The international community may believe that Turkish food has a single national ‘character’. And the ever-polite home-grown Turk might even defer to that judgment, in public. But in private, he/she acknowledges at least thirty-eight distinctive, regional varieties of native food — referring to them as mutfaklar (kitchens). These distinctive ‘kitchens’ represent the Turkish mainland provinces of Adana, Agri, Amasya, Antakya (Hatay), Antep, Artvin, Bingöl, Bolu, Burdur, Bursa, Çorum, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Hakkari, Istanbul, Izmir, Kars, Kirklareli, Kirsehir, Konya, Malatya, Maras, Mersin (Içel), Mugla, Mus, Ordu, Sakarya, Samsun, Sivas, Sinop, Tokat, Trabzon, Tunceli, Urfa, Usak, and Yozgat.
Let’s have a brief look at them one at a time, shall we…?
The Turkish ‘Food Kitchen’ of Adana
This southern Mediterranean coastal province is not just famous for its ‘food kitchen’, of course. It’s also notable as one of Turkey’s more prosperous regions — deriving its wealth naturally from the agricultural produce of the Çukurova Plain. And, its namesake capital is Turkey’s fourth largest city, at just over a million in population.
Nestled neatly on the banks of the Seyhan River, Adana is surrounded by gardens and citrus groves — that give it a relaxed “country in the city” feeling. An ancient legend says that Adanos, son of the god Uranus, founded it originally. But another (more ‘historically verifiable’) source identifies it with the Hittite king Asitawadda, sometime around 1000 BC. And if you doubt such an early origin, there’s always the stone bridge south of the main boulevard that was built over the Seyhan River during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) — which is still in use.
Much more recently, Adana province has been host to the NATO air-base at İncirlik — which began appearing so frequently in the news during the 1st and 2nd wars in Iraq.
adrian, a true stoic, once advised, “check impulse, suppress appetite.” But that idea gets short shrift in the modern-day Adana ‘food kitchen’ — which feeds its populace generously on meat, grain, and milk-based products. On the one hand, that means plenty of beef, chicken, and bulgur wheat dishes. On the other, it means lots of yogurt, ayran, cheese, and milk itself.
The people of this region have a passion for spicy hot food. By far its best-known dish is the namesake Adana Kebab — a spicy hot, grilled meat specialty. And when the cooking of it begins, guests gather round the Mangal (BBQ) grill to engage in pleasant conversation.
[Click following to access an illustrated HTML-version of The Regional ‘Food Kitchens’ of Turkey — which contains a scrumptious recipe for Adana Kebab.]
Next: The Turkish ‘Food Kitchen’ of Izmir
Jim and Perihan Masters are a husband and wife team, living on the Aegean Coast of Turkey just 50 miles south of İzmir. Jim was born in Shanghai, China — of American military parentage. Peri was born on the Black Sea coast of Turkey near Trabzon, of Turkish military parentage…Enticed by a Financial Times advertisement, Jim joined a NATO sponsored enterprise in Ankara in 1974 where he met the beautiful and brainy Perihan, a rising young Turkish banking executive. Settled now in the heart of what was once the ancient Ionian Empire — the couple live an idyllic life by the sea.. writing, drawing and painting, teaching English, and providing computing service support to local businesses. They also sponsor the MSNBC award-winning Learning Practical Turkish Website [http://www.learningpracticalturkish.com/] which has built an enthusiastic international following of devoted Turkophiles and inquisitive language students of all ages.
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