It’s the birthplace of baklava, Turkish baths and (weirdly) Saint Nicholas; the namesake of America’s native bird; and the setting for Shane Delia’s latest Spice Journey. If you need more excuses to become an expat, read on.
24 Jul 2014 - 3:05 PM  UPDATED 5 Dec 2017 - 10:24 AM

1. You can conquer the king (prawn)

When Julius Caesar overthrew the Turkish kingdom of Pontus, he said, “Veni, vidi, vici” (translation: “I came, I saw, I conquered”). To feel equally triumphant, we suggest you cook, and swiftly devour, Somer Sivrioglu's shredded pastry-wrapped king prawns.

2. Hospitality extends to the home

In Turkey, when a stranger shows up at your door, they’re considered God’s guest for at least three days. This generosity extends to food, of course, so fingers crossed Sevtap Yuce’s meat-stuffed eggplant is on the menu.

3. You’ll be in hazelnut heaven

Turkey is the world’s largest hazelnut producer so it’s no wonder the regions around Ordu are brimming with hazel trees. Inspired by his Spice Journey sojourn to the nutty centre, Shane Delia created this: peach curd and hazelnut tart.

4. It’s the birthplace of pretty much everyone and everything

Aesop the storyteller, the bible’s Abraham, father of history (that’s Herodotus, everybody) and Saint Nicholas were ALL born in Turkey. You know what else was? Baklava. Try Somer Sivrioglu’s pistachio-laden version.

Baklava on the brain!

5. Kebabs receive a better (w)rap

Dry meat and dreary tomatoes don’t make the cut in Turkey. Hailing from Gazientep, traditional charcoal-grilled kebabs combine meltingly sweet lamb with pistachio nuts, smoked eggplant and a side of yoghurt sauce. Here’s the recipe.

6. Gözleme isn’t limited to weekend markets

Crisp pastry, gooey fetta, good-for-you greens, and a lively lashing of lemon – jeez gözleme, is there anything awesome you don’t offer? Enjoy the street eat in Turkey, or make this version from Fired Up Vegetarian at home.

Sonsa seriously knows how to serve up gozleme.

7. Turks deserve a ‘thank you’ for giving us coffee

Like many exotic ingredients, coffee was introduced to Europe via the merchants of Istanbul. We’re grateful for the caffeinated gold, and these chocolate, cardamom and coffee pots created by Greg Malouf.

8. Istanbul is the only city in two continents

Popular with both Asian and European tastebuds, mussels are always on Istanbul menus. Eat them fried on a stick, stuffed with rice, or glammed Shane Delia-style a la midye dolma, taramasalata, preserved lemon.

9. There’s no finer place for Turkish delight on a moonlit night

This reason sprung from the catchy – yet impressively educational – song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and a peek at Feast magazine’s sweet rosewater-infused treats.

10. Turkish duck trumps turkey

North America’s native bird shouldn’t be named after Turkey but, due to the trade route and some mistaken explorers, it is. Celebrate the avian’s smaller sister, with this recipe for roast duck salad from Turkish Meze.

Roast duck salad (ördek salatasi)

11. It’s the best place to eat your last meal

Legend says the final meal served on Noah’s ark was a Turkish sweet and sour pudding. We think Shane’s rosewater sütlaç, pistachio crumble is a far holier option.

12. Shane will turn you into a bona fide local

The final step to becoming a true Turkophile? Watch Shane Delia's Spice Journey: Turkey, starting Thursday 31 July at 7.30pm (AEST) on SBS ONE. Embarking on a nation-wide food adventure, Shane discovers ancient food traditions in Fethiye, seafood delights along the Bodrum Peninsula, and vibrant street snacks in bustling Istanbul.


For more reasons to relocate to Turkey, check out our Turkish recipe collection here.