Some travel to see the sights, while others travel to experience the food. After returning from her trip to Turkey with On the Go Tours, Julia shares with us the amazing dishes she experienced along the way. Whatever your style of travel or food preference, Julia shares some excellent tips on what to see and eat:
I just returned from a fabulous trip to Turkey with On the Go Tours. Although I’ve been a travel agent for 5 ½ years, I have been passionate about food and travel my whole life. One of my favourite things about travelling is the diversity of food available. I believe exploring the local cultural dishes is a very key part of enjoying and understanding the country. I went to Turkey with the hopes of having a few good meals; never did I expect to be craving the dishes when I came home…they were all hits!
So I’ve put together my Top 5 meals, snacks and drinks for everybody to enjoy:
1. Turkish Pizza
Easy and delicious meal or snack that is sure to be a hit with your pallet would be the Turkish Pizza. It is called “Pide” in Turkish. The pizza is served on fresh dough and olive oil with ground beef and lamb covered in Cheese and spices. It does not come in the Italian style pizza shape, nor does it have any Italian tomato sauce, but it does have a Mediterranean feel to it for sure.
Everyday and every meal needs to have tea, and the Turkish people really love their tea! They usually enjoy the traditional black tea in very small glass tea cups. It is usually served with 2 cubes of sugar and I found it to be much more popular than coffee. If you prefer a sweeter taste to your tea, then you would enjoy the apple tea. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I couldn’t get enough of the hot apple tea, it did taste almost like a hot apple cider! Very yummy on a crisp fall afternoon!
3. Iskender Kebab
If you are going to be travelling by bus around the very large country of Turkey, you will be stopping at several service rest stops for lunch. Please don’t be afraid! The food at these rest stops was all very good. From the “Kofte” (Meatballs) to “mercimek corba” (Lentil soup) there is so much to enjoy. My favourite (as well as Alexander the Great’s favourite) meal in Turkey was the “Iskender Kebab”! It is thinly cut grilled lamb with hot tomato sauce over pieces of bread with cooked hot peppers, tomatoes, french fries & yogurt. It may sound a little much, but before you know it, your plate will be empty!
4. Döner kebab
A simple, easy & fast meal would be a “Döner kebab” which means rotating kebab in Turkish. It is sliced lamb, beef or chicken, slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit. You can get this as you are heading to the Grand Bazaar for a quick bite to eat, or you can sit down to the thousands of restaurants & enjoy it at your leisure. Chicken, rice & vegetables it is hard for somebody not to enjoy this meal. I loved the fact that I could see my food being cooked right in front of me & it was so affordable.
5. Nar Juice and Chilled Muscles
Street food options will be meals, snacks & drinks that some may steer away from, but in Turkey, run towards it! I enjoyed fresh squeezed Pomegranate “Nar” juice which was served on almost every street corner in Istanbul. You can barter the price a little, but you end up with a tall, mouth watering rich cup of fresh Pomegranate juice that you will crave for weeks to come! I believe I enjoyed at least 2 glasses a day and definitely got my antioxidants & vitamins.
Another street vendor style food that I enjoyed were the Chilled Muscles also called “Midye dolma” in Turkish. They are muscles served fresh from the sea, stuffed with brown rice and spices, chilled then served one at a time with lemon squeezed inside! They are refreshing on a warm afternoon as well as when you are leaving a Turkish night club at 3 in the morning. You eat as they serve you one by one, cracking them open and squeezing the zesty lime inside…at the end, they count your shells and you shell out the minimal fee for enjoying fresh seafood!
All day and all night, the food was a Turkish delight! As each day passed in Turkey, I was more and more impressed with the food and culture. With the Mediterranean and middle eastern influences the flavours and variety were delightful. From the cheese with breakfast, the juice stands for a snack, the Döner kebab for lunch, the filling bread, meat and vegetables for dinner…you will just have to leave a spot for the sweet Baklava for desert!
Julia Mainwaring has been a travel agent with Flight Centre for 5 years as the Team Leader of the Bankers Hall location in downtown Calgary, Alberta. She can be reached by e-mail or calling 1-866-205-3341. She travelled to Turkey with On the Go Tours on their 7-Day Aegean Explorer tour.