Turkish Flat Bread (Pide Ekmeği)
To the right of the red plate is Turkish tea, in a slim belly glass which is very traditional. I personally do not get the taste of tea, unless I drink my tea in these glasses. Right above the tea is apricot jam. Straight above the jam is “yayık tereyağı” which is butter that is strained from fresh yogurt. In some parts of Turkey it can be made from milk. For centuries, women in villages have made this kind of butter. It used to be rarely found in supermarkets since commercial butter has taken their place on the shelves. I used to watch my late grandmother when she used to make this butter at home. She used to have a wooden, cylinder shaped item where she would place the yogurt and then shake it vigorously until the butter separated from yogurt. This butter is in its most natural form; no chemicals or any foreign ingredients. It is the tastiest butter I have ever tasted. I guess it is not surprising since it is all natural. I found this type of butter (made from milk instead of yogurt) at the local Turkish market a few months ago and I was very surprised as I did not realize that it was sold in markets. To tell the truth, my grandmother’s butter was much better, but this particular one is still preferable to the other commercial butter that is so detrimental to our health. I actually looked at the ingredients of this butter when I purchased it and it had only two ingredients; milk cream and milk culture.
To the left of the butter, fried potatoes are waiting quietly in a small plate. Straight above the potatoes, a plate full of Turkish sausage, white cheese and kaşar cheese. White cheese is very similar to feta cheese, but I think it’s a little creamier. It can be produced from cow’s or sheep’s milk. No breakfast is complete without white cheese in Turkey. Kaşar cheese is a yellowish cheese that reminds me of swiss cheese. Usually, it is made out of sheep’s milk.
To the left of the sausage and cheese plate is a plate full of black olives. Either green or black olives accompany every Turkish breakfast. Dressing olives is a very common practice even for breakfast. I will post some dressed olive recipes sometime in the future. Below the olives is a pan with a vegetable omelet. Usually “menemen” replaces this omelet, but again it is a matter of preference. That morning, we felt like having an omelet with the veggies we had available in the fridge.
In the left of the omelet is a box of helva with pistachios. This is a sweet that can be based on flour or semolina. Above the helva is a plate of sliced tomato slices with some peppers. The day I set up this breakfast, I did not have any cucumbers on hand, so just imagine that there are fresh, sliced cucumbers next to the tomatoes.
Right below the helva is honey that came with me all the way from Turkey. This honey is produced by my father’s bees that he raises as a hobby. It does taste much better than the commercial honey.
Breakfasts, especially weekend breakfasts are always eaten together with family in Turkey. That is something I look forward to when I visit Turkey. During the summer months, I especially enjoy my mother-in-law’s breakfast which is very rich in variety, set up in the middle of a rose garden, under the shade of an arched pergola covered in bougainvillea vine. It did not take me long to figure out the reason behind my husband’s wanting to have a big breakfast every Saturday and Sunday. Although, we do not have the beautiful setting of his front yard in Turkey, we have the food and each other. Our longest and most useful conversations occur during breakfast and afterwards while sipping our tea. During the week, we have a banana, an apple and some other fruits that are in season such as orange or strawberries for breakfast which we eat at work. Therefore, the weekend breakfast is something we both look forward to.
Note: The picture on the top of my blog behind the title shows a typical Turkish breakfast. My sister-in-law prepared this inviting breakfast table at her house when I visited her in Ankara, Turkey last summer.