When I contacted the Embassy of Turkey to interview them, I never expected the response I received. Mrs. Gorkem Karakus, the Director of Culture and Tourism invited me for an in-person interview in their Embassy so we could meet. My colleague and I arrived on a Friday afternoon not knowing what to anticipate. I was blown away by their hospitality. To them, we were guests and this was not out of the ordinary. Gorkem and her colleague Elif served us Turkish tea and chocolate candies. “Bon a petit,” she said. We got to know each other and we learned about their beautiful country, cultural and food. Who knew there were so many Turkish restaurants in D.C.?
I mentioned they served us Turkish tea. What is Turkish tea?
It’s a black tea made in a special pot, typically prepared using two stacked kettles, Caydanlik. There’s a smaller kettle on the top with tea leaves and the bottom has water. Once it boils, separate the kettles and pour water into the top one to make a delicious tea.
What’s typical Turkish food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
At breakfast, you can enjoy a lighter meal with a diverse plate. A typical breakfast includes egg, olives (zeytin), black oil and green oil, cheese (goat or feta), tomato, cucumber, jam and/or honey, Simit bread (circular bread rings). Turkish soup, similar to a lentil is served at lunch. We learned that yogurt is actually Turkish and their soup is served with a dollop of yogurt. The traditional dish is Manti, a dumpling stuffed with mints (ground beef), yogurt, tomato sauce and melted butter. On the Turkey peninsula, there are three seas - Black Sea, Aegean Sea, and Mediterranean Sea. You can imagine that fish is a part of their diet. It’s typically prepared with a lot of olive oil and then grilling or baking. Stuffed grape leaves (Sarma) with olive oil, rice and herbs, Stuffed eggplant with rice and meat in some regions, and stuffed peppers.
Where is the best Turkish food in D.C.?
There are a lot of Turkish restaurants in the D.C. area. Here are the recommended Turkish restaurants:
If you visit during October. Turkey celebrates their national day on October 29th. They have street festivals and national ceremonies in Turkey. At the Embassy of Turkey in Washington, D.C., they have a celebration with a special dinner hosted by the Ambassador.
I couldn’t get over the beauty of Turkey. From Cappadocia, to blue lagoon pools and their beaches, the country looks like a beautiful place to visit. If they’re as hospitable as Mrs. Karakus, it’s a trip well worth taking. If you’re stateside in Washington, D.C., make sure you walk by the Embassy of Turkey to admire a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s First President and take advantage of all the delicious Turkish food.