Food is a really important part of our Turkish culture. Turkish people have a love and appreciation for food that extends well beyond any social or economic boundaries. We Esendemir Sisters all share a mutual fondness of traditional, simple Turkish food that will never change. One of the things we think about often and adore from our childhood are the memories of mornings our mother would prepare us a bountiful, traditional Turkish breakfast. In our culture, a traditional breakfast is one of the most simple, but beautiful ways to spend time with your family members and to start the day off right. For the past few years, we have been running around like crazy, so we have hardly had the opportunity to make time for a sit down family breakfast. We have however, constantly said to each other, how much we miss eating Turkish breakfast. We finally decided to make time for a sit down Turkish breakfast with our brother (yes, we have a brother), our sister-in-law, and our parents. Our father took us to the Turkish market to pick up some of the staples that make up a Turkish breakfast since you cannot really buy some of these items in regular grocery stores. Our mom was super excited and of course, immediately took over the kitchen and refused to let anyone help her do anything. Our mother is very traditional and unphased by the modern world and all its advances. She still prefers to do things the traditional way and will not allow anyone to assist her in the kitchen. She is a terrific cook and she becomes passionately entrenched in whatever dish she is making. Anyone who wants to understand where our culinary skills come from just needs to spend five minutes watching our mother or father cook and it will all make sense to them. Both our parents are terrific cooks who love and appreciate good food. Below is our visual diary of our weekend Turkish breakfast. A Turkish breakfast is called kahvaltı, which translates into: ‘under coffee’ (food you eat before you drink your coffee).
The essentials of a Turkish breakfast as we enjoy it are as follows: tea (the stronger, the better, earl grey or english breakfast is the best), white cheese (tastes a little like feta, but a bit more mild), kasar cheese, olives (zeytin), various flavors of jam/jelly, honey, butter, bread (simit and pita are our favorites for breakfast), eggs, sucuk, tomatoes and cucumbers.
There are a few specialty Turkish items that cannot be found in regular grocery stores. One of our favorite types of Turkish cheeses, other than feta, is kasar. It is also the second most popular cheese in Turkey. It is an un-aged cheese made from cow’s milk. You can buy it ‘hard’ or ‘soft’. We prefer the softer kind since it’s easier to cut. It is delicious by itself, but we really enjoy eating it with tomatoes, olives and combining it with feta cheese. It also compliments the sucuk (more on that below) very well, balancing out the spices.
Olives are a huge part of the Turkish diet and have a very prominent place in a breakfast setting. Whether you are at the Turkish Market or in Turkiye itself, there is always a large olive selection. We prefer green olives and traditional Turkish black olives.
We don’t get to spend much time with our sister-in-law, unfortunately, but it’s always a pleasure to see her. She is a working woman and has a job that demands much of her time.
Our mom is very, very traditional, having grown up on a farm, and doesn’t flinch at modern technology (you’ll also notice her hair, which she puts henna on herself… she is very self-sufficient). By the time one of us found a cutting board to give her, she was already finished cutting up the sucuk (a dry, seasoned sausage that is very popular in Turkey).
Sucuk is a very popular type of Turkish sausage and also one of our favorite things to eat for breakfast! It is one of the most popular types of fermented meat product in Turkey. It is very hearty and tasty. Many people prefer their sucuk spicy, but we opted for a mild version since the spicy version tends to be a bit too overwhelming.
Sucuk can be eaten by itself, but Turkish people eat it with eggs. Our mom cooked the sucuk a bit first and then added the eggs later. Many people also throw feta cheese into the mix, but we wanted to have the feta cheese served on the side.
Our mom will not sit down when she is cooking. She also demands everyone get out of her way and let her work. She doesn’t mess around. She moves quick and furiously and doesn’t like interruptions. Cooking is serious business to her. Arzu took over and cooked the eggs into the sucuk. It’s important to cook it properly because you don’t want to overcook the sucuk, it will dry out and dried out sucuk is not tasty (and very difficult to chew).
While the eggs and sucuk cooked together, we prepared the sides. Our mom also noticed that we had forgotten to buy cucumbers and sent our older sister off to the grocery store to buy some because we couldn’t have a Turkish breakfast without cucumbers!
Bread is a really important part of Turkish breakfast. Simit is a very, very popular type of Turkish bread. It is round, with a hole in the middle and almost always has sesame seeds on it. Fresh simit is delicious! Pita is also another type of popular bread in Turkey, but is considered a ‘flatbread’.
Tea is a really big part of Turkish culture.
Family is and will always be the most important thing in the world to us.
Hope you enjoyed! Cheers… from our family to yours!