Lesson from Turkish Meze
Istanbul, in my humble opinion, is a city of push and pull. The theme of several opposing sides co-existing in one city is evidenced everywhere through politics, religion and even where the city is situated geographically. But since this is a food blog, we shall focus on the food.
As I ate my way through the city, I found that Turkish cuisine is where Asian, Mediterranean, European and even Middle Eastern flavors learn to live together harmoniously in a dish...a beautiful love child of everyone from around the world.
Every meal I had in Istanbul was great. But the most memorable one has to be on the first night when we got ourselves invited to a BBQ party. It's not because the meal was the tastiest, but it's because of the hospitality of a new stranger-turned-friend who graciously cooked for us.
Our new friend told us while downing Raki "I put nothing on this fish except for olive oil. Fish should taste like fish. It has and should already come with flavours."
I came across a similar soundbite later when I read Turkish Meze by Chef Sevtap Yuce. She described her approach - "I never put salt and pepper on my customer's tables with my meze. I believe food brought to the table should have all the love and seasoning in it already." I dig it.
Meze in the old days, as I learnt from her book, was only reserved for men. They would gather at the table while the women cooked for them. Today, I am happy to see Meze is being shared by everyone regardless of sex, age, or nationality.
It seems that Turkish food has come a long way, and so have we.