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Last updated : Nov 2009
Turkey Social Profile
Turkey Culture and Social Profile - TravelPuppy.com
Food & Drink

Turkish food combines culinary traditions of a rural people originating from Central Asia and the influences of the Mediterranean regions. Lamb is a basic meat included on all menus, often as shish kebab (pieces of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled) or doner kebab (pieces of lamb packed tightly round a revolving spit). Fish and shellfish are very fresh and barbunya (red mullet) and kiliç baligi (swordfish) are delicious. Dolma (vine leaves stuffed with nuts and currants) and karniyarik (aubergine stuffed with minced meat) are other popular dishes. Guests are usually able to go into a kitchen and choose from the pots if they do not understand the names of the dishes.

There are also a wide selection of Turkish sweets and pastries including the famous Turkish Delight (originally made from dates, honey, roses and jasmine bound by Arabic gum and designed to sweeten the breath after coffee). Table service is common.

Ayran (a refreshing yoghurt drink), tea, and strong black Turkish coffee are commonly available. Turkey is a secular state and alcohol is permitted, although during Ramadan it is considered courteous for the visitor to avoid drinking alcohol. Turkish beer, red and white wines are reasonable. The national drink is raki (anisette), known as 'lion's milk', which clouds when water is added. Drinking raki is a custom and is traditionally accompanied by a variety of meze (hors d'oeuvres).

Nightlife

There are nightclubs in nearly all main centres, either Western or Oriental, with music and dancing. There are theatres with concerts in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul and most towns have cinemas. Turkish baths (hamam) are popular.

Shopping

Istanbul's Kapali Carsi Bazaar has jewellery, carpets and antiques for sale. Turkish handicrafts include a rich variety of textiles and embroideries, articles of copper, onyx and tile, inlaid articles, mother-of-pearl, leather and suede products, jewellery and, above all, kilims and carpets.

Shopping hours: Monday-Saturday 0900-1300 and 1400-2000 (closed Sunday).

Istanbul covered market: Monday-Saturday 0800-1900.

Social Conventions

Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Hospitality is vital and visitors should respect Islamic customs. Informal wear is acceptable, but beachwear should be restricted to the beach or poolside. Smoking is widely acceptable but prohibited in cinemas, theatres, city buses and dolmuses (collective taxis).

Tipping

A service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills.