When you think of breakfast, you may imagine a simple meal to start your day. Mine, for example, is two toasts, a yoghurt with muesli and some cappuccino. Sometimes I have some cottage cheese. But in Turkey, breakfast is more than that. It’s a celebration of food, family, and culture. As a traveller in Turkey, I was intrigued to experience a traditional Turkish breakfast with a local family. My curiosity was finally satisfied when I reached the good part of my travel and had the opportunity to share a meal with a Turkish family in Akhisar. I will tell this story later.
The Turkish word for breakfast is “kahvaltı,” There are endless variations of what can be served, depending on the region, family traditions, and budget. A classic Turkish breakfast consists of freshly baked white bread, black and green olives, fresh cheese like feta or kashkaval, fruit preserves, honey, sweet butter, and plenty of black tea (çay) served in small, delicate Turkish tea glasses.
But when guests are invited, the selections become more elaborate. Along with the classics, hard-boiled eggs, a single egg cooked “sunny side up” in a tiny copper skillet called “sahan,” omelettes, chunks of sesame-based halvah, cut and peeled tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and homemade phyllo dough and cheese pastry called “börek” are added to the table. One of my favourites is “menemem,” a juicy, spicy version of scrambled eggs with onions, red and green peppers, and tomatoes.
In Turkey, sausage is used in place of bacon, and slices of “sucuk,” a spicy type of salami, as well as “pastırmama,” a type of cured beef covered with a thick layer of spices, are served together with eggs and are the main ingredients in omelettes. It’s not unusual to have soup for breakfast in many homes, especially in winter.
One of my most fantastic breakfast experiences was in Diyarbakır, where I enjoyed sharing a meal with friends in a place that had been a caravanserai century before. The atmosphere, the flavours, and the stories we shared made this meal unforgettable. Breakfast in Turkey is more than just a meal; it’s an experience to be savoured and shared.