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including the famous Turkish Delight (originally
made from dates, honey, roses and jasmine bound by Arabic gum and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).
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.
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.
Monday-Saturday 0900-1300 and 1400-2000 (closed Sunday).
Istanbul covered market: Monday-Saturday
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).
A service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills.