• Istanbul Culinary Culture
  • Istanbul Culinary Culture
  • Istanbul Culinary Culture
  • Istanbul Culinary Culture
  • Istanbul Culinary Culture
  • Istanbul Culinary Culture
  • Istanbul Culinary Culture

In the cuisine of Istanbul, especially in the cuisine of the Ottoman palace , ingredients such as Egyptian rice, Kefe oil, Wallachian salt, Athenian honey, Damascus pistachio, Rumeli walnut, Amasya Okra were used from different provinces of the empire , and this superior quality..

Istanbul Culinary Culture in the Last Period of the Empire...
"Ozge Samanci"
The place and position of Istanbul culinary culture in the Ottoman Empire is privileged. Istanbul cuisine represents the central cuisine, because it is the cuisine of the Ottoman capital. The city, which hosted the Ottoman state from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 20th century, created its own culinary culture by interacting with different dynamics. In these dynamics, the food demand, consumption and production of the palace, as well as the cultural forms created by the food, played a decisive role. 
Since Istanbul was the capital of the empire and hosted the palace, it became a kitchen where food and food products from the distant provinces of the empire were also used, in addition to the products provided by its own geography. 
In the cuisine of Istanbul, especially in the cuisine of the Ottoman palace , ingredients such as Egyptian rice, Kefe oil, Wallachian salt, Athenian honey, Damascus pistachio, Rumeli walnut, Amasya Okra were used from different provinces of the empire , and this superior quality of the products gave flavor to the dishes. The privilege of being the capital of Istanbul made it one of the most important commercial centers of the empire, and therefore, a rich food variety and continuity flowed into the city. 
In the last period of the empire, Istanbul was a center where rich food diversity continued, and at the same time, new and processed food products imported as a result of increasing trade relations with Europe since the middle of the 19th century enriched the culinary repertoire.  
The Ottoman palace and its surroundings interpreted the dishes in the public kitchen differently and more diversely as an indication of their privilege. For example, sugary foods that ordinary people consume only on special occasions have been frequently consumed in palace and mansion kitchens. In palace and mansion kitchens, a type of food diversified with a change in material or a change in cooking technique, leading to the formation of more than one dish. 
For example, at the beginning of the 19th century, while there were two or three types of kebab (cubed kebab / minced meat kebab) that ordinary people could buy from the Istanbul bazaar, there were over ten different types of kebab (ordinary shish kebab, chicken kebab, milk kebab, bird kebab, muhzır kebab, Hacı Osman kebab, oven kebab made of minced meat, tas kebab, stuffed lamb kebab, eggplant quail kebab, kaytan kebab, yufkalı kebab).  
Another important dynamic in the formation of Istanbul cuisine is the coexistence of different religious communities in the city. The food cultures of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities living in Istanbul were in mutual exchange with each other. In fact, instead of separate community kitchens, a shared Istanbul cuisine has emerged. 
The most important differences in this cuisine are the habits related to food, which emerged under the influence of religious prohibitions and rituals related to religion. For example, the examples of lean and meat-free meals developed by the Christian community under the influence of fasting periods. But many of these differences have been mixed over time in a shared culinary culture . The old-letter Turkish cookbooks published in Istanbul in the 19th century confirm this sharing.  
The 19th century is a period in which new foodstuffs were used in Istanbul cuisine. With the discovery of America at the end of the 15th century, the use of vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, corn, beans, red and green peppers of American origin, which the old world began to recognize, started to become widespread in Istanbul cuisine only after the 1800s. As a result of the examination of the 19th century cookbooks and the accounting books that document the purchase of food materials from the   Ottoman palace kitchens , the use of new vegetables in Istanbul cuisine is observed in this period compared to previous centuries.
Another important innovation that took place in the culinary culture of Istanbul during the 19th century was the publication of cookbooks from the Tanzimat period. The old-letter Turkish cookbooks published in Istanbul between 1844-1900 reveal the colorful structure of Istanbul cuisine with countless traditional flavors bearing the traces of past centuries. The distinguished Istanbul cuisine, which began to be written down in the cookbooks published in the 19th century, reflects the tastes inherited from the past centuries, as well as the flavors that have just begun to be adopted in the 19th century, and different community cuisines. 
Melceü't-Tabbahin (Cooks' Shelter), written by Mehmed Kamil, one of the teachers of the School of Medicine, in 1844, is the first cookbook published in this period. Cooks' Refuge is a very rich and important source book for Ottoman food culture with 273 recipes it contains . This book served as a reference for other cookbooks published in the 19th century. The New Cookbook published in 1880/81, Housewife published in 1882/83, and Aşcı Başı, published in 1900, share common aspects with Cooks' Refuge. 
This book was also translated into English by Türabi Efendi in London in 1864 under the name of A Manual of Turkish Cookery. When the two works are compared, it is seen that their contents are almost the same except for a few differences. The Cooks' Refuge consists of thirteen sections: soups, kebabs, stews, pans, pastries made of dough, hot desserts made of dough, cold desserts, basmati, stuffed with olive oil and plain oil, pilafs, compotes, desserts to be eaten before coffee and soft drinks, and a note in the margin of the main text. deducted salad, tarator, pickle recipes. 
Except for the recipes in the European style, the types of dishes in the cookbooks published in the 19th century and the ingredients used in the recipes are almost the same. Accordingly, soups, meat (sheep, lamb and beef), chicken and game dishes, fish, seafood, offal, vegetable dishes with plain fatty meat, olive oil dishes, egg dishes, rice, pies, dumplings, milk and fruit desserts, Jams, compotes, sherbet and syrups, appetizers and salads are the main dishes in the Istanbul cuisine of the period. 
The inclusion of fish and seafood in the 19th century Ottoman palace cuisine is an innovation compared to previous periods. According to the memoirs and travel books describing the 19th century, fish and seafood have an important place in the Istanbul cuisine of the period and are among the appetizers that accompany the drink. Delicacies such as lakerda, caviar, fish roe and kipper were among the foods frequently consumed in the Ottoman palace in the 19th century. 
The 19th century is a period when the elite Istanbul cuisine culture interacted with the European cuisine. Since the second half of the century, the European style (alafranga), which started to be recognized gradually in the Ottoman palace and its surroundings, the way of eating at the table, accompanied by fork and knife, and the preference of European porcelain and tableware, indicates that the empire began to be influenced by the West in cultural areas during the modernization process. . 
Our 19th century Ottoman history was not only a period in which a new restructuring in the bureaucracy and military began, but also a period in which "Europeanization" began in the daily lives of the Ottoman elite. Since the second half of the century, European innovations can be observed in the food culture . The concepts of “Alafranga” and “Turkish Alaturka” were defined in this period. Eating "Alafranga", that is, eating in the European style, was built by Sultan II. It started to be recognized during the reign of Mahmud (1808-1839). 
The method of eating with a fork and knife at the table was not adopted very quickly and was primarily applied in elite circles. The modernization of table manners in the truly elite circles continued until the end of the 19th century and even into the 20th century. When we examine the palace kitchen notebooks , we learn about the European porcelain dinner sets, metal spoons, forks and knives that were bought to be used in the Ottoman palace . According to Matbah-ı Âmire notebooks, the tableware used in  the Ottoman Palace in the 19th century is different from those used in previous centuries.
In this period, the demand for European origin Dresden and French porcelain vessels increased, surpassing Chinese porcelain. Another innovation is the introduction of new tableware accessories, which were never known before, in this period. Apart from the ordinary plates, bowls and pans used for basic Ottoman dishes such as pilaf, jelly, soup, börek and dessert, the purchase of new plate types for dishes such as fish, salad and potatoes has been documented. 
The use of plates and bowls with special functions, such as serving fish, potatoes and soup, shows that some aspects of European table culture attracted the inhabitants of the Ottoman Palace . In accordance with the new table accessories adopted, the serving order of the table also changed and new habits were born in this period. As we have mentioned before, the customary style of food service was not completely abandoned, but in the first half of the 19th century, the necessities to serve a European style meal began to be purchased. In other words, tables and chairs began to enter the Ottoman palaces and mansions as furniture gradually. 
Spoons made of various materials have always been one of the prominent elements of Ottoman material culture. As in previous periods, spoons remained as one of the most basic elements of tableware in the 19th century palace kitchen . However, since the 1850s, metal-handled forks, knives and spoons have also been taken to the palace. 
From the eyes of foreign travelers who took the subject of 19th century Istanbul , especially from the second half of the century, both European and Turkish style table arrangements, that is, eating from a common plate with a hand and a spoon in the kitchen, and eating with a fork and knife on separate plates on the table, It is seen that it exists in Ottoman society . For example, the famous Italian writer Edmondo de Amicis, in his book Istanbul 1874, while conveying his observations that he lived in the Ottoman capital, expressed his adventure in a restaurant in Pera and talked about the customers who ate there in Turkish and European style tables.
Since the second half of the 19th century, Pera and Galata districts in Istanbul have been regions that reflect the European lifestyle with their buildings, shops and restaurants since the end of the century. Increasing trade links with Europe have also increased the arrival of consumer goods of European origin to the capital. In addition, European-style cafes, restaurants, cafe-concerts, patisseries have started to be opened by foreign and non-Muslim investors in Pera and Galata districts. 
Parallel to all these developments, the elites of the palace and its surroundings began to use European-style furniture in their daily lives as a fashion, and then they began to eat their meals at the table instead of the tray; At the same time, European tastes began to enter the palate cultures gradually. In the past, only high-ranking foreign guests were hosted, but over time, European dishes started to enter the elite Istanbul cuisine. 
Cookbooks published after the 1850s reflect the increasing interest in European culture in the elite circle of Istanbul since the second half of the century. The implementation of European and especially French cuisine in Ottoman elite circles, especially when hosting foreign guests, is again a result of the Ottoman modernization movement during and after the Tanzimat period. 
The articulation of European dishes, which were made and served as a fashion in the first place, into Istanbul cuisine was partially realized after the 1870s. Cookbooks published in Istanbul in the 19th and early 20th centuries document these changes experienced in the last period of Istanbul cuisine. Some of the examples of European tastes from new dishes are sauces, broths, pâtés, some meat dishes such as roast beef, steak, istofato, biscuits, tarts, cakes, garnishes and preserves.  
Istanbul Culinary Culture
Istanbul Cuisine Brings the Accumulation of Centuries to the Present...
"Prof. Dr. Artun Unsal"
The culinary culture of Istanbul is among the issues that need to be addressed within a deep-rooted historical heritage and cultural diversity. Known for his books on traditional food culture , the author Prof. Dr. Artun Ünsal, in his book titled “The History of Taste of Istanbul”, points out that the finds unearthed in the Yarımburgaz, Fikirtepe and Yenikapı excavations will reveal the history of Istanbul's cuisine in much more detail over time. Artun Ünsal draws attention to the fact that Istanbul bears the traces of the culinary cultures of the periods when it was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, as well as the lifestyle and food culture of the ancient Greek world, when looking at its much better known history of the last 2700 years .
Defining today's Istanbul cuisine as "an urban cuisine with a national character in its essence", Prof. Dr. Ünsal states that rurality and locality are in the second plan. Ünsal, in his book, "Istanbul, thanks to the opportunities provided by the military and economic power and the human wealth it contains, has realized a unique bourgeois cuisine synthesis by evaluating different cooking techniques as well as the most popular products of the Anatolian, Thrace and Balkan lands, Black Sea, Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. ” says.
Arguing that an inventory of Istanbul dishes should be made and the “Turkish Cuisine Conservation and Development Institute or Foundation” should be established, Prof. Dr. Artun Ünsal talked about the characteristics of Istanbul cuisine;
When we talk about the food culture of Istanbul , we encounter a great diversity. How would you describe the cuisine of Istanbul?
When "Istanbul cuisine" is said, it should not be understood only about food.
The first is “continuity”; Istanbul cuisine should be handled in a continuity from 8,500 years ago to the present day.
The second is “change in content”;
the content of this cuisine, namely its menu. Think of it as a synthesis of the local cuisine, that is, the synthesis of the imperial cuisine, which reached the highest level in the palaces with the natural backyard of Istanbul, its products and also its imports as the capital of the empires, adopted by the public. Istanbul has the opportunity. He has the financial means to import outside his backyard and is the administrative capital. There are also those who understand good food and want to improve it.
Third, all this historical perspective is surrounded not only by a historical truth, but also by a political, social, anthropological and economic dimension.
Accumulation of Centuries
“…When it comes to Ottoman/Istanbul cuisine; From China to Iran, Anatolia, Arabs to Byzantium and Rome, in other words, a mutual exchange, influence and synthesis with the cultures of Asia, Caucasus, Middle East, Northern Black Sea, Aegean, Mediterranean, North Africa, Balkans and Europe comes to mind. should come. Moreover, the Iranian and Arab cultures, which the Turkish tribes were influenced by when they migrated to Anatolia, and some of their dishes, eventually became a part of Istanbul's cuisine. 
In addition, when they settled in Anatolia, vegetable, plant and fruit varieties specific to this new geography, as well as Greek, Armenian and Jewish cuisines, made a great contribution to the development process of the Ottoman/ Istanbul culinary culture to the extent that they did not contradict the Islamic religion's prohibitions such as pork and wine. Let's not forget that there is Throughout its history, Istanbul, where different ethnic groups, religions and cultures lived together in peace, has also served as a real "melting pot" as the center of relations and mutual interaction between different national and regional cultures. 
Even today, the names of some food and kitchenware, such as coffee, tray, pastrami, sausage, meatballs, even in Arab countries, in countries that used to live under Ottoman rule and in their close neighbors, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Hungary, Macedonia and Poland, The fact that they are leftovers from the Ottoman period, such as pancakes, stuffed wheat, bulgur, moussaka, cream, wrap, tulumba, shepherd's salad, stews, crisps, börek, yufka, kebab, stew, are the result of centuries of cultural exchanges.
You mentioned that the content of old Istanbul cuisine has changed over the years. What examples can we give of these changes?
Things like beans were added later. There are also those who came after the discovery of America. This menu is changing, Istanbul is also changing. Then it spreads to Anatolia. Beans are our national dish. However, there is broad beans before beans, but beans become our national dish. Corn, cauliflower, coffee, tomato, pepper. But we localize them. We're making stuffed peppers. We are making stuffed tomatoes. Always the same techniques. We are remaking the techniques of Central Asia. Why? We have yogurt, we have milk. First, we are influenced by Iranian cuisine. 
Then we are influenced by Arabic cuisine. Because we are nomads, but of course, the material changes when we settle down and become a courtier. Spices are expensive, sugar is expensive, black pepper is expensive. But what's sour in Anatolia? There was not even a lemon, then there was sumac. In other words, the changes in the menu vary depending on the increase in geographical opportunities. We said "continuity" in the first and "change" in the second. This change is especially evident in the 19th century. Westernization movement… French menus are added to palace menus.
French style table... Especially at invitations for foreigners...
Our aim is to say to foreigners, “Look, we also have a kitchen, we know yours too”. In fact, there are one or two French-style dishes in Ottoman meals, which are served only to members of parliament, that is, to members of Parliament. But there is one thing that does not change; The meal ends with rice. Pilaf never changes.
But let me give you an example; Even the rice is changing the name. Pilaf is plain. Some people make rice with rich brains. Eggplant makes pilaf, it costs less. Some have caviar, some have pineapple. Even the pineapple comes in the 19th century. Today pineapple is sold in the market place. Bananas are sold in the market place. Changes, opening to the west… As the architecture has changed… Look at the shape of the palaces, look at the shape of the houses… Likewise, the kitchen is changing. All of this doesn't happen in a day. There are processes in that continuity.
“Istanbul Has Custard Varieties”
How did Istanbul's being an imperial city affect Istanbul cuisine?
Let's think about the first family of Istanbul. What are these? Hunter-gatherer in sociological terms. Think of the first settlements in Istanbul, in caves, Fikirtepe, Yarımburgaz Cave… What's wrong with Istanbul? It has the sea. I mean, in a way that's going to be fish. There will be livestock and a limited amount of agriculture will be done. Only local products will not suffice for Istanbul, which is never satisfied with the urbanization and settlement. Oil, wine, olive oil, rice, honey from the provinces of the empires will come from different places. 
So what is its content? The content is limited in the first phase. Fish, some cereal soups, maybe seafood, mussels, lobster... Lobster is a rich food today, but then there was no distinction. However, in the settled order, the rich cuisine and the poor cuisine will diversify. Better materials, rarer materials, more expensive materials will probably go to the table of the rich rather than the poor. It has a class and social dimension.
In the meantime, of course, the dishes are diversified. For example, Damascus dessert, Albanian liver, Circassian chicken, kebabs from various parts of the empire… Local cuisines are limited. Why? Even though his backyard is limited but limited, it does not hinder creativity. For example, there are about 200 kinds of eggplant dishes on the menu, from sweet, salty, jam to fried, imam fainted and belly.
Which types of desserts are more prominent in Istanbul?
Istanbul's cuisine is a little different from that of Anatolia... We have less kebab and more milky desserts. People also make all kinds of jellies. Anadolu does not know much about jelly. Molasses knows, they rarely make jelly. There are varieties of pudding in Istanbul.
In 1720, Sultan III. A feast at the circumcision wedding festivities of Ahmed's princes. Surname-i Vehbi, Levni, TSM
The kitchens of Topkapı Palace are an important symbol that shows the generosity and power of the ruler.
“The customs of eating and serving would remain as important in the settled imperial administration as in the nomadic principalities. As a matter of fact, eating the meals prepared in the palace kitchens of the dynasty founded by Osman Gazi ; It has been a symbol of devotion and loyalty to the sultan with its hierarchical affiliation rules rather than its mere nutritional function. For this reason, the kitchens of Topkapı Palace, which immediately draw attention with their large and long chimneys and domes, are an important symbol that plays the role of showing the generosity and power of the ruler to friends and foes, beyond cooking and feeding people.”
Today, it is possible to find very different flavors that appeal to all segments of the restaurant in Istanbul.
“Istanbul Dishes Should Be Invented”
In Japan, for example, tradition and modernity go hand in hand. Today, tradition and modernity are together in Turkey. This is how we need to take the Istanbul cuisine. Tradition and modernity. That's why my Turkish cook will know how to cook beans, know how to cook rice, and how to make dolma. The thing we call stuffing, put the ground meat in the dough, close it, it's a börek, right, stuffing is like that. Cooking techniques are changing, in the past there was only fire, there was ash, you used to make your bread accordingly. Now there are gas ovens, electric ovens, rotary ovens. Everything changes according to your opportunity.
We will preserve the tradition in Istanbul cuisine. Let's know the tradition so that we can approach the future. What should be done for him? In order to know the tradition, it is necessary to take an inventory of Istanbul dishes. What is the influence of Anatolia? What is the influence of western cuisine? There are many Italian restaurants in Istanbul today. This is not Istanbul cuisine. This is the cuisine of one of the cosmopolitan world capitals. There is also Chinese cuisine. In Central Asia, we learned a lot from the Chinese. We bought the ravioli and rice from the Chinese. We have also bought from Europeans. We made the kebab, we made the kumiss, but we also bought some from others. Today there are cola and fast foods, but we also have our own meatballs, doner kebabs, lahmacun and simit. Young chefs, for example, can show their creativity after making their own adjustments with the inventory of these classic dishes.
A "creative" and "fine" kitchen 
Istanbul cuisine has always known to reach brand new syntheses from the foreign cuisines it was inspired by. For example, they succeeded in creating a very different Ottoman dessert, "lokum" or "Turkish delight", based on the starchy jellies that Arabs and Iranians call "rahat'l hulkum" (easy to pass through the throat). Just as they transform coffee grains from Yemen into 'Turkish Coffee' with their unique roasting, grinding and cooking methods... 
“Turkish Cuisine Conservation and Development Institute or Foundation Should Be Established”
What should be done to further develop Istanbul cuisine?
Unfortunately, in the Gastronomy departments of universities, they learn Italian and French cuisine more than Turkish cuisine. Turkish cuisine is something different. The material is also different, of course, the old fruits and vegetables are gradually disappearing. Today, it goes to one type of rice, one type of potato, one type of corn, one type of apple. In the past, there were fifty kinds of apples in Istanbul. Go to the richest super market today, there's Granny Smith, Starking… Currently, there are still Amasya apples, but they are getting less and less. Now there is a re-awakening against Turkish seeds, Turkish fruits.
My suggestion is that a Turkish Cuisine Conservation and Development Institute or Foundation should be established, especially under the leadership of public institutions. It is an institution in which the state will take part in cultural institutions, universities, agricultural chambers, stock exchanges, in other words commercial institutions. This institution should have an inventory part, a library part, a museum. In a historical building in the city, a special kitchen for students, namely cooks, courses and conferences should be organized for housewives or other people. 
Vegetable and grain-based cuisine, where meat is used in a relatively small amount
“In this historical metropolis; the flourishing and soaring food culture , from the magnificent palace and mansion kitchens of the past to the humble kitchens of ordinary people ; It is based on a classic pot cuisine that is mainly based on fresh or dried vegetables and grains, where meat is used in relatively small amounts and prepared in its own natural flavors and juices. But Istanbul cuisine, besides juicy dishes, grilled or baked fish and meat dishes; It is also a cuisine where pasta and noodles are indispensable. 
Vegetable dishes with olive oil, such as artichokes, green beans, imam fainted, okra or purslane; Stuffed vine leaves, green peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, quince, celery, onions, artichokes, stuffed with olive oil or meat and stuffed vines are the first ones that come to mind. Istanbul cuisine is also mingled with the delicious fish and seafood of the seas surrounding the city. The delicious stuffed stuffed with seafood such as mussels and calamari, especially by Greeks, Armenians and "Island" Muslims, completes this picture. 
In Istanbul's urban cuisine, where the palace dishes constitute a "model" for the Ottoman notables as well as for the people of the city -but according to their financial means-; Meats from lamb to beef, game, chicken, fish, grains and vegetables, sweets and saltys, eggs and yoghurts are in harmony. Also, this cuisine, unlike its Eastern neighbors, is not very fond of spices. In a process spanning centuries, spicy, simple and light natural sauces are used from time to time; but there is a kitchen where priority is given to fresh and quality products. Dough and milk desserts are another feature.”
The original text, which is accepted as a source, is as follows. Google translation was used for the necessary language change.
As the head chef Ahmet ÖZDEMİR, I see the source:
Ms. I sincerely thank Özge Samancı for her academic studies titled "Istanbul Culinary Culture in the Last Period of the Empire" and wish her success in her professional life. It will definitely be taken into consideration as an example by those who need it in related research and in the gastronomy and culinary community.
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