So I may or may not have just stuffed my face full of macarons in Paris, but I am still not done talking about Turkish food, and this is my website so you have to listen to me. Part of the allure about Turkish food is that aside from the döner kebab, it hasn’t made the international rounds so much as its Greek counterparts across the Aegean. I think that’s why Turkish breakfast was such a highlight of the week I spent in Istanbul; before arriving I didn’t even know Turkish breakfast was A Thing. I didn’t seek it out after doing hours of research online. I didn’t read about it on another website or in a guidebook. Turkish breakfast found me. With a little help from my friend Lara, of course.
Turkish Breakfast Spread of Olives, Ricotta (Lor) with Fresh Herbs, Clotted Cream and Honeycomb
I grew up eating big breakfasts, my father often rising early to make grits, cream of wheat, kippers, or more often than not a “Chinese noodle soup” that cleverly incorporated the previous night’s leftovers with noodles and homemade stock. While I appreciate a sweet breakfast (I may or may not have just eaten a pain au chocolate), I prefer the hearty and savory–something that could take you all the way to dinner, if need be.
Turkish breakfast provides the whole package, consisting of an assortment of dishes savory and sweet paired with bread and tea. Basic elements include assorted cheeses, olives, honey, eggs, tomatoes, and cucumbers which are joined in simple configurations or left standing alone for a mezze-like breakfast of nibbles.
Soft-Boiled Egg with “Soldiers”
The first two photos are from a lovely breakfast shared with friends along the Bosphorus on a crisp and sunny day. I ordered lor (Turkish ricotta) with herbs, soft-boiled eggs, olives, and clotted cream with honey comb. While I used to avoid egg yolks for taste and health reasons, the bright orange yolks in Turkey won me over. Allegedly, an orange yolk indicates a healthy egg laid by a healthy chicken. Health benefits or not, the eggs were rich and robust, which paired well with the delicate and fluffy cheese on pieces of sesame bread.
Turkish Breakfast Spread with Fresh Vegetable Salad, Scrambled Eggs with Peppers and Tomatoes, Honey and Clotted Cream
The other great thing about Turkish breakfast is that it’s normal to order a salad of fresh vegetables. Though I may neglect the simpler, healthier foods while traveling, I almost always crave them–even in the morning! Whether you order a cucumber and tomato salad on the side or veggie-packed scrambled eggs in a tomato broth, you’re probably going to be eating something more balanced than the carb and sugar bombs common in the rest of Europe and America. Ah, vitamins! Also, check out the color on those tomatoes. You won’t be served anything mealy, out of season, or otherwise disappointing in the vegetable department.
Clotted Cream with Honeycomb
Sweet toothed people do not have to fear a Turkish breakfast, however, because one of the best things on the menu is lovely clotted cream with real honeycomb. The flavor and intensity of Turkish honey was unlike what I’ve had elsewhere. Some honeys were dark and smokey, with a flavor of tobacco to meet the sweetness and others claimed a bourbon-like mellowness. Sure, a few I sampled had the floral notes I am used to, but they were much more concentrated in flavor. The honey doesn’t sweeten the cream in a Turkish breakfast, but the cream cuts the honey’s intensity. Though tea is more popular than coffee as a beverage of choice during the meal, I thought the slightly spiced and rather thick Turkish coffees paired really well with these strong honey varietals.
Though the quality of the various parts may vary across the world, I think I could pull off a decent Turkish breakfast in the states with homemade ricotta and fresh herbs, local olives, good eggs, and honey. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
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