Aubergine based baba ghanoush
Turkish cuisine combines all the flavours of the Ottoman Empire, with influences from Central Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans, as well as other Mediterranean rim countries. As might be expected in such a huge country, there are regional specialities and the cuisine of the Kalkan area is Mediterranean-style, characterized by lots of vegetables, fish and herbs, especially mint, parsley and oregano. Key ingredients are tomatoes, aubergines, onions, green peppers, garlic, beans and lentils, and most every dish will use locally-produced olive oil.
Turkey has five main wine producing regions, with the biggest producers located in Marmara, Thrace, Central Anatolia and the Aegean coastal region. The wines you are most likely to come across are from the Kavaklıdere and Doluca vineyards, which produce decent quality reds and whites at a reasonable cost, although wines on the whole are expensive here, especially compared to prices for other drinks and food.
Beer is a good alternative on a hot day: the best-selling Turkish beer (80% Efes Pilsen, brewed in Izmir. The national drink is a powerful spirit called Raki, distilled from the solid remains of grapes after pressing, similar to the French marc, and flavored with anise seed. It is often served chilled as an accompaniment to food.
A traditional Turkish meal often begins with a thin soup, served hot or cold, followed by a meat or, more commonly, vegetable dish, accompanied by Turkish-style pasta, flat bread, couscous or rice. Desserts are usually milk or pastry based, very sweet and flavoured with honey and nuts. Another favourite way to enjoy a meal is with a mezze or mixture of small dishes, usually served as an appetizer. Classic mezze dishes might include baba ghanoush (aubergine salad), cacik (yoghurt with cucumber, mint and olive oil), kizartma (mixed fried vegetables) kofte (meatballs) and coban salatasi, a mixed salad of tomato, cucumber, onion, green peppers, and parsley.
Cacik with skewers