Turkish food is awesome #1
Foodies, listen up: if your list of “must-visit” places doesn’t include Istanbul, put it at the top immediately.
The American and Turkish diets vary greatly. The foods Americans are used to are largely absent from the standard Bosphorus café (except Starbucks and Burger King). I have to admit that the Turkish diet is much better than the USA’s love affair with fried and processed foods, and throughout the semester I will try to introduce many of my personal favorites to you.
First up is Döner, which is a massive hunk of meat (usually lamb) cooked on a vertical rotisserie. To complete an order, the chef shaves some of the meat off and serves it over rice, in a wrap, or various other ways. Döner is rich and juicy, falling apart at the touch of a knife or fork and melting in your mouth. It serves well with nearly anything else one could put on a plate, and is a staple on Istanbul street corners.
Next is Sütlaç, or Turkish rice pudding. It’s a bowl sent straight from heaven- chilled cream, rice, sugar, and other delicious ingredients. The portion I was served was massive and I ate every bite of it (and had no regrets about it later). It’s sweet without being overly so, and the chilled creaminess acts as a nice counterbalance from what was inevitably a hot meat-filled lunch or dinner.
Third is Manti, or small meat-filled dumplings served in a yogurt sauce. To say it’s delicious is an understatement- it packs just the right amount of meat and dough into a main course (can you tell I don’t normally do food reviews?). The yogurt can have the potential to overpower the dish on occasion, so I recommend ordering it only when you’re confident the restaurant’s food is up to par.
The final is one I had only today: a rare dish known as Muhlama. It consists of three main ingredients: corn starch, butter, and a very particular type of cheese made in the region, however it’s incredibly difficult to make. The mixture acts like a dough when you’re trying to serve and eat it, requiring extra work to get it to from plate to mouth, but it’s absolutely unbelievable. It’s a gift from the cheese gods and pairs well with sausage, bread, or both.
Here’s one to try at home- a staple of the Turkish breakfast (or so I have been told): mix one scoop of molasses and one scoop of tahini into a small bowl, and dip some bread into it. Empty calories? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely (and your body can break it down easily).