When travelling, your first morning in a new place can be a tricky one. The trifecta of groggy, disoriented and hungry makes it all too tempting to eat the first thing you can grab. It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
Every year, hundreds of patients visit our hair transplant clinic and we know many of them don’t take the opportunity to try Turkey’s famous breakfasts. Find out what to expect at a Turkish breakfast table and start the day off right.
In Turkey, breakfast is often a grand affair. Many hotels, and even hostels, offer breakfast as part of your booking. The first meal of the day arrives as a platter at your table or in a full buffet with a dizzying array of choice.
The food at a Turkish breakfast table
Classic Turkish breakfasts are centred around freshly baked breads, from crusty loaves to flatbreads. Expect to find plenty to eat with that bread, including fresh cheese similar to feta, semi-hard cheese called kashkaval, boiled eggs, olives and fresh vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. Look out for thick, creamy yoghurt with savoury additions, too.
Meat-lovers fret not, there are also spiced beef sausages (sucuk) and other charcuterie to sample.
Do you prefer a sweet start? Enter fruit preserves, honey and butter. Also try kaymak, the Turkish equivalent of clotted cream. Pure white, soft and creamy, it’s served in a pool of honey and destined for your next thick slice of fresh bread.
The Turkish morning staple menemen is for those who couldn’t go without a cooked breakfast. It’s a vegetable-laden version of scrambled eggs. Onions, peppers and tomatoes are slowly cooked until caramelised, and eggs are stirred in for a soft, lightly spicy breakfast to pile high onto – you guessed it – bread.
But don’t let the categories fool you. You could easily have a little of everything and find yourself indulging in a 3-course meal before you’ve even left your hotel.
A jolt of caffeine
The Turkish word for breakfast, khavalti, translates literally to “before coffee”. This should help you understand how Turks feel about coffee at the breakfast table. If you’re keen to try a bold, strong Turkish coffee, you’ll have to wait until after your morning meal.
While hotels that cater to non-Turkish guests will likely have some sort of basic coffee on offer, black tea is the traditional beverage for starting the day.
Tea is brewed to be very strong, too strong to drink it straight. Cut it with hot water to your taste, and try it black (no milk!). Forget the branded office mugs when it comes to Turkish tea. Enjoy the ceremony of drinking this cherished beverage from small tea glasses.
While you may know tea is important to Turkish culture, it may surprise you to learn that Turkey is one of the largest markets for tea in the world. They produce more than 6 percent of the world’s tea, and the Turkish drink the most tea per person than any other country. (That’s about 1 kilo more per person annually than in the UK!)
On the go
If you’re in a rush or just can’t handle a big breakfast, you still have options. Get your hands on that crusty fresh bread and cheese for a DIY breakfast sandwich, or grab a börek to take away.
Börek is a stuffed pastry made of thin sheets of flaky dough. Filled with cheese, minced meat or vegetables, they’re either baked, fried or boiled – depending on the filling and style. Served all day, they’re not just for breakfast, but would be a delicious and filling way to start off a morning in Turkey. If you have even a few minutes, enjoy one with tea or a glass of the yoghurt based-drink ayran.
Maybe you’ll be in a self-catered accommodation or want to try breakfast away from your hotel. You’re in luck! As you may have guessed, the day’s first meal is taken seriously in Turkey. Finding a local spot should be easy, whether it’s in a straightforward cafe or a more luxurious place.
Turkey isn’t France, where you wouldn’t dare to ask for a takeaway sandwich at a bistro, so keep your options open. Restaurants better known for dinner will often serve a full spread to start the day.
Late starters aren’t forgotten either. Increasingly, you can find kahvalti salonu, or breakfast salons, that serve an assortment of breakfast foods all day. Some places even deliver. What could be better?
Whether you take a chance on a welcoming-looking storefront or spend a few minutes checking reviews online, it’s worth making the effort.
Don’t miss the chance to try a real Turkish breakfast!