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- A practical guide to Cappadocia
Turkish cuisine is often regarded as one of the greatest in the world. Its culinary traditions have successfully survived over 1,300 years. Turkish food combines culinary traditions from the people's nomadic past in Central Asia with influences of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Traditional farming methods ensure fresh and healthy ingredients.
A traditional dinner will start with a selection of meze (appetizers) served before the main meal. Ironically, most meze dishes are large enough to comprise an entire meal by themselves.
A typical meze menu includes fresh salad greens in thick yoghurt sauce with garlic, plates of vegetable dishes cooked in olive oil, fried crispy savoury pastry, tomato and cucumber salad and white bean puree. Or several plates of different types of chopped salad, roasted capsicums in olive oil, houmous (chickpea and sesame puree), boulgur and red lentil balls, marinated stuffed eggplant (aubergine), peppers stuffed with spices and nuts, and the list goes on.
The main course that follows such a meze spread will be fish or grilled meat. Kebabs and köfte (skewered meat and meatballs) are not the only dishes you will find in restaurants. Güveç is a delicious lamb and vegetable stew and a must is the local speciality of testi kebab - a stew cooked in an earthenware pot sealed with bread.
One of the best things about eating in Turkey is the bread - freshly-baked and crusty, still warm from the wood-fired ovens.
By far, the most common dessert after a meal is locally produced fresh seasonal fruit that acquire their unique taste from an abundance of sun and traditional ways of cultivation and transportation.
Spring will start with strawberries, followed by green plums and apricots. Summer is marked by peaches, watermelons and melons; then, all kinds of grapes ripen in late summer, followed by green and purple figs, plums, apples, pears and quince. Oranges, mandarin oranges, and bananas are among the winter fruits. You can taste some of these on the open markets: Ürgüp's cheerful market takes place every Saturday morning.
Turkish coffee comes thick and dark in a small cup and may be served without sugar, with a little sugar or with a lot of sugar. However you take it, it is truly delicious.
Cappadocia is renowned for its wines which regularly win awards at international wine competitions.
You should try at least once the national alcoholic beverage - rakı(clear grape spirits flavoured with anise and diluted with water).
And of course Turkish tea - on your trips and wandering round Ürgüp you will often be invited to drink a glass of tea in a little tulip glass - take up the invitation offered with sincerity.
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