Friday, November 12, 2010

Food from Black Sea Region of Turkey...

Contrary to the common belief outside of Turkey, Turkish cuisine is not composed of only kebaps and mezes (I believe this is partially because of bad marketing outside of Turkey, partially because it is easier for western world to classify Turkey into Middle East, and lastly because of dominance of home-cooking for regional food)... In reality, Turkish cuisine is among the most diverse in the world, due to the influence of Ottoman Empire... The food is a fusion of Turkic elements from Central Asia, influences of Middle East and Balkans... Adding the difference in climate and produce between regions to this mix, the result is a very diverse and non-homogeneous (between regions) cuisine...

South-east is famous of its meat, kebaps, mezes, and baklava like desserts; Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions uses the olive oil and vegetables grown in the fertile agricultural land in the area and fish; Central Anatolia is known for dishes prepared by using wheat; lastly but not least Black Sea region's cuisine is based on corn, anchovies (hamsi), kale, dairy products (butter, cheese)...

I am originally from eastern part of Black Sea coast, and the objective of this posting is to introduce the region and make an introduction to my next postings, which will be recipes of dishes from the region...

                               Fishing in Black Sea - Trabzon, Turkey

The land is very mountainous and climate is rainy all year around. There is not vast fertile agricultural land like in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, and weather is not as co-operative. As a result, the cuisine is very different than other coastal areas of Turkey, and these conditions pushed people of the Black Sea to create dishes using the produce that can be grown/found in the area, such as kale and corn from the soil, anchovies (hamsi) and other fishes from the Black Sea, and dairy products from their kettles...

                               Camlihemsin, Rize

Corn:

Originally from South America, corn is brought to the region in the 17th century, and used for variety of purposes by the Black Sea people since then - eaten fresh by boiling or grilling, dried and grinded to the flour to prepare corn bread or to use in several dishes like muhlama (cheese fondue), hamsi bread, kale dishes, etc.

                               Boiling corn on open fire - Camlihemsin, Rize

Dairy Products:

Black Sea cuisine is not big in meat dishes other than Kavurma, which is braised meat in its own fat, since they use the milk of the kettles to prepare dairy products. The region is famous with its butter, and also produces variety of cheeses... Muhlama or Kuymak - similar dishes using butter, cheese, corn flour but different preparations - is one of the staple dishes of the Black Sea cuisine.

                               Yummy muhlama with fresh butter, cheese and corn flour...

                               Perfect appetizer mix: Toasted corn bread, honey and butter

Kale and other vegetables:

Kale is another staple of the Black Sea cuisine. It is used in various dishes, from kale soup to dolma (kale filled with ground meat mixture) to sarma (kale filled with fried rice) to mashed or sauted kale. Other vegetables used widely are green beans and chard... Pickling is also used to preserve the vegetables, especially green beans... In winter, these pickled beans are sauted and eaten warm with corn bread...
                               Fresh Kale - Still in the garden

Anchovies (Hamsi) and other fish:

Fish from the Black Sea play a big role in the kitchen of the people of the region. The most famous of these is Anchovies (Hamsi), and eaten in plenty of different cooking styles and preparations: grilled, fried, cooked with rice (hamsili pilav), hamsi bread (hamsili ekmek), omlette with hamsi and vegetables, etc.

Dessert:

The most interesting dessert of the area is Laz Boregi, which is a baklava like syrupy dessert layered with custard in between layers instead of nuts... The name is interesting to the Turkish people who are not familiar to the area since borek refers to savory pastries in Turkish cuisine and this one is a dessert...

If you are curious about how the mentioned dishes are made and taste, read this blog :) Coming soon...

1 comment:

  1. Hello! just thought to google and am happy to learn and feel verified from what my mother told me, of the cooking and regular dishes of her childhood. i've never made these dishes, but will now! thanks so much. beatrice

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