• Kitchen Servants and Table Traditions in the Ottoman Palace
  • Kitchen Servants and Table Traditions in the Ottoman Palace
  • Kitchen Servants and Table Traditions in the Ottoman Palace
  • Kitchen Servants and Table Traditions in the Ottoman Palace
  • Kitchen Servants and Table Traditions in the Ottoman Palace
  • Kitchen Servants and Table Traditions in the Ottoman Palace

This group would record the accounting of the kitchen on a daily basis. These records also included a list of products entering the kitchen. Thanks to this meticulous study technique, today researchers have found the opportunity to reach data about Ottoman Cuisine by looking at the 15th century..

Kitchen Servants and Table Traditions in the Ottoman Palace
In Ottoman Cuisine, there are traditional and common situations seen in every period in the kitchen features and staff. The main reason for some periodical and spatial differences are the sultans of the period and the practices that changed from palace to palace. The palace kitchen was called "Matbah-ı amire" and the person responsible for the kitchen was called "Matbah-ı Amire Emini". The kitchen has always been a dynamic and hierarchical structure. The master-apprentice relationship was seen as intense. The provision of food for the kitchen was provided by the craftsmen of the palace. These tradesmen were attached to the "Kilercibaşı" of the palace. Butcher, chicken, yoghurt, ice maker, snowmaker, candle maker, simit maker, tin maker can be given as examples of these tradesmen.39 
The number of employees in the Matbah-ı Amire mandate was approximately one hundred. This group would record the accounting of the kitchen on a daily basis. These records also included a list of products entering the kitchen. Thanks to this meticulous study technique, today researchers have found the opportunity to reach data about Ottoman Cuisine by looking at the 15th century notebooks. In these records, besides the objects bought such as vegetables, fruits, meat, utensils, it was also written what they were bought for. Again, this situation provides an advantage for the researcher to provide fiction and make inferences.40
According to the records, the foods that enter the kitchen the most are as follows; yoghurt, milk, cheese, egg, onion, garlic, sumac, mint, parsley, chard, lettuce, bulgur, olive oil, clarified butter (milk oil/butter), cumin, sesame, grapes, fish, peach, pear, fig, cucumber, tripe, honey, flour, cinnamon, thyme, coconut, lentils, mustard, turmeric, caviar, lamb, rose water, black cumin, walnuts, chicken, trotter. Compared to today, we see that the indispensable foodstuffs of homes such as tomato paste, tomatoes and potatoes have not yet taken place. We'll cover this kitchen transformation later.
In the kitchens called “Matbah-ı Has” or “Kuşhane Matbahı”, meals for the sultan were cooked. The officers to work in this department were chosen with particular care. Because both safety and dexterity had to be at the forefront. This section, which directly affects the sultan, is the most important part of the palace kitchen. The name of the kitchen has changed in recent years and has been named “Matbah-ı Hümayun”.
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a significant increase in the number of palace kitchen staff. In Ahmet Muhtar Yağtaş's book titled “Hacıbeyzade Aşevi, Ameli Nazari Sofracılık”, the number of staff is stated to be around 60 at the end of the 16th century, while the number of servants is around 200. After the 17th century, this number increased to 1370 people. During this time, the name of the kitchen chef was changed to "Chief Chef". Officers are specifically named according to the work they do. For example, pastry shop, dessert shop, rice cooker can be shown. 
There were many journeymen in the hands of these officials, and apprentices under the journeymen. The principle of hierarchy in the Ottoman Palace Cuisine was preserved unchanged. This application also revealed a wide working network.41
Table traditions and the basics of the state's eating protocol Sultan II. It was laid during the reign of Mehmed. The Fatih Code contains articles containing this protocol. This situation shows that the Ottoman Empire gave an example of order and organization even at the dinner table. After the Sultan, the most authoritative person was the Vizier-i Azam. He used to sit close to the sultan at dinner. From time to time, some ambassadors were seated close to the sultan's table in line with their relations with the country they were affiliated with. In such cases, usually all members of the Divan-ı Hümayun were invited and diplomatic negotiations were held.42
Some sultans preferred to eat alone instead of eating together. This situation also created a perception of privacy in the Ottoman tableware tradition. The leading name that created this privacy was again II. It was Mehmed. II. The important reason for Mehmed's new procedures is the reputation and status gained after the Conquest of Istanbul. For this reason, most of the change II. It happened with Mehmed. In addition, the hierarchy organized from head to toe by the law is also effective. This order, that is, the practices designed as a unique Turkish-Islamic synthesis continued until the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, when the Ottoman Empire was in direct contact and interaction with the West and could no longer feel its power. II. The innovation movement initiated by Mahmud showed itself at the table.
According to the narrative of the 17th century Ottoman boy Bobovi, the sultan's time to eat was as follows: “The sultan ate alone in the haso and in the garden, for meals boiled, baked or spiced meat in the style of kebab, the most famous of which was baklava, but milk dessert, pudding and rice pudding. is found. Water was not drunk during the meal, but compote was drunk in a large bowl after the meal. During the meal, dumb and dwarfs amuse the sultan. All solid meals are served in selaan containers. Metal containers are preferred for drinks. Eat with hands instead of forks and wash hands with soap after meals. Sultans do not eat from gold and silver vessels, as it is against the law. After the meal, coffee is drunk and incense is made from fragrant amber and oud wood.”43
Sultan II. Mahmud had European open buffet tables set up in some sultan's weddings and in cases where foreign guests were present. In addition, the use of cutlery for the Ottoman II. It is dated to the Mahmud Period. According to the records, Hüsrev Pasha gave the cutlery set to the sultan. One of the important points to be mentioned is that the traditional table setting was continued when the palace was not opened and there were no events such as invitations and meetings. These tables did not break with Islamic traditions and were established as harems and selamlık. Fork and knife have been added for convenience. Traditional table materials such as high table and cedar continued to be used.44
While focusing on the table traditions, it is necessary to mention the special meals given in the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of these are the wedding and circumcision meals. Afterwards, it continues in the form of meals given to state dignitaries, foreigners and the public. The purpose and types of the food served may differ according to the table owner and guests. In this context, examining the main tables will be more explanatory in terms of the course of the study.
The first of the important community meals is circumcision weddings. The name given to circumcision weddings in the sources is referred to as "Sur-ı Hümayun". It covers from the common people to the highest level. Due to the large audience it covers, the amount of money and material spent in the records draws attention. The main ingredients used in Sur-ı Hümayun dishes are butter, saffron and sugar. These materials show us that halva and zerde type sweets are frequently consumed in circumcision weddings. Sugar was also used for decoration on such days. Sculpture-like structures made of sugar were very popular and the group engaged in this business was called “Nakkaşan-ı Sukker”. Ingredients used for food other than dessert; It was recorded as rice, bread, carob, cattle meat.
On the days when Ulufe was to be distributed, tables were set up collectively. These days were especially held when foreign ambassadors were present. Attention was paid to ensure that the meals served were plentiful and magnificent. During the meal, the janissaries and state officials would go to the sections reserved for them and eat separately. A sense of prestige was prioritized against the ambassadors. It was served with special dinner sets. As it can be understood, the concept held at the forefront in this dinner ceremony was magnificence. During the meal, money bags were brought and poured into wooden money boxes to show that they were not fake. In addition, exotic animals (such as giraffe, lion, leopard) that were kept in the palace garden were shown to foreign ambassadors and statesmen at these meals. Many ambassadors stated in their memoirs and reports that they were affected by this event.
The treats and meals given during the feast, iftar, and Hırka-i Saadet visits are also important practices in the Ottoman Cuisine. Topkapı Palace, which was left empty in the 19th century with the importance of the Bosphorus palaces, became a place where these services were carried out. Another important point is that Mr. Muhammad's cardigan is still preserved in Topkapi Palace. Visiting the cardigan was done on the 15th day of Ramadan. As a meal, eggs with onions and baklava were served at iftar. It was customary for the courtiers to tip the aghas who brought invitations to visit the Hırka-i Şerif. Soup was served to the Janissaries during the holidays. The janissary's running to the soup cauldron symbolized his loyalty to his state. It was also customary for the sultan to slaughter one or two of the animals brought by the sultan himself during the Feast of Sacrifice. Sacrifice meat was distributed to the palace sections.45
On the 10th day of Muharram, Ashura was made and sent to the upper level officials of the palace. On the Nevruz Feast, a food similar to mesir paste called “Nevruziye” was prepared with various spices. In the Ottoman palace, there were also special meals given by women. These were the states of birth and death, oil lamps, the sultan's family members visiting the palace harem and, although not very often, the meals given for foreign visitors coming to the harem. Financiers of these meals could be Valide Sultan, Haseki Sultan or women lords. In her memoirs, Lady Montagu praised the tables hosted by women and said that she was surprised by the variety of food.46
The Month of Ramadan has been a blessed time period in the Ottoman Empire where cuisine is at the forefront. Eating and drinking was done twice a day, as sahur and iftar, in accordance with Ramadan. The kitchen was busy during Ramadan, including Eid. The variety of foods consumed during Ramadan would increase. This increase was seen not only in the palaces, but also in the soup kitchen, lodge and public table. Before the month of Ramadan, iftar shopping was done as it is today. For pastries and desserts, phyllo, dried fruits and compotes were bought in abundance, keeping in mind what one could crave. Again, before Ramadan, all copper vessels were tinned for preparation.47
In the period when the Ottoman Empire opened its doors to the West, changes were also seen in the understanding of table and cuisine. Especially in the palace kitchen practices, the Sultan Abdülmecid Period is the period in which the change is obvious. Western ambassadors and statesmen invited to the palace began to be hosted according to European style. The new palaces, which were built with the inspiration of the West instead of the Topkapı Palace, gained a new form in the Ottoman invitations in terms of quality and quantity. Yıldız and Dolmabahçe Palaces are important in this period. After Sultan Abdülmecid, the use of tables and chairs increased as well.48
The Europeanization event gained speed with the Constitutional Monarchy. Especially II. Foreign names are quite common in the dishes and cooks served after Abdülhamid. In addition, the cook's clothing has also changed. The most important event is now it is quite common to eat at the table. 
In Dolmabahçe and Yıldız Palace, Mecidiye Mansion, there are dining tables in different sizes. Service forms have also been recreated. Food service started to be done by "Hademe-i Hümayun" officials who were trained in Western style.
II. Service personnel of Yıldız and Dolmabahçe Palaces during the reigns of Abdülhamid and Sultan Mehmed Reşad were highly skilled. These personnel have often received the praise of foreign statesmen. We can give as an example the photographs taken in the Şale Mansion as the visual materials of the Western style kitchen understanding. These photographs are interesting materials in terms of grasping the success and adaptation in the transition to the Western style.49
Two welding styles are used in the certification of the tools and equipment used in the Ottoman Cuisine. The first of these; archival documents and foreign travel books, the second; These are the original tools and equipment that served the dynasty until the 19th century, protected in the Topkapı Palace and survived until today. In addition, recipe and record books, etc. It gives information about the materials with notes.
We also learn from the palace archive sources which tools and equipment the Ottomans used for which food. We know that the kitchen utensils exhibited in Topkapı Palace today are the remains after the destruction caused by the great fire. Despite this, it is fair to say that they are in considerable quantities. Ottoman dishes should be evaluated with their types and table customs. Because different tools and equipment are used in accordance with the ceremony. For example, the tradition of sitting on the floor and eating has made the use of large trays widespread. The tradition of eating from one plate brought with it the use of large bowls and plates. 
In addition, according to the type of food (liquid foods such as compote, soup, sherbet), the size and volume of these bowls and plates vary according to the method. The tradition of drinking coffee after the meal has brought tools such as cup sets and coffee urns to the fore. The censers for fragrances and essences vary.50
After the meal, other tools used at the table; Basins and pitchers for washing hands before and after meals, napkins for drying, macramas to use instead of napkins. As mentioned above, in the examination of kitchen tools and utensils, attention should be paid to the period, ceremony and even the reigning sultan. Ottoman Cuisine should be evaluated under these conditions.
The types of containers frequently mentioned in archive documents (expense and gift books) are as follows; plate, bowl, Üsküre, glass, badye, kune, water ewer, censer, gulabdan, yekbürdi, flask, jug, cup and saucer, zemzemiye, fruit and dessert plate, churn, soup bowl, pan, dinnerware (spoon-fork ), jars, salt shakers, sherbet and compote bowls. In addition to these, special sets such as Chinese porcelain sets and Iznik tiles are also available. There are also metal kitchen utensils brought from Iznik and metal utensils manufactured in Europe. In the Ottoman Empire, these kitchen utensils were mostly used in both the palace and the public. Because although there is a difference in terms of product and variety in the eating and drinking culture, there is no obvious difference in the traditional table culture.
The usage areas of these tools mentioned in the Ottoman State Archives were also recorded. II. It is mentioned that in the circumcision ceremony organized by the sultan for his princes during the reign of Mehmed II, sherbet was served with fağfuri Üsküleri. IV. It is seen in the History of Tursun Bey that Mehmed had 2 thousand copper plates sent from Istanbul to Edirne due to the circumcision of his princes. In the records of the Divan-ı Hümayun dated 1568, it was written that silver trays were used in the service when foreign ambassadors came. In the list of items used in the Topkapı Palace Archives, silver basin and pitcher, compote bowl, soup bowl, unspecified dinner plates, candlestick, censer, coffee sets, rosewood, copper bowls, yoghurt and pickle bowl, water towel, tray and fire pot (pot, casserole) ) are listed.51
The most important visual sources about the use of these materials mentioned in archival documents are surnames, two manuscripts with miniatures found in the Topkapı Palace Library. The first of these manuscripts was Sultan III. It is about the circumcision of Murad's prince Mehmed. According to the records, the circumcision ceremony lasted 52 days and 52 nights. A large number of ceramic and metal vessels stand out in this miniature. Thessaloniki also mentions the large hearths and ovens set up in the horse square for this miniature. He also mentions that there are 1500 pieces of large cauldrons and trays in the established kitchens. Thessaloniki also states that Chinese and Iznik porcelains in white, green, olive, taupe and light blue colors are used, and dishes are ordered from the bazaar in case they are not enough.
The second surname is III. It is about the circumcision of Ahmed's princes. This surname is a miniature manuscript called "Surname-i Vehbi". According to the records, the circumcision ceremony lasted for 15 days and 15 nights. There are 137 miniatures belonging to Levnî in this manuscript. The table/sine scheme is frequently repeated in miniatures. Similarly, porcelains in white and blue colors were embroidered. However, it is not clear whether the porcelain in miniature is Chinese or Iznik work. Censer, spoon, fork and coffee sets, which are found as sets decorated with jewels, are interesting details. In case of a possible need for this circumcision wedding, equipment such as a tray, oil lamp, oil bowl and food materials such as duck, turkey, chicken, rooster were brought from the suppliers.
In both surnames, the scene of "The Plunder of the Bowl" is depicted. The plundering of dishes is one of the traditions in the Ottoman table and banquet culture where ostentatiousness is at the forefront. This expression is the event of giving food to the public and the janissaries at weddings. It is done in the form of plundering the food brought to the public. The type of pots and pans used in this meal distribution are usually made of earth. It has also been observed that copper material is used in miniatures from time to time.52
It is necessary to make a separate place for Chinese porcelain, which is one of the important parts of Ottoman kitchenware. They are the materials that are frequently preferred in palace tables. The palace has a porcelain set of 10,358 pieces of Chinese origin. This number shows the interest of the sultans. Before Topkapi Palace, Chinese porcelain can be seen in Edirne Palace as well. It is known that it spread to Islamic countries and then to Anatolia in the 13th century. 
It is widely used in palaces and mansions. It is written that these porcelain vessels, which were referred to as "mertebani" in the Ottoman Empire, were useful in distinguishing poison. This belief is one of the reasons for preference. Since China produces these porcelains with the aim of exporting, they have met the needs of Anatolian and Islamic lands in terms of size and usage. Most of the produced bowls and bowls have lids. Preferred colors are usually white, blue and green.
Chinese porcelain that was broken or lost its function was repaired by Ottoman masters and continued to be used. The number of porcelain treated in this way is quite high in the Topkapı Palace Collection. Metal material was used for repair works.
Evliya Çelebi mentioned 25 porcelain repair masters registered in the craftsman's guild. He mentions about 10 workshops where these masters work and how they do their work meticulously. The metalwork practiced here advanced to obtain a new product by adapting the porcelain to other uses by the masters.53
With westernization, Chinese porcelain lost its importance and replaced by porcelain tools and equipment imported from Europe. The number of pieces of European origin in the palace collection exceeds 5000. It was easy for these porcelains, which were produced with the aim of exporting similar to the Chinese porcelains, to enter the Ottoman table. The main porcelain exporting nations were France, Vienna, Germany and Russia. In the 19th century, porcelain production was made in Beykoz and Yıldız factories. However, these porcelains were used as ornaments and souvenirs instead of daily use. It is not commonly seen on the table.54
The second largest group of the palace kitchen consists of copper materials. Important copper pieces of the collection; cauldrons, forged round halva pots, pots with lids, pans in different sizes, pans, oven shovels and tongs, pitchers and basins, large trays, coffee sets, bowls and jugs, mortars and scales, ladles and colanders. The number of these materials is around 2000. In the 16th century, travelers said the following about the use of copper: “Turks eat food sitting down. They place a leather table on the floor and a copper tray on it. 2-3 cups of food come to the table. Dinnerware is copper. 
They cover their knees with a napkin. The gleaming copper pots with lids are well tinned and very clean.”
In the later period, there are nearly 400 tools and materials in the copper collection dating between the 17th and 19th centuries. These usually consist of tombak vessels. Mercury and gold gilding were generally used in their decorations. These tombak bowls, which have a golden appearance, were also used with admiration in mansions. Tombaks are used for censer and gulab, lidded bowl and pan. In addition, lids for porcelain vessels are produced in this way. Pots and pots with terracotta lids, halva casseroles, large food jars are also pieces of this collection.55
The group whose use has been limited in the palace collection is the tools and equipment made of gold and silver. The reason why its use was restricted was not by preference, but because of the Shari'a provisions. It is known that the sultan and high-level palace officials ate with these vessels. The fact that gold and silver are not permissible by the law is effective in the demand for Chinese porcelain. The document dated 1204 Hijri from the Divan-ı Hümayun is about the prohibition of the use of these vessels. Sultan II. The use of gold and silver vessels, which is thought to have started with Murad III. It is written that it was used until the period of Murad and then it was abolished. However, considering the amount in the collection and the silver trays issued to the ambassadors, it is seen that this ban was not fully implemented.56
Michel Baudier, famous for his contradictory statements with Ottoman historiography, described the use of gold and silver as follows: “The Sultan drinks a drink made with various kinds of fruit juice, lemon juice and sugar during the meal. He drinks the drink from a bowl made of porcelain or coconut, with a spoon. During Ramadan, gold pots are not used, porcelain pots are used.”. However, these statements are difficult to rely on. Because it is impossible for Baudier to see these tables or to be a guest due to his status. These are only texts written with the aim of arousing curiosity on the public.57