Turkey is world renowned for its unique and specialized cuisine. The country’s climate ranges from temperate to extremes of heat and cold which enables a varied range of fresh produce to be cultivated, from tea in the cooler north to chili peppers in the south. For most Turks, the staples are rice and wheat and while it is a secular society, with most of the country’s population being Islamic, lamb and chicken are the main meats, with very little pork being consumed. With so much coastline, various types of fish and seafood are also plentiful and incorporated into many of the country’s dishes.

Turkey has a rich history, involving many different tribes and civilizations through the centuries. The basis of current day Turkish cuisine was established in very early times. Wheat was cultivated as far back as the nomadic period, and the practice of cooking meat on skewers (kebabs) and the use of dairy products also dates back to this time. However, it is perhaps during the Ottoman era that Turkish cuisine developed the most. By the l7th century the Sultan’s palace housed around thirteen hundred kitchen staff, including hundreds of chefs. It was these chefs who refined and perfected Turkish cuisine in an effort to please the royal palate. Literally hundreds of dishes were created during this period.

Turkey’s geographical location also made it a natural route for traders, travelers and migrants who all influenced Turkish cuisine. For instance certain Turkish habits such as using sweet spices, fruit and nuts with meats is reminiscent of North African cooking. With the Sultan having complete control over “The Spice Road” many spices and seasonings were added to flavor traditional dishes.

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