pickled cabbage and carrot

These kinda meals 😍👌🏼
Pretty much a deconstructed sushi bowl with all the goods! Loads of rice, greens, edamame, carrot, cucumber, purple cabbage, tofu, radish pickled ginger, sesame & soy sauce 🙌🏼🌱✨
✖️Will be back to making YouTube vids/regular post & vid uploads tomorrow! 🙂👋🏼

Şerefe!/Cheers!

Whether you need some liquid courage for the night, something refreshing to quench your palate, or something comforting to warm your heat, Turkey has got you covered on drinks. Here’s a list of beverages you can find in Turkey. 

Yeni rakı is the top rakı brand in Turkey. Turks consume an average of 1.5 litres of rakı per capita per year. 

  • Rakı: As one of the top choice alcohols in Turkey rakı can be seen everywhere. This aniseed based drink generally has a 40-45% alcohol level. Similar drinks are popular in the Balkans, and to a lesser extent Iran and other Turkic countries. Rakı is so popular in fact, it is considered the national drink in Turkey.  Rakı turns white when water is added. Due to this it has gained the colloquial title of “aslan sütü” or “lion’s milk”. In Turkish culture lions are seen as symbols of bravery and courage, hence implying it is a drink for strong men - it is popular among all types of people however. It is a popular pairing with fish and red meat dishes.  

Ayran is best served frothy. 

  • Ayran: Ayran is yogurt drink mixed with salt and cold water. It is usually paired with grilled meat dishes. Nomadic Turks have consumed ayran since before 1000 A.D. and some theorize that Göktürks had invented it when trying to improve the taste of bitter yogurt. Similar drinks are popular in Western, Central, and South Asia. 

Turkish coffee in a typical coffee cup with a side of lokum (Turkish delights). 

  • Türk Kahvesi: Sometimes confused as being a type of coffee bean, Turkish coffee is actually a method of preparing coffee. Roasted coffee is ground into a fine powder then simmered with water in a pot (cezve). The grounds are left in the coffee. A good cup of coffee should have a thick layer of foam on top. The coffee is typically served with biscuits or sweets and a glass of water. Turkish coffee is popular across the Middle East, the Balkans, and other parts of Europe. Turkish coffee has an interesting role in Turkish culture. At one point it was so popular in the Ottoman Empire that it left a mark on Turkish vocabulary. Breakfast is referred to as kahvaltı meaning under or before coffee. The colour brown is kahverengi meaning coffee colour. When a suitor visits a girl’s home with his family, the girl serves everyone Turkish coffee but puts salt in the potential groom’s drink. If he drinks it easily it is suppose to be a sign of his good temper. Kahve falı (tasseography) is also popular in Turkey. People read your fortune by interpreting the coffee grounds left at the bottom of your cup after you turn your cup upside down on a saucer. Most people do not take the fortune seriously but treat it as a fun tradition. 

A tray of black tea served in typical tulip shaped glasses on the shores of Üsküdar with Kız Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower) atop the Bosphorus in the background. 

  • Çay: Çay is by far the most popular drink in Turkey. Turks drinks tea so much and so often that they actually boast the highest average consumption of tea per capital in the world. I’ve made a previous post about tea in Turkey that goes more in-depth, you can read it by clicking here. Below are some of the more common types of tea found in Turkey.
    • Black Tea: At every corner you’ll hear people clinking their spoons against the rim of tulip shaped glasses as they mix some sugar into their black tea. Black tea is the most common type of tea in Turkey. Much of the tea is sourced from Rize, a lush green province on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. 
    • Nane Limon: A common herbal remedy, mint lemon tea is usually drunk to relieve stomach ailments, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and to lower stress. 
    • Ada Çayı: Another popular herbal tea, sage tea is drunk to relieve upset stomachs, relax muscles, relieve sore throats and other cold/flu symptoms, and even reduce menopausal symptoms. 
    • Elma Çayı: Sometimes apple tea is thought to be the most popular Turkish tea by foreigners. This misconception stems from the fact that apple tea is typically served to guests and foreigners in tourist areas because of its sweet taste. It is not an everyday beverage for most Turks. 

A warm cup of salep garnished with cinnamon and coco. 

  • Salep: Salep is a thick warm beverage made from orchid root flour, sugar, milk, and cinnamon. It is commonly consumed in fall and winter. Salep and similar drinks can be found in many former Ottoman territories. 

Glasses of boza waiting to be served. 

  • Boza: Boza is a thick drink made from fermented wheat topped with cinnamon and roasted chickpeas. Boza was traditionally a fall/winter drink because it had to be kept cool in order to prevent spoling; however, with the invention of refrigeration it is now available year-round. The drink is believed to have originated from nomadic Turkic peoples in Central Asia as early as the 6th century B.C. 

A glass of  şalgam among a table of food at a restaurant in Istanbul.

  • Şalgam: This sour drink is made from turnips (şalgam), pickled red carrots, salt, spices, and fermented wheat. It is commonly served along side rakı. Şalgam is sometimes used as a hangover cure. Adana touts itself as the home of şalgam. 

A chef pours gravy on top of a plate of iskender kebap served with a bottle of Şıra (top left corner) at a restaurant in Kadıköy.

  • Şıra: Şıra is a highly sweet non-alchoholic fermented grape drink. It is usually served with iskender kebap, a specialty of Bursa.  

After an advertising ban on alcohol in 2013, Efes put out these ads as a way around the law.  The picture on the left reads “Görmesek de biliriz.” meaning “Even if we don’t see, we know.” The one of the right reads “Ne bu şişe?” meaning “What is this bottle?”. The company wanted to show that they could still generate sales because of how iconic the Efes beer brand and its bottle shape is in Turkey. 

  • Bira: You can’t talk about drinks in Turkey without talking about beer. Beer is the most consumed alcohol in Turkey, accounting for 63% of all alcohol consumption. The largest beer company in Turkey is Efes Pilsen, dominating over 80% of the market. Since the AKP took to office, the government has attempted to lower alcohol consumption by levying heavier taxes, restricting sales, censoring advertisement, and imposing partial drinking bans (by area). However, consumption hasn’t been affected much by the policies and is generally on a slow trend upward. 

Red wine is poured into a glass looking out at the hot air balloons and beautiful rock formation in Cappedocia. The area is one of the largest wine producing regions in the country and historically had some wine production when Christians used to live in Central Anatolia.

  • Şarap: Anatolia has a long history of wine production and is thought to be one of the oldest wine producing regions of the world dating back 7000 years. Even when Islam was introduced into Anatolia, the tradition continued not just among the Christian communities (for whom it was permitted) but among Muslims despite attempted bans. At one point even the Hanafi school of thought, the leading basis for Islamic law in the Ottoman Empire, allowed for the consumption of alcohol. Hanafis later changed their position on this subject disapproving it. Red wine is the most common wine in Turkey. Alcohol consumption varies in Turkey. The Marmara and Aegean region boast the highest percentage with 20% and 18.8% of people consuming it respectively, with South Eastern Anatolia having the lowest at 4.7%. Overall consumption across the country stand at about 17%. 

Some of the most popular brands of sparkling mineral water in Turkey. 

  • Soda: The word soda in Turkish is often used to describe sparkling water. This might seem like a mundane beverage to put on this list, but it is commonly ordered off of menus at restaurants and bought from grocery stores as it is thought to help digestion. Though we have Perrier and San Pellegrino in North America, these are marketed as luxury sparkling waters and are not as widely consumed compared to Turkey’s demand for sparkling water.  

A man gets ready to eat balık ekmek (fish sandwich) with a side of turşu suyu.

  • Turşu suyu: Similar to şalgam, turşu suyu (pickled vegetable juice) is a sour beverage made from pickled vegetables ranging from beets, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, onion, peppers, garlic, etc. all placed in chunks in a glass of pickle brine. Also like şalgam, it is sometimes considered a hangover cure. Turşu suyu is typically drunk with fish. 

A cold glass of cherry juice ready to drink on a hot summer day. 

  • Vişne Nektarı: It may seem odd to feature a fruit juice but I wanted to put this one of the list because it’s rarely found in North America, cherry juice. Vişne is sour cherry, and this juice is particularly popular in the west coast of Turkey and in Afyon which is known in the country for its cherry production. 

Glasses of lohusa Şerbeti being prepared to serve up at a baby shower welcoming a new born a few weeks after birth. 

  • Lohusa Şerbeti: Lohusa Şerbeti is as sweet spiced drink. Traditionally it is drunk by new mothers before birth in order to increase milk production. It is also served to guests at baby showers which, in Turkey, take place after the baby is born. 

I’ve always wanted to witness a citizenship ceremony. I’ve imagined the hope and history behind each immigrant, the journeys they must have taken before coming to the United States. So, I thought, why not kick off our series this way? Why not find people who are just now becoming citizens as a new administration takes power in Washington? 

That idea brought us to Kansas City, Missouri. There, we met the Rahimov family in their home: Erkin and Limara and their two sons, 7 year old Rasool and 16 year old Murad. They won the green card lottery and emigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010. To celebrate our visit, Limara prepared an Uzbek feast. The dining table filled with dish after dish: rice pilaf with beef, beet salad, pickled cabbage, eggplant, shredded carrot salad and homemade bread. “We don’t have guests often,” Murad told me, “but when we do, we give it our all.” It was delicious.

The next day, in a federal courtroom in Kansas City, we watched as Erkin, Limara and Erkin’s 26 year old daughter from his first marriage, Sabikha, took the oath of allegiance to the United States. The courtroom filled with the sound of accents from all over the world – Somalia, Guatemala, China, Iraq, Poland – as the 59 citizens-to-be swore to defend the U.S. constitution.

Just before Judge Arthur Federman conducted the ceremony, he smiled and told the immigrants, “It’s rare that we have an occasion in the courthouse where everyone leaves happy.”  This was one of those days. 

–Melissa Block

(Images: Elissa Nadworny/NPR)