As the first meal of the day, breakfast is also referred as the most important meal of the day by nutritional experts. Some people like to have cereal while some prefer toast and eggs, and some even skip this meal and have coffee instead… But for us, Turks breakfast is a tradition and a reason for family gathering. And the best way to start a day!
Breakfast meals can vary in different cultures around the world but it sure is a different experience in Turkey. I have a modern Turkish family and we all have different lives at different homes. But we still like to get together for Sunday breakfasts as a tradition and spend some quality time together over our traditional Turkish breakfast table. I don’t think any nutritionist would approve our breakfast because the menu is so rich and we always feel so full after eating but the pleasure is worth it!
In Turkish, breakfast is called “kahvaltı”. It’s originated from two words as “kahve altı” which literally means “under coffee” or “before coffee”. It’s because traditional Turkish coffee is usually drunk after breakfast or in the afternoon. I usually get a call from mom on Sundays saying; “ Wake up! It’s ‘kahvaltı’ time! ” and get over to her house as soon as I can. Get ready to feel an appetite for this breakfast because I’m going to tell you all about it now.
Traditionally black tea is served at kahvaltı but if you are a coffee person like me, it’s optional of course. Turks like to drink their tea in slim belly glasses and believe that black tea tastes best in these type of glasses. Generally there are; white cheese (which is like feta), kaşar cheese (a pale yellow cheese made of sheep’s milk and similar to swiss), black and green olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled eggs, sucuk (Turkish sausage seasoned with garlic and spices), pastırma (similar to prosciutto or pastrami), tereyağ (butter), honey, kaymak (cream), jam, börek (pastry), menemen (Turkish omlette made with tomatoe, pepper and eggs), simit (Turkish sesame bagel) and warm ekmek (bread) which smells great. Bread has an extremely important place in Turkish cuisine and even though there are different types of breads, it’s mostly somun (leavened and baked loaf bread) that’s served. Jams can also be made of different fruits such as; cherry, peach, orange, strawberry, mulberry etc. Sometimes there are more variety of cheese with herbs or spice. I also like the goat cheese which is made from goat’s milk. It has more protein than the cheese made from cow milk. Some people like to serve soup during the breakfast but personally I don’t like it. My favourite kahvaltı times happen during the summer when we visit my family’s summer house by the sea. Waking up to the nature, my mother prepares a mixed plate of fresh greenery including parsley, lettuce, arugula and purslane. They are all from our garden and it’s an extra pleasure to have this special breakfast out doors in the nature. We have long conversations with laughter while we enjoy our rich menu of kahvaltı.
If you ever get a chance to try the traditional Turkish breakfast, you will know what I’m talking about…