Preferring the extra thirty minutes of sleep, I normally give little attention to breakfast (Although I’d make an exception for the occasional breakfast in New York, because who doesn’t like a mimosa on Sunday morning?) Yet soon after coming to Turkey, breakfast had become my very favorite part of the day.
Five reasons why I love having breakfast in Turkey
1. The food
A traditional Turkish breakfast plate typically consists of cheese, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, some honey and marmalade. And of course, lots and lots of bread. And now that Turks are growing increasingly fond of whole wheat or rye bread, Turkish breakfast is not only delicious but pretty nutritious as well.
2. The Variety
Turkish breakfast knows as much variety as there are different folk dances in the country. Every region has its own specialty, so travel to Gemlik to try olives, to Çanakkale for the sweetest tomatoes, or to the villages surrounding Trabzon for deli balı – literally mad honey. There’s many different kinds of cheese and bread, like the peynir (white cheese) from Ezine or the gruyère-like kaşar (yellow cheese) in Kars, the corn bread along the Black Sea or the pistachio-stuffed katmer in Gaziantep. My personal favorite is breakfast from Van. Probably more accurately called a Kurdish rather than Turkish breakfast, it comes with the region’s typical cheese stuffed with wild herbs from the nearby mountains, cacık, and the very best kaymak you’ll ever taste.
3. Going out for breakfast, not beer
Admittedly, I was a little confused when a friend of a friend suggested to go out for “tea, beer, raki” or he could “prepare me breakfast” at his home for our very first meeting. Back home, inviting someone over for breakfast is almost like another bad pick-up line. In Turkey, meeting friends – or friends in the making – for breakfast is totally acceptable. And you can always stick around long enough to have the also accepted early afternoon beer.
4. Doing breakfast
Turks don’t like to rush through breakfast. Sure, with the amount of food and in good company, it’s easy to spend at least an hour having breakfast. Like the rest of the Mediterranean, food is not about consuming, but experiencing. Breakfast is the perfect time to catch up with friends, discuss the hypocrisy of the EU concerning Turkey’s entry or the possible outcomes of this summer’s demonstrations, or simply rate the different kind of cheeses you’ve tried in Turkey.
If all that doesn’t win you over to get out of bed in the morning, the plentiful çay will. While Turkey is famous for its coffee, it’s really tea that Turks consume day in, day out, and day-long. Served in the typical tulip-shaped glasses, Turkish breakfast is incomplete without at least three glasses of çay.
Waking up has never been easier.