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Mezes are the small dishes of infinite variety both cold and hot, served either at the beginning of the meal as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre or sometimes, even as an entire meal. Foods served at the Meze table range from slices of melon, white cheese, olives, and simple dishes such as yogurt with cucumber to the more elaborate, including stuffed mussels, shredded chicken in walnut sauce and hot savory pastries. Ideally Meze should be accompanied by Raki, the potent alcoholic drink, flavored with aniseed, served with ice and water.
Many Turkish soups are effectively a meal in their own right, a tradition that goes back to nomadic times. Although as elsewhere, soup is often served at the beginning of a meal, it is not restricted to any particular time of the day and in rural Anatolia, it is often served at breakfast. There are many types of soup, thin, thick, meat or vegetable and there are special soups for different occasions, such as Wedding soup, with lemon and egg, which is very popular and no longer confined to weddings. Believed to ward off hangovers, tripe soup is sold in special shops which stay open all night to revive the bibulous.
Bulgur is produced mainly from durum wheat that is cleaned, cooked, de-hulled, dried and sorted. It is one of the first plants that is known to be cultivated. Following the migrations during centuries from the Near and Middle Eastern Regions and North Africa, bulgur has become popular today in Europe and America as an alternative healthy food.
Savory pastry dishes form a large category of Turkish food and pasta was borrowed from the Chinese before the Turks came to Anatolia. It takes various forms, such as manti. little stuffed dumplings and the similar dish, tatar böregi and eriste, noodles, which are combined with a wide range of ingredients. But of af such dishes. borek reigns supreme today, as in Ottoman times, when there were laws regulating the quality of borek sold to the public. Made from layers of finely rolled sheets of dough, yufka, which can be bought, between which is a filling of cheese or meat, borek comes in many shapes and sizes. In most western countries phyllo pastry, which is the same.
Although fish was not cooked by the ancient nomadic Turks, when they settled in Anatolia, they found themselves surrounded by sea on three sides, all very different from each other. Whilst fish was still not widely. eaten, in the Black Sea area, the native anchovy, hamsi became an important part of the diet. Istanbul, set on either side of the Bosphorus, is impossible to think of in culinary terms, without its many and excellent fish restaurants; the deep waters of the Bosphorus yield plentiful fish and one frequently sees rows of men fishing, something not seen in many great cities. In Izmir on the Aegean sea, along the Kordon, the seafront esplanade, there are many superb fish restaurants. In southern cities of Mediterranean, sword fish, sea breams and mullets are often served.
Rice has spread out of China to other cultures, and to the Turkish culture. Custom was to eat pilaf just before the dessert to clean the palate, accompanied by hosaf-compote of dried fruits, by the Ottomans, whereas it turned out to be eaten as a side dish served with meat or vegetable dishes or pulses nowadays. Pilafs have possessed an essential part in the kitchens of the Palace and the populace, possible to be eaten both at lunch and at dinner. Rice pilaf with chicken and chick pea is so common that it is sold by street vendors. Schools present pilaf to graduates at commemoration days which are named “pilaf days”. Turkish cuisine gives the same importance to pilaf as Western cuisines give to potatoes. The basic ingredient in pilafs are either rice, bulgur (boiled and cracked wheat) or vermicelli. There are varieties of pilafs cooked by adding onion, tomato, vegetables, nuts, herbs, poultry, or meat or combination of these but generally cooked plain, namely with butter, water and salt.

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