The Turkish people love to eat! My husband and I just spent 8 days visiting this interesting country and noticed that very few individuals were obese (or even overweight). There is fast food in the cities but it tends to be buffets with lots of veggies, cheese, lamb and chicken. Some form of yogurt is often a side dish. Instead of soft drinks (which were rare to see), a favorite beverage is made of yogurt, water and salt and is sometimes served in a bowl with a ladle used as a spoon (definitely an acquired taste) and fruit juices which are plentiful. Street vendors offer fresh squeezed pomegranate or orange juice. McDonald’s and Burger King’s are rare and according to our hosts, quite expensive. They do love their sweets with lots of pastry shops offering nut and fruit based desserts and the famous Turkish delight, a gummy bear-textured candy filled with things like pistachios, coconut and cherries. I cannot figure out why those sweets don’t pile on the pounds!
When you visit someone’s home or office, you are offered Turkish coffee or tea often with fruit, nuts, or pastry. And speaking of tea, everywhere we went, we were given small glasses of tea. We met some members of Parliament and tea was offered. We went to a silk scarf shop and we were given tea while we shopped. At the famous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, there were men walking around with trays filled with glasses of tea, luring you into their shops to look at rugs! It’s a traditional way of life for the Turkish people that has only been modernized by the additional choice of herbal options. Because it is primarily a muslim country, many people do not drink alcohol, so that may be a factor in their low obesity rates. Turkey does have a growing wine industry and it will be interesting to follow its progress and impact on the country’s cuisine.
Now that I’m back in the USA, I am going to try to eat more like the Turks (which is quite Mediterranean) and see if it makes a difference!