Turkey and Italy: A Tasty Meeting Around the Dining Table
Turkish cuisine is characterized by many food combinations of the different areas, contributing to the complexity deriving from the historical influences of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The unique dishes are very colourful and rich in flavour with numerous ingredients mainly being vegetables, legumes and meats.
Similarly, Italian cuisine offers a wide and rich selection of dishes ranging from fruit and vegetables, meats, cheeses and grains. Every region represents, celebrates and reinforces the distinguishable quality of local food products and recipes. The country’s agri-food sector is deeply rooted in heritage and authenticity, adhering to delivering the top Protected Designation of Origin (DOP), Indication of Geographic Protection (IGP) and Traditional Guaranteed Specialty (STG) foods in Europe.
When comparing Italy and Turkey, several similarities can be identified. Firstly, the shared concept of having meals with family or friends is considered a social occasion (https://www.turquazz.com/turkish-breakfast-a-healthy-and-social-meal-for-the-soul/) to create stronger bonds, provide gratitude for relationships and have pleasant conversations. However, although the two countries both reflect the traditions that define the diets of the Mediterranean region, many foods are cooked and eaten in diverse ways.
An example is the Turkish “türlü” or another dish called “şakşuka” which recall the Sicilian dish “caponata”. For these recipes, a series of similar vegetables (onion, tomatoes, peppers) are needed while the eggplant is the main ingredient. Carefully cooked with precise step-by-step procedures, they both create a rich and healthy dish enjoyed by locals and tourists. The slight variation is the addition of meat in the “türlü” depending on whether consumed as a main course or a side.
Another specialty is the Italian “ravioli and tortellini” which are meat, cheese or vegetable fillings enveloped in pasta dough. They usually come in square or circular shapes and can be served with different sauces. Likewise, Anatolian “manti” (https://www.turquazz.com/manti-a-symbol-of-cultural-connections-in-anatolia/) are filled pasta with lamb or beef, and usually topped with three different sauces: garlicky yogurt, brown butter or caramelized tomato. Whether boiled, steamed, baked or fried, both the Italian and Turkish dishes are part of the treasured culinary traditions and cultural significance related to the fresh ingredients, the care in the preparation and their consumption during special occasions.
The richness of the two cuisines is based on the freshness of the food products, the cultural interactions and the geographic positions. The art of cooking goes back centuries and although Italy and Turkey present different tastes, ingredients, and culinary approaches, the unifying element remains the rapport-building power of gatherings around the dining table.