Although Turkey may not come to mind when you're thinking of the culinary capitals of the world, the country actually has some delicious dishes that will have you clamoring for more. Of course, many places around the world have adopted the kebab as a late-night snack, but there's much more to Turkish cuisine than that! Here are five other foods to make sure you get your hands on during your time in Turkey:
Although the typical kebab is filled with meat, it's also generally possible to get a wrap full of falafel—or deep-fried chickpea patties—and hummus. Falafel is typically served in pitas, but it loses nothing for being served in a tortilla instead, and although you might think chickpea patties with chickpea paste is a bit of overkill, trust me, the flavors are very distinct. They offer a healthier alternative to the meaty adana kebabs, and they're quite tasty besides!
Menemen is an egg dish that is in some ways similar to a Spanish omelette. It usually mixes eggs, peppers and spices, and tomato for the base, although other things may be added too. The dish is typically eaten for breakfast but is sometimes served for other meals as well, and different fillings may be included depending on when it's served and what it's served with. It makes for a hearty and scrumptious breakfast that'll definitely keep you going throughout the day!
Pide can be described as the Turkish form of pizza, but that isn't doing the dish justice. Instead of being circular, it's elongated, with the typical pide being about the length of an adult's forearm, and pointed at both ends. Traditional toppings include meat, cheese, or eggs, but modern instantiations of the dish include combinations of vegetables, meat, and anything else that you might find on a pizza. The dish originates from the Black Sea region of Turkey, but you can really find it anywhere now. Most pide are heavy dishes, though, so if you're going in for one, make sure to bring a friend or you may need to loosen your belt!
4. Balik Ekmek
In coastal parts of Turkey, you'll find balik ekmek, or fish sandwiches, at little shops along the waterfront, often peeking out of the backs of boats. These fish sandwiches are generally nothing fancy—a bit of fish with lettuce, onions, and lemon juice put between two slices of thick bread. However, the fish is some of the freshest you'll ever come by: often you'll see the raw fish sitting some meters away from the stove. And something about the combination of salty sea air and summer sun turns this simple combination into an absolute delicacy. Pair it with some lemonade and you've got one tasty waterfront picnic right there, and for cheap, too!
It's hard to decide which desert to put on this list, baklava or the ubiquitous Turkish delight. Both can be had at a multitude of places around Istanbul and the rest of the country, and each has its enthusiasts. Baklava is a sweet pastry made of filo dough, nuts, and honey and goes well with the strong Turkish coffee; Turkish delight, on the other hand is a gelatinous starch and sugar concoction flavored with just about anything from nuts to fruit. Both are equally tasty, but often some people are turned off from the sweet nature of baklava, while others dislike the texture of Turkish delight. Since both are so popular around Turkey, however, it's definitely worth giving both a try and seeing if you like them!
Turkish cuisine is full of surprises that go a lot further than the typical döner kebab. Check out different restaurants and see what's available to you—you're sure to be happy that you did! Best of all, food in Turkey is relatively cheap, meaning that even if you're on a budget, you'll be able to afford a lot of different options. There's no reason not to explore!