Tasty Turkey – Visions of Hatay
Filling and rolling grape leaves (with rice and beef), Hidirbey Village

Tasty Turkey – Visions of Hatay

Thanks to a wonderful event called Mediterranean Culinary Days (admirably organized by Adnan Sahin, the president of the Anatolian Folk Cuisine Association),  I spent three days in Antakya (Antioch), a city in the province of Hatay, in Anatolia.  There, the wind blows with abandon, sweeping this busy, cacaphonic spot free of dust.  With a bustling center that smells of peppers and smoke, Antakya is a blend of old and new, where licorice tea is poured from brass urns worn on the backs of traditionally costumed vendors, and the sinuous market offers everything from peppers on strings to the latest Pink Martini CD.

Showing dried peppers at the central Antakya market - fifty per string, hundreds of strings
Showing dried peppers at the central Antakya market – fifty per string, hundreds of strings

The goal of this event was to showcase the gastronomic traditions of the Hatay region, and to share Mediterranean culinary influences among the group.  I was there representing my adopted country, which I did by preparing four French dishes for a crowd.  Teams from other Mediterranean countries, including Tunisia and Montenegro, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Spain and Lebanon, were  there too. Together we learned and taught.

Hatay didn’t stint in its generosity as it portrayed its vividly flavored and colored gastronomic heritage that hearkens to the Ottoman empire, the Berbers, and a dozen cultures in between.  We saw, we tasted, we listened, we experienced the depth of an ancient culture that is fully present in the 21st century.

Aside from tasting and seeing so many rich gastronomic emblems of Hatay and the Mediterranean, the blend of cultures  in this lively crowd said one thing. Through sharing our cuisines and sitting together at table we  not only  get along, we do it deliciously!

Filling and rolling grape leaves (with rice and beef), Hidirbey Village
Filling and rolling grape leaves (with rice and beef), Hidirbey Village
Buying licorice infusion, Antakya
Buying licorice infusion, Antakya

 

Rolling and baking pepper and spinach filled breads
Rolling and baking pepper and spinach filled breads at Toma Farm, near Antakya

 

Breakfast, with much cheese, at Toma Farm, outside Antakya
Breakfast, with much cheese, at Toma Farm
Rolling out dough for the winter supply of dry bread - lavash.
Rolling out dough for the winter supply of dry bread – lavash

 

Baking flat breads - lavash - for winter
Baking lavash – for winter

 

Figs, pomegranates, grapes from Toma Farm, outside Antakya
Figs, pomegranates, grapes from Toma Farm, outside Antakya
Harvesting bay leaves
Harvesting bay leaves, Hidirbey Village

 

Sorting bay leaves for oil, Hidirbey Village
Sorting bay leaves for oil, Hidirbey Village
Stirring bay oil over coals, Hidirbey Village
Stirring bay oil over coals, Hidirbey Village

 

 

 

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Cathy Bennett

    great Photos susan!!! beautiful!

    1. Susan

      Cathy, Thank you!!!!!

  2. Molly Hamilton

    Beautiful pictures–so interesting. We are hoping to visit Turkey in a few years.

    1. Susan

      I highly recommend Turkey. It’s a gorgeous place, the people are wonderful, the food is bright and can be very sophisticated. And it’s just so beautiful!

  3. Linda Loving

    Great photos! And I love the way they “do breakfast” in Turkey….never any raisin bran in sight!

    1. Susan

      Linda, this made me laugh. Nope, not a grain nor a dried grape anywhere! Lots of cheese, olives, figs, grapes, breads freshly baked…so healthy and so delicious!

  4. Nan

    Very interesting trip! Thanks.

    1. Susan

      Nan, Thank you, it was!

  5. Lisa Bowie

    Wow Susan, thank you for sharing these lovely photos….looks like peace can be created “one dish at a time!”

    1. Susan

      I’ve always thought that. It was a motivating force for my early adventures studying cooking in France. I’m still convinced.

  6. cooksresource

    I found this fascinating and will share this with other Cuisinettes.
    Nancy

    1. Susan

      Thank you, Nancy!

    1. Susan

      Thank you!

  7. Becky

    I’m drooling!

    1. Susan

      It WAS delicious, Becky!

  8. paulette perrien

    Thank you — will make a small plate of olives and red peppers immediately after send– best – Paulette Perrien

    1. Susan

      Enjoy, then make some hummous!

  9. I am so jealous. Turkey is on my bucket list and your photos made me move it up on my bucket list. What a great time.

    1. Susan

      Now now, jealousy not allowed! But move up Turkey, for certain. It’s the greatest juxtaposition between then and now that I know.

  10. Sara Baer-Sinnott

    Wonderful to see you in Turkey — and you were with Filiz!!!

    1. Susan

      Sara – yes, I was with Filiz and we had such a good time. What a wonderful place…I remember my first visit and my talk about “blue fish” – remember?

  11. Gina DeVee

    OMG!!!!! Susan this looks so amazing I’m so happy for you!

    1. Susan

      Gina, It was a wonderful experience!

  12. Sarah Colton

    Hi Susan, I love your reminder through your comments and charming photos that sharing delicious food is also sharing the bounty of our common humanity. Thanks for being such an excellent ambassador!

    1. Susan

      Sarah, food is the touchstone for sharing, for understanding, for communicating. Now, to get that message out there….Thank you, and great to hear from you!

  13. Jean True

    Susan, thank you so much for sharing your incredible culinary adventure(s). Your pictures tell a beautiful, peaceful story…much taken to heart.

    1. Susan

      Jean , thank you for your lovely comment!

  14. Teena

    Food for thought…

    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

    J.R.R. Tolkien

    1. Susan

      Thank you for this!

  15. Barbara Murchie

    Great photos. That kind of food tastes better in the sunshine. I’m hungry now but it’s raining and cool outside so I’m envious. Susan, what dishes did you contribute. Barb

    1. Susan

      Barb, The dishes are all fantastic. We did praline almonds, chilled puree of cucumber with seasoned fresh cheese, my “famous” tomato tubes with mozzarella, a wonderful dish of melted peppers, chicken cooked briefly with lots of basil and a touch of cream, this we stacked in lovely rounds. Not a drop was left.

    1. Susan

      Joe, tk, as we say in the business. To come!

  16. Lauri Thomasson

    My son and his family are moving to Turkey this year. I can’t wait to visit them and taste some of this delicious food.

    1. Susan

      Lauri,

      You will not just love the food, but the people as well. Turkey is such a special place.

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