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Mezze and snacks

Mezze and snacks

Emmanuelle Jary - 2010-07-02

At the beginning of a meal the Turks are very fond of mezze – an assortment of small appetizers of different sizes that are very often delicious and which vary according to the season and region.

In the summertime, on the west coast, the flavour of the month is vegetables and fish.  Next to the beaches you often find little stalls offering tea, coffee and puff pastry delicacies with cheese or herbs. On the beach at Okaliptus the restaurants serve salads made of wild herbs and grilled aubergines with tomato and garlic sauce (chakchoura). There are also cooked aubergines with yoghurt, tomato, garlic and black pepper (kopoglou). Salicornia Cress is often used in salads and can be cooked with garlic. The restaurant ‘Felner’, near Bodrum serves the finest assortment of mezze, including skewers of grilled calamari, octopus salad and aubergine caviar. On the shores of Bafa Lake at ‘Turgut’ you can eat pastries (gözleme) with accompaniments of olives, feta cheese and tea served in small, delicate glasses (ince belli). At Foça, ‘Fokai Balik’ restaurant serves prawns in butter and chilli (gureç), broad bean puree with olive oil, skewers of calamari accompanied by a bread sauce with yoghurt, dill and garlic.
 But whether hot or cold the mezze are just for starters.  Meals are then continued with meat or grilled fish dishes.
 
This tradition of snacking also takes place at other times of the day. Turkish people love to snack: dry fruits, fresh pistachios which strangely have the aroma of mangoes, grapes, nuts, little sugared doughnuts called ‘goats feet’ (keçi bacagi), candied fruit (oranges, mandarins, morello cherries...) – the west coast is a real fruit paradise with an abundance of orchards.   
Of course, during these moments of snacking the point is not so much to eat as to share. Sweet and savoury dishes are combined with ease as early in the day as breakfast when cheeses (feta and cokelek, a cheese made from dried curds) are on offer as are olives and tomatoes in the summertime.
 
As far as beverages are concerned tea and coffee are taken daily.  Once again it is all about sharing a moment together rather than quenching your thirst, which is evident judging by the size of the glasses. Traditional Turkish coffee is prepared over live embers in copper saucepans. The powder floats on the water then sinks to the bottom. When you have finished your coffee and a little treat such as the rose flavoured Turkish delights, you then turn your cup upside down and wait for the coffee dregs to settle as they cool down. Women then read them, telling fortunes promising happy days to come.
 
PRACTICAL INFORMATION
 
Balik Fener Restaurant
Kemer Mevkii Akyarlar, Turgutreis, Bodrum. Tel: 0 252 393 63 93.
Approximately £45 per person.  
 
Turgut
Bafa Gölü, Milas. Tel: 0536 511 62 45.
A few pounds.
 
Fokai
121 sokak n°8 E, Foça. Tel: : 0 232 812 21 86.
Approximately £35 per person.  

At the beginning of a meal the Turks are very fond of mezze – an assortment of small appetizers of different sizes that are very often delicious and which vary according to the season and region.

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