Turkish Cuisine in The Heat of Summer
As summer starts to show its face and short sleeves, light and comfy dresses and thin linen dresses come out of the wardrobes, rich dining tables and the finest delicacies of the Turkish cuisine that appear on these tables in all their splendor are transformed into a potpourri that brings together different flavors.
Maraş Ice Cream
Ice cream is one of the most popular and delicious treats of summer. Loved by people of all ages, this delicacy forms an important part of the dessert culture with its history dating back to centuries ago and a great host of varieties. And the most renowned ice cream variety unique to Turkey is the Maraş ice cream –the foremost regional delicacy in Maraş, the fame of which has spread all across Turkey over the years. Maraş ice cream owes its flavor to the milk obtained from the goats feeding on the endemic plants that grow on Mount Ahir in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş while its aroma and taste brought by wild orchid root seeds (sahlep) makes it one of the most indispensable flavors of summer.
Made by diluting yoghurt with water and adding salt, this yoghurt-based Turkish drink can also have a light foam forming on top when it is stirred rapidly for a prolonged time during its preparation. Cooled and served with fresh mint on top in summer, ayran is frequently consumed with meat and vegetable dishes as well as kebabs.
With hundreds of different varieties, sherbet (şerbet) is a delicacy that has been consumed for centuries as a refreshment particularly by the warmer eastern civilizations before the discovery of modern beverages. Made from all kinds of fruits one can think of including lemons, apples, pomegranates, grapes, blossoms of fruit trees and even from flowers such as violets, lilies, jasmines, water lilies, silverberry blossoms, sherbet is then sweetened with honey or sugar and its smell and aroma boosted with the addition of musk, amber, rose and aloe. Some sherbets are consumed warm while others are taken cold. Once served to the guests of the Ottoman court visiting after the sultan had a child and sold by mobile peddlers in marketplace and the fairgrounds during the Ottoman era, sherbet has become more as a touristic element today.
Bici bici pudding (Bici bici muhallebisi) is a dessert unique to Adana province, consumed in the summer. The most commonly known form of this sweet drink, which is popularly called bici bici, consists of crushed ice, cooked starch, granulated sugar and sherbet. While it used to be a product that was consumed almost exclusively by street peddlers in the past, bici bici is now also served as a dessert in restaurants and cafés in recent years. Widely consumed in Bursa as well as Adana and other provinces in the Mediterranean region, bici bici is the favorite of those who look for a refreshment in the heat of summer.
A staple of the Eastern Mediterranean, and particularly the Turkish cuisines, mezes are usually served cold and in addition to being consumed as appetizers before the main course, they also enjoy a principal place in the Turkish cuisine as indispensable elements of raki tables. Mezes come in a vast variety. They vary from simple varieties such as cheese, fruits, and yoghurt to vegetables like borlotti beans in olive oil, purslane, eggplants and paprika and seafoods such as calamari and shrimps. Rather than eating one’s fill, mezes add flavor to the dining experience and color to the chats at the table.
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Made from squash blossoms collected in the early hours of the morning before the rise of the sun across many regions of the Aegean and the Mediterranean, this dish enjoys the seat of honor on the dining tables in summer. It is very important to collect in the early hours of the morning when they are fully open and worn away by the heat the blossoms, harvesting of which starts in July. In the Aegean and the Mediterranean, you can find in the neighborhood marketplaces squash blossoms collected and lined up in water. And if you happen to visit Seferihisar, you can also buy at the regional marketplace the stuffed squash blossoms prepared and cooked by local women.
Ayran Aşı Soup
One of the most important flavors of the Turkish cuisine, ayran aşı soup comes to the rescue of those who wish to refresh themselves in summer as it gets warmer. A filling and nutritious food thanks to ingredients such as chickpeas, yoghurt and wheat, ayran aşı soup is a staple of the dinner tables across Turkey.