Tag Archives: food

15 Great Expat Blogs About Turkey

Here are 15 great blogs to check out if you are curious about living in Turkey, want to try out more Mediterranean Cooking, or are just searching for some travel inspiration:

  1. Turkey’s For Life: Julie and Barry, two UK citizens, share advice, recipes, and plenty of personal adventures on this extensive blog.
  2. Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Photos, easy-to-follow recipes and interesting tales woven together by an award-winning chef who also happens to offer online cooking lessons.
  3. Turkey from the Inside: Pat, a UK-origined former Thomas Cook travel specialist, travel book author and writer for Today’s Zaman takes readers on a whirlwind tour through the culture and history of many different Turkish regions
  4. Back to Bodum: An Aussie expat and her Turkish husband re-adjust to life in the Turkish countryside
  5. Pul Biber – With Everything (Red Pepper with Everything) Two retired UK expats living in Selçuk adjust from their fast-paced London life to soaking up the small town sights, smells and occasional serenity
  6. Adventures in Ankara: A Pennsylvania native and lawyer by profession shares her adventures and observations after moving to Ankara with her Turkish husband. Plenty of travel tips, trip reviews, and a culinary corner as well.
  7. A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: A 30+ year expat resident of Istanbul share’s the years’ best fare with recipes fit for every season.
  8. Slowly By Slowly: “Roadtripping through one Turkish-American marriage with a troupe of backseat-driving Karagöz puppets”
  9. Almost Turkish Recipes: Simple and tasty meals you can make in your own kitchen, regardless of whether you have access to Turkey’s extensive outdoor bazaars.
  10. From the Seven Hills of Istanbul: A Wisconsin native who has lived almost continuously in Turkey since completing her MA in Turkish Studies in 2009 now shares restaurant reviews and travel tips covering Bursa and Istanbul.
  11. Binur’s Turkish Cookbook: Recipes, tantalizing photos.  What more could you want in a simple food blog?
  12. The Turkish Life: A SF native residing in Istanbul and writing about food, running, photography and the environment
  13. Far From the Sticks: An East Coaster residing in Ankara with her Turkish husband shares stories, photos and culinary adventures.
  14. Adana Adventures: Part travel /living guide, part blog written by an American expat living in Adana with his Turkish wife.
  15. Inside Out Istanbul: Lisa Morrow, author of  Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City and Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries shares book reviews, life tales, and plenty of photos.

+ 1 Best of Bursa: An expat family shares their favorite experiences in a city they’ve come to call home.

Looking for More Reading: the Daily Sabah has also collected an “Ultimate list of expat blogs on Turkey” to be found here.

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Filed under Community, Exploring, Family, Recipes, Retiring Abroad, Turkish Cuisine, Turkish Culture

Turkey’s City Street Food

If you’ve been around the beach, you know the basics (or can find them here: Turkey’s Best Beach Food): gözleme, ayran, stuffed mussles, melon ice cream bowls, steamed corn, fresh fish.  But what can you eat when you hit Turkey’s urban streets?  Here are some of the must-try simple street snacks (or full meals) you’ll find in almost every urban center:

19555587985_89648f59d8_zBreakfast:

Head to the nearest wheeled glass cart labeled “halk ekmek” (“people’s bread”) or the small shop by the bus stop and grab a few simit for a simple start to the day. At first glance a simit may look a bit like a bagel covered in sesame seeds.  Cracked open it can be eaten with soft spread cheese.

3077558355_04f058d2be_mTired of simit?  Ask for a poğaça instead.  At 2/1 lira they’re still quite cheap, and come with a variety of savory stuffings  like olive (zeytin), cheese (peynir), or spicy sausage (sucuk).

salepFinish off your breakfast with a glass of strong Turkish tea or salepa traditional drink made with powdered orchid root and flavoured with cinnamon.




Lunch/Quick Dinner/Midnight Snacks

Turkey’s most popular savory street food is the doner kebab (here known as durum) with long strips of lamp of chicken rolled in flatbread with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and the occasional french fry (curious about what defines a kebab? read our post here). But if you only know the doner… you’ve barely dabbled in Turkish street tastes!

7793420340_cf56c7e319_zOnly got 10 minutes for lunch? One of Turkey’s most popular “fast foods” is lahmacun, a flatbread topped and backed with minced meat and a garlic-tomato paste, almost always paired with a cool glass of ayran (salty yogurt).  Almost any neighborhood will have a lunch joint with 2 lahmacun + ayran lunch specials for about 5 lira.  Don’t forget a squeeze of lemon!

tantuni

If you’re seriously on the run, grab a tantuni or “Turkish burrito”.  Tantuni are wraps composed of ground meat cooked on a wide metal plate with spices and oil then rolled up with slices of onion, tomato, cilantro and lettuce.  Take it with a hot green pepper if you can handle extra-spicy.

Hit by 3 am hunger pains? Head for a kokoreç stand.  While chopped sheep intestines might not sound appealing during the day, this savory, spicy and complex flavoured sandwich is sure to satisfy your midnight cravings.

19271026726_4d83c7aa55_zLooking for something a little more sophisticated?  Pideoften nicknamed “the Turkish pizza” is a boat-shaped oven-baked bread topped with everything from spinach and feta to chicken and tomatoes to ground beef and cheese. Expect fresh bread hot out of the oven, with the juices from the toppings just starting to sink into the dough. Ask for a side of tomatoes and sliced cucumbers with a sprinkling of lemon.

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Vegetarian? No worries. bulgar-based Çiğ köfte is savory, sometimes spicey, and always delicious, whether eaten alone or in a wrap. Each region has it’s own recipe for Çiğ köfte though, as a rule, the ingredients include and bulgur, chopped cilantro, onion, tomato paste, spices, crushed garlic and salt.  Again, everything is better with a slice of lemon!

Snacks

2037583738_eb5fcd9dfb_zIn winter warm your hands and your soul with a cup full of hot roasted chestnuts (kestane) and served in a paper cone for 2-5 lira per portion.

Don’t forget that Turkey has great regional varieties in cuisine – while in Kayseri you’ll have to try the kayseri mantisi; in Bursa, iskender kebab, and in testi kebab in Cappadocia.

Hungry for more? We know you are… Check out these pages extensively covering Istanbul’s street food scene, and share with us you favorite street foods from around the country.

World’s Best Street Food: Istanbul Edition

Beyond the Doner: Real Turkish Food

IstanbulEats.com

Culinary Back Streets: Istanbul’s Best Street Foods

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Filed under Exploring, Turkish Cuisine

Exploring Turkish Cuisine: What Exactly is a Kebab?

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Two types of Kebab: Adana (back) and Beyti (front)

In the US we tend to think of a “kebab” as a grilled food on a stick: sizzling sliced of red meat and onions over the charcoals, vegetable kebabs, Hawaiian kebabs with speared pineapples and fish.  In most of Western Europe it’s sliced meat in a pita. But in Turkey you will encounter plenty of things called a kebab that look nothing like what I described above.  The meat may not be skewered; there may not even be a grill; there’s often not a pita.  In fact, some Turkish kebabs, like Tesli Kebabi, come in a baked clay bowl and look more like a stew.  Others, like the simit kebab, are sliced and wrapped in lavash under a dressing of sour yogurt.

kebab

Traditional Çöp Şiş

So what exactly is a Turkish kebab?

When you think of a kebab, the image that comes to mind is probably that of  Shish kebabs (Çöp Şiş or şiş kebap in Turkish) or shashlik (mixed meat and vegetables skewered and grilled).  But those are only two variations of kebabs. Kebab itself actually refers to a type of meat preparation – usually.

“Kebab” style meat – sliced meat layered on an upright spittle, then slowly rotated until cooked through, and carved off in thin slices – was invented by a Busa native named Iskender in the late 19th century. Kebabs can also refer to chunks of meat skewered and grilled, or a meat stew. Kebabs are traditionally made from lamb, but you can also find chicken kebabs, beef kebabs, and mixed meat and vegetable kebabs.  That is to say – there’s no one all-encompassing definition of a kebab. Each region has a few famous varieties; we recommend you try them all to determine for yourself what a kebab actually and truly is.

Some of our favorites from around Turkey:

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Turkey’s Best Beach Food

Turkish Cuisine is most known for its fragrant, nutty desserts, succulent meats, and lavish breakfast platter.  But what do people eat when they’re hitting up the beach? Obviously not hotdogs and cotton candy.

Turkey’s many beaches have an abundance of food on offer, from the universally popular stuffed mussels to more unusual creations like melon icecream bowls. You’re likely to buy your beach food from one of three places: open-air cafes selling popular dishes all day, usually located just back from the beach; mobile food carts and village locals selling hand-cooked goods and cold drinks from baskets; and seasonal cafes set up on the sand.

Spinach Gözleme

Gözleme

Gözleme is the standby dish of Turkish beach-goers, delicious for breakfast, lunch, snack or even dinner.  Gözleme is made by rolling out thin sheets of dough, stuffing the dough with various fresh ingredients (traditional varieties include spinach, spinach and white cheese, yellow cheese, and cheese and potatoes), and baking it for a few minutes in a tandoor oven.  You will often see people carrying plastic tubs full of ready-made gözleme on the beach, and cafes selling oven-hot gözleme to order ring almost every watering hole.  Average price: 3-7 Lira.

Gözleme tent at Kaputaş Plaji

Gözleme tent at Kaputaş Plaji

Papery, savory gözleme is the perfect follow-up to an afternoon swim, best enjoyed from a shaded tent where you can get a little respite from the sun.

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Fresh Vegetables and Ayran

Almost every outdoor cafe will serve up a side of fresh vegetables, or a simple mixed sheperd’s salad (Çoban Salatası).  Garden-fresh cucumbers and sun-ripened tomatoes are perfect when accompanied by a glass of cold, salty Ayran, especially after a swim (or sweating in the sun).

Midye

Ever seen a man walking around with a cloth-covered dish? He’s probably selling Midye – steamed mussels stuffed with mixed pilaf and eaten with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Sari Kardesler Midye Stand, Bodrum

Sari Kardesler Midye Stand, Bodrum

Each town has their “midye barons”, the most famous probably being Bodrum’s Sarı Kardeşler Midyecilik, so well-known they even have their own facebook page. PriceL 0.5-1 Lira/mussel

Kavun Dondurma – Melon Bowl Ice Cream

If you’ve ever traveled to Turkey – anywhere in Turkey – you’ve probably noticed how popular (and prevalent) ice cream is.  Of course the tourists go for the blocks of ‘Turkish Ice Cream’ sold by men in red Ottoman caps.  But even beyond Istanbul’s most crowded thoroughfares, ice cream is everywhere, usually for sale in bright glass cares featuring twenty to firty flavors, from raspberry to blackberry to strawberry to chocolate to fudge to hazelnut to walnut to pistachio to caramel to…well, you get it.

But Turkey’s beaches offer something unique: ice cream scooped into a melon bowl.  The melons used are not as sweet or sugary as cantaloupe, and at least make your dessert choice seem a little healthier.  Price: 5 Lira

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If you do want to skip the ice cream, and just go for the fruit, several beaches have stands selling cactus fruits ( hailed – without much scientific backing – as “Nature’s Viagra”) for around 2 Lira.  But beware – make sure yours is completely skinned before handling it yourself, or you could get cacti spikes embedded in your skin (trust me on this one).

*Really* Fresh Juice

And if you’d rather avoid the prickles, most beaches (along with almost every street in most cities) will have a nearby cafe or stand selling fresh-pressed orange juice. Many places will also make grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice, carrot juice, and mixed juice for about 1.5-3 lira a cup, fresh-squeezed while you wait.

There are also plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable stands (and fresh fruit juice stands) selling local organic produce by the side of the road.

There are also plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable stands (and fresh fruit juice stands) selling local organic produce by the side of the road.

süt mısır…delivery bicycle?

Steamed Corn (“süt mısır”) is also a popular snack, both in town and on the beach.  Look for small stands with closed stainless steel containers covered in white cloth or… a corncicle. Popular toppings include vinegar, butter, salt, pepper, hot pepper, lemon juice, and pomegranate sauce. Price: 1.5-4 Lira

Rakı Balık

Rakı Balık

If you’re more than a little peckish, and fruit and corn just won’t cut it, despair not! Turkey’s most famous beach food is of course fish!  A quick dinner can be made of balık ekmek (Fish sandwich, literally “fish bread”, see the video below), but fresh fish is often best  grilled and served with a squeeze of lemon, a tart side salad, and a glass of raki.  The dinner is so popular that it’s simply known as “rakı balık” – raki and fish. A trip along Turkey’s coast cannot be said complete without a dinner of rakı balık, preferably on a terrace as the sun sets over the sea.

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Filed under Beaches, Day Trips, Turkish Cuisine, Turkish Culture, Turkish Riviera

A Veteran’s Take on Retirement in Turkey

Below is a selection from very thorough and measured assessment of retiring in Turkey written by Colin Guest, a British man who has lived in the country for over two decades.  You can read the full (rather lengthy) in Retirement and Good Living.  Even though this is a fairly recent review, several Turkish laws that he mentioned have since changed – make sure to check the most recent health insurance, residence permit and property purchasing laws before making any plans!

The article is quite extensive, so here’s the summary of his thoughts:

In general, I think Turkey is a good place to retire. What with beautiful weather, and living costs being quite reasonable, one can enjoy a relaxing and healthy lifestyle here. Also, Turkish people are well known for being very hospitable and friendly. If you happen to have a problem, there is usually someone who will help you out. It is also quite safe to walk around here. As for crime, apart from once catching someone trying to pick my pocket, I have never had any problems whilst living here.

Retirement in Turkey

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 Colin Guest

Retire in TurkeyAs a retired Englishman, one who has lived in Turkey for over 25 years, I have no hesitation in recommending it as a place to retire. Down on the Mediterranean Coast, where I lived until getting remarried in 2012, there is an average of 300+ days of sunshine a year. This compared to living in the UK where sunshine is at a premium, is reason alone to retire here. However, I must point out that normally, during July and August, the temperatures can be very high. At these times, it is advisable to think about taking a holiday to somewhere cooler.

As for buying or renting property here, costs I think are quite reasonable compared to some other countries. As an example, one can rent a good-sized 3-bedroom apartment in the city of Antalya for around £280 ($456) per month. Smaller apartments are of course much cheaper. These prices, however, can vary considerably; depending on which area you choose to live. In Istanbul for instance, housing costs are far higher than in other areas of Turkey. Buying property here is very easy. Although you do not require using an Avukat (lawyer) to buy a property, I highly recommend you use one. Just think for a minute, would you buy a property in England (or the US) without using a solicitor. The answer is a definite NO! Therefore, before buying a property, use an Avukat. If possible, use one who is recommended by someone you know who purchased a property.

One thing to be aware of about buying property here is the inheritance law. This unlike in the UK is somewhat different. In the event of your death, if you have children, they are automatically entitled to a share of any property that is in your name….Retire in Turkey

Medical care here in Turkey is very good. In fact, patients come to Turkey to have operations, unlike in the UK; there are no waiting lists here. Also, costs for operations are quite reasonable compared to the UK. I have had two operations here, and was well satisfied with both the operations and aftercare received. There are many first class hospitals in Turkey, fitted with the latest technology and staffed by English speaking doctors. SGK….  is a Turkish health organization, which you can join as long as you do not receive a pension from England. The monthly costs for this is around 285 TL (£81, $132). As a member of SGK you are entitled to receive free health care in Government hospitals, as well as obtaining prescription medicines at greatly reduced costs…

Transport here is both cheap and efficient, with most buses air-conditioned. As an example of costs, a ticket from the city of Antalya to Kemer, a distance of approximately 50km, is around £2 ($3.25). Apart from buses, Antalya has a metro system, which is inexpensive to use. In Istanbul, one has a wide range of available transportation. There are buses, metro lines and ferries. You can also use a Dolmus, which are basically mini buses that carry around 10 persons. These are both a cheap and efficient way of getting around to various places. All taxis here are fitted with meters….

There are many new shopping centers throughout the country. You can now buy most things except pork, which is only available in a few places. When shopping outside of the major shopping centers, you can try to barter down the cost. In many places this is expected, especially in tourist areas and open markets. Some of the best buys in Turkey include gold & silver jewelry, which is of excellent quality and design. Leather is also of high quality and of the latest fashion. Turkish carpets are known worldwide for being of high quality. However, when buying one, you should always barter down the cost.

There are many water sports available if you decide to live on the Mediterranean or Aegean Coast. There are also many excellent marinas, both in the large cities and hidden away in numerous well sheltered bays. For the golfer, there are over 12 top quality golf courses in Belek designed by a world known professional golfers. This is approximately a 30 minutes’ drive East down the coast from Antalya International airport. There is also a course in Bodrum, with three courses in Istanbul. Films are available in English, in most cinemas throughout Turkey. By using a satellite TV system, you are able to view English films and several International News channels.

Retire in TurkeyIf you are over 65, and want to get married to a Turkish person, the process is quite involved and requires various forms and signatures.

A word of warning. If you are thinking of working here, you must have a work permit. If you are caught working without one, you will be deported. Also, never go into business without first consulting an Avukat (lawyer). I myself have not had a problem re this, although my late wife and some friends lost money by not consulting an Avukat, before parting with their money.

In general, I think Turkey is a good place to retire. What with beautiful weather, and living costs being quite reasonable, one can enjoy a relaxing and healthy lifestyle here. Also, Turkish people are well known for being very hospitable and friendly. If you happen to have a problem, there is usually someone who will help you out. It is also quite safe to walk around here. As for crime, apart from once catching someone trying to pick my pocket, I have never had any problems whilst living here.

You can read more about the author on Author’s Den and buy Colin’s full e-book here

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Filed under Finance, Health Insurance, Legal Affairs, Practicalities, Purchasing Property, Retiring Abroad, Shopping, Transportation, Turkish Riviera