Hidden European Food

Hidden Eurofood: Izmir

The Turkish cuisine varies across the several regions of the country. The Aegean region with Istanbul, Izmir, and Bursa is characterized by many elements of the traditional Ottoman cuisine with a wide use of vegetables and rice. The cuisine of the Black Sea Region is famous, instead, for a large use of fish and the maize dishes. The most famous dishes in Turkey are all over the world renowned! The traditional from the coffee and the tea to the various types of kebab and the sucuk. The Turkish desserts are now typical in almost all the former Ottoman Empire territories like the baklava and the kadaif. Very traditional, especially for Turkish breakfast is the delicious kaymak, a creamy dairy product that can be spread on the bread and eaten with honey. Also the ayran, the traditional drink made of yogurt, water, and salt is now spread all over the Balkans and the Middle East even if sometimes with different names. We will talk about the cuisine of one of the most beautiful “capitals” of the Mediterranean Sea: Izmir!

In the western parts of Turkey olive trees grow abundantly and this cuisine is very rich in olive oil, vegetables, fish, and herbs. An important factor for the Izmir cuisine is the very rich combination of a perfect climate with the trade routes and the migrations. The first Turkish recipe book was written during Umurbey’s time in Aydınoğlu principality that lived in the İzmir area before the Ottomans. Wild asparagus, artichokes, zucchini blossoms…every season in Izmir has a different flower in an astonishing natural environment that surrounds the city. Very traditional in Izmir are also the mussels that you can eat cooked with rice, usually served with lemon juice. A traditional pastry, instead, is called Boyoz and it’s definitely a symbol of the city. It is possible to find also something very similar to Boyoz in Chile, Peru, and Mexico. Probably it has Judeo-Spanish roots and it was a contribution to Sephardic Jews evicted from Spain after 1492 who settled in Ottoman cities. It is usually eaten with a hard-boiled egg with salt and black pepper.


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