Turkey has been getting a bad rap lately between the Syrian refugees and the terrorist attacks, but in reality, it’s the best country ever for traveling foodies. If touring historic palaces and mosques aren’t your thing, go for the food. Besides the obvious kebabs, these seven eats will make you rave about Turkey.
Whole Foods is scamming you. The pomegranate seeds they sell you aren’t real, trust me. The pomegranate seeds in Istanbul explode with juicy sweetness in your mouth. They are sweet and fruity, not bland (ahem Whole Foods) and fresh. I highly recommend putting them on yogurt, salads or muesli and never buying the Whole Foods ones again.
2. Pita Bread
Okay, okay I know you can get pita bread everywhere, but I promise you it doesn’t taste like this. They bring you piping hot pita bread to start every meal. It’s warm and flavorful enough to snack on alone, or dip in hummus or red pepper dip for a total foodgasm. A unique Turkish spin is to top warm pita bread with meatballs. #sosmart
3. Apple Tea
Those of you who can’t stomach the Turkish coffee (trust me it’s not like your Starbucks Latte with caramel drizzle) need to try Turkish Apple Tea. It comes with floating pieces of dried Apple and tastes like the best New England apple cider from apple picking in the fall, but so much better.
4. Mezze Platters
Mezze platters are like tapas-style Mediterranean food, and the Turks are all about them. They have them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Red pepper dip topped with pine nuts and flavored with Turkish spices is like next level salsa. The hummus? Rich with flavor and creamy in texture, it beats anything at your favorite vegan cafe.
5. Chicken, Honey and Dried Fruit
There are many variations of this, but a must order is a combination of chicken and dried fruits, richly spiced, and topped with honey. You feel a little guilty having chicken dripping with honey for lunch, until you take the first bite. It’s sweet, but spicy, and the freshly dried fruits are incomparable to the lump of dried apricots you eat as a snack now.
6. Turkish Octopus Salad
For a fancy lunch that evokes an orientalist painting, try the Pera Palace in Istanbul. While the food isn’t Turkish per say, the atmosphere is. I ordered a pumpkin octopus salad that was phenomenal. My traveling partner, Mama Meyers, went for a pear salad that, “was on point.” It may not be kebabs, but you’re treated like a Sultan and will leave totally satisfied.
This one may be obvious, think the spice trade from history class. Unique Turkish spices are added to everything from a simple yogurt to a kebab, and transform even the simplest dishes into masterpieces. If you can identify the ones you love, make a trip to the Grand Bazaar, where you can choose from bins and bins of spices to bring back home.