Due to its location, Turkey has been a home for the coexistence of different cultures throughout history, Turkish culture is a mixing pot of Anatolian and other cultures. The cultural structure of Turkey hosts a large diversity of people as a meeting point of East and West. In this regard, regions’ customs and traditions vary according to geographical location and structure.
It is part of Turkish culture for locals to be interested and curious towards foreigners. People do not hesitate to communicate with new people and can be intimate with them in a short time. As the new resident of your city, university or home, there will be people who want to meet and talk to you.
Compared to many other communities, you will notice that verbal communication in Turkey is quite “noisy”. When you see someone who starts to comment or laugh suddenly, don’t be bothered. This is not an argument or a conflict, but an indication that there is a party that is excited in the conversation. Also, when you see those who are chatting or are kidding with each other may contact them physically, don’t find it strange – physical contact is often part of the interaction.
Hospitality is one of the most significant traits of Turkish culture because guests are considered to be “gifts from God”. The people of Anatolia think their hospitality relieves life’s challenges, improves relations and makes people feel secure. In addition, they get great pleasure from meeting foreign guests, learning about different cultures and hosting strangers as their guests. Hospitality is quite important in Islam. Muslims do not refuse guests. They entertain and treat them with great respect and honour.
Folk Dances and Music
Turkey is one of the richest and most diverse countries in terms of folk dances. There are more than 3,000 types of folk dances. Dances such as halay, horon, zeybek and çiftetelli are performed nationwide. However, specific folk dances are relatively more common in certain areas. Every region has its dances composed of unique moves and melodies. They are an essential part of all celebrations.
Like folk dances, music genres also show great diversity in Turkey. The most popular genres are Turkish folk music, classical Turkish music, pop and arabesque. Folk dances and music are living pieces of Turkey’s history.
Cuisine and Food Culture
Turkish food is one of the world’s most distinctive and diverse cuisines. It has a great assortment of dishes and cooking techniques. The food culture is influenced by the variety of products and cultures in Turkey. As a Mediterranean country and descendant of two major empires -Seljuk and Ottoman, Turkey has been affected by their culinary culture.
Turkish cuisine consists of grain, meat, and vegetable dishes cooked with or without meat, olive oil dishes, stuffed vegetables, pastry, rice, drinks and desserts.
It also contains original types of food such as grape molasses, yoghurt, tarhana, bulgur, turnip, and pickles. One of Turkish cuisine’s fundamental ingredients is meat, usually consumed as kebab.
Kebab is cooked directly on fire or in a clay pot without water. There are dozens of kebab types, including Adana kebab, kebab with eggplant puree, cartlak kebab, kebab skewers and pot kebab.
Fish and chicken are usually cooked over charcoal or roasted.
Pastry also has an essential place in Turkish cuisine. Hundreds of pastry and flour-based foods exist, including pasta, pastry with meat, couscous, gözleme, and patty.
Another remarkable characteristic of Turkish cuisine is vegetables cooked with or without meat. There are hundreds of vegetable dishes for each season, such as green beans, eggplant dishes, oturtma, mousaka, olive oil dishes, stuffed vegetables and stuffed vine leaves which appeal to the taste buds of everyone.
Tarhana, lentil, tomato and vegetable soups are the best-known examples of soups on offer.
Pilaf is an indispensable element of Turkish cuisine, made with white rice or bulgur (cracked wheat). Pilaf can be plain or cooked with tomato, anchovy, meat, mushrooms, etc.
Hoşaf and desserts have a unique place in Turkish cuisine. Hoşaf is a sweetened juice made of dried fruits, while compote is from fresh fruits. Desserts consist of various ingredients-the most popular being milk, flour and sugar. Halva, rice pudding (sütlaç), baklava and kadaif are the most popular desserts.
Turkish cuisine differs among different parts of the country.
Aegean Region is famous for olive oil-based vegetable dishes. East and Southeast Anatolian Regions are famous for kebabs, Marmara Region is renowned for meatball and liver dishes, and Central Anatolia Region is famous for flatbread with meat (etli ekmek), pide and rice with meat such as “Ankara Tava”.
The most popular starter is soup. Then comes the main dish with vegetables or meat, accompanied by pilaf, hoşaf and compote. The meal ends with dessert. It is a widespread practice to drink Turkish coffee or tea after a meal. Tea or coffee offered after the meal in restaurants are usually complimentary and not charged.
“Food is the only universal thing that can bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people eat together.”