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  • Turkey CulinariaMarch 1521, 2015

    Seluk, Izmir, the Aegean Coast, and Istanbul

  • The Aegean Coast

    We were in the Aegean Region, Turkeys western shorelinenot just the land of the olive tree, but also the birthplace of European civilization.

    The western coast of Turkey has drawn travelers for centuries, keen to explore its extraordinary natural beauty and its famous ancient ruins. In Greek and Roman times, these shores were the center of the classical world and the site of some of its most revered cities. This was the land of Homers heroes and the scene of the legendary battles; it was the birthplace of Herodotus, the father of history and the place where Cleopatra met Antony.

    Greg and Lucy MaloufTurquoise: A Chefs Travels in Turkey

    Ephesus: City of the Gods

    One might naturally think that the greatest Roman ruins are to be found in Italy. Not so fast! With an ancient arena that dwarfs the one in Pompeii, and a lofty library that rivals any structure in the Roman Forum, Ephesusonce the most important Greco-Roman city of the Eastern Mediterraneanis among the best-preserved ancient sites in the world. Set on a strategic trade route, it first won fame as a cultural and religious crossroads. Here, shrines honored Artemis, the ancient Goddess of fertility, St. Paul did some serious soul-searching, andlegend has itthe Virgin Mary lived out her last days. Today, modern travelers can trace the fault lines of ancient civilizations in Ephesuss spectacular land-scape of ruined temples, theatres, and colonnaded streets.

    Fodors Travel Turkey

  • Turkeys Culinary Heritage


    Ana Sortun of

    Seluk, Izmir, the Aegean Coast, and IstanbulMarch 1522, 2015

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    A Love Affair with Turkey

    Oldways love affair with Turkey and its food began in October 1993, when we brought more than 100 culinary experts from the US, UK, Japan, Australia and Canada to Istanbul for an Oldways Symposium. After Oldways introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in January 1993, we inaugurated a series of culinary and scientific symposiums for journalists, cookbook authors, chefs, and food retailers in Mediterranean countries. Our purpose was to provide a context for the Mediterranean Diet and olive oilto put the Mediterranean Diet on the plate by introducing the foods, wines, preparations, and cultural attractions that are the foundation of the cuisines of the Mediterranean. Turkey was our first stop on the Magical Mystery Tour of the Mediterraneanand it has lured us back, time and time again.

    As Dun Gifford, Oldways founder, wrote in 1993: All of the worlds nations and cities are of course unique, each from the other. But Turkey can lay a clear claim to a special kind of uniqueness, a kind of terroir dhistoire. For all of recorded human history, and for a large part of pre-history, the tides of human history have ebbed and flowed through the vast, mountainous peninsula that is todays Republic of Turkey. There is abundant archaeological evidence throughout Anatolia (as the Asian land mass of Turkey has long been known) of Ice Age hunters and gatherers, of Stone Age agricul-tural settlers, of Copper Age potters and metal tool makers, and of the original Bronze Age settlements at whatcenturies laterbecame the topless towers of Ilium in Homers Troy.

    Crusades, hordes, Vandals, legions, and armies have all stormed through Anatolia, since whoever controlled the Anatolian peninsulaaimed like a chunky Asian arrow at the Greek and Italian underbelly of Europecontrolled the Eastern Mediterranean and the riches of the east-west trade routes. How many millions of humans crossed and recrossed through this intersection of the Orient and the Occident in hot pursuit of the riches of empire or religious salva-tion, or both?

    Turkeys culinary history is really one of migratory cuisines, because the waves of people who washed over the Anatolian peninsula, rocked in its cradles of civilization, and crossed back and forth through its intersection of Europe and Asia brought with them to Anatolia foods and traditions from the lands they left behind, and took away with them when they moved on the foods and traditions that they found there. Ottoman scholar Tom Brosnahan wrote, It is worth traveling to Turkey just to eat. Turkish cuisine is the very heart of eastern Mediterranean cooking, which demands excellent, fresh ingredients and careful, even laborious preparation. The ingredients are often very simple, but are of the highest quality, and in recipes they are harmonised with great care.

    It is for all these reasons we are here in Seluk, Izmir and Istanbul. We are here to eat, to learn, and to bring home the pleasures and riches of Turkey and its cuisine that we will experience together. We are grateful to share this time with you, grateful to Ana and the Oleana team, Tuba, Og uz and our other friendsold and newfor sharing their love and knowledge of the foods of Turkey. We hope you will fall in love, as we have, and continue to spread the word about the glorious treasures (cultural and culinary!) of Turkey. Sara Baer-Sinnott President, Oldways

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    A Message from Ana SortunIn 1997, I was working at Harvard Squares Casablanca restaurant, cook- ing Mediterranean food mostly inspired by my travels to Italy, Spain and the south of France. One evening I met Ayfer Unsal who was visiting Cambridge and dining with my boss. She invited me to visit Turkey and to study the cuisine from her hometown, Gazientep. When I thought about going to Turkey, I imagined genies and flying carpets. I had no idea that I was about to discover a whole new way of cooking guided by spicesan approach to cuisine that would change my life forever.

    When I arrived, Ayfer and her friends graciously threw me a welcome, pot luck-style lunch in the park. Everyone prepared a favorite recipe, including myself and there were 30 practiced and perfected dishes spread out from one end of the table to the other. I tasted every single one and marveled at how complex the flavors were. I realized that I had tasted 30 dishes (essen-tially making my way through a 30 course tasting menu) but I felt great and not overstuffed. Even though the flavors were big, the dishes were light. The idea of food being rich but not heavy was something new for me and it was all about the spices. That meal was a turning point in my career. I took an interest and began to study Turkish ingredients, spices, recipes, and tech-niques, eventually coming up with my own style of Mediterranean cooking that is modern, interpretive but inspired by what I learned and continue to learn from travels to Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean.

    Some unforgettable dishes that I tasted that day:Wheat berries with yogurt and Maras pepper; Lentils and chick peas with wheat berries and tarragon; Wheat berries with garlic, sweet and hot pep-pers; Green almonds cooked with chick peas, yogurt and lamb; Izmir-style meatballs with yogurt and chilies; Mung beans with walnuts and parsley; Teeny-tiny meatballs with chick peas, dried mint and yogurt; Lamb kofte and chick peas with chilies and dried mint; Green onion and garlic broth with chick peas and yogurt; Lamb chops with quince and pomegranate sauce; Smokey eggplant with lamb and tomato; Native winter squash with lamb and chick peas; Sun-dried eggplant dolma slowly cooked with rice and lamb; Fried zucchini with lamb and parsley; Swiss chard and black eyed peas; Stewed black eyed peas, chick peas and lentils with wild purslane, tomato and garlic; Okra with lemon and lamb; Lamb liver with onion and parsley; Smoked green wheat with lamb; and Swiss chard dolma with bulgur wheat and lamb.

    Thank you for joining me and Oldways on this culinary journey through the areas of Izmir and Istanbul. I hope you all eat well and are inspired by what you taste. A special thanks to my new friend Tuba, who continues to intro-duce me to so much more, to Sara and Oldways for making this all happen, and to Team Oleana and SarmaSara, Paige, and Leah, for your hands of support. Ana Sortun Chef/Owner, Oleana

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    Sunday, March 15, 2015 Afternoon Check into the Hotel Kalehan in Seluk Well meet at the Hotel Kalehan in Seluk, south of Izmir, near

    the ancient city of Ephesus. Take time to get unpacked, rest, and/or take a walk and explore the town of Seluk.

    6:30 Welcome with Wine and Dinner of Local Specialties Well gather at the hotel for an introduction to the week, and a wine tasting of local Turkish wines. This will give you time to meet and talk with your fellow travelers, and as the group gath-ers, well have an introductory session with Ana Sortun, Sara Baer-Sinnott, and our guides Tuba S atana (Turkish food expert) and Oguz Gnc (official guide). Well follow the introduction with a tasting of wines from Suvla, an organic family winery on the Aegean Sea, followed by a welcoming dinner, featuring local specialties.

    Monday, March 16, 2015 7:00 Breakfast Buffet at the Hotel Kalehan

    A wonderful, traditional breakfast buffet will be available at 7:00 a.m. You wont want to miss this breakfast before we leave for Ephesus.

    9:00 Tour of Ephesus Well travel the few miles from our hotel to Ephesus, the leg-endary ancient city. Ephesus ruins are well preserved, and with our guides, well spend half a day exploring and learning about this city and its famous inhabitants and visi-tors such as Cleopatra, Mark Anthony, Augustus, St. Paul, the Virgin Mary, and John the Apostle.

    12:30 Depart for SirinceWine Tasting and Lunch After the morning at Ephesus we will travel up into the nearby

    mountains to Sirince, a small village that will make you think youve been transported back to a Greek village. Well have a wine tasting and lunch at Restaurant Artemis, and then well give you time to wander