Turks are famed for their hospitality, so for me, the best eating in Turkey is neither in the cities nor the resorts, but in people’s homes. Get off the beaten track and many people are delighted to welcome visitors. On a recent road trip between the Mediterranean resorts of Antalya and Kaş, my friend was caught short while passing through at small village. We stopped to ask a group of women outside the village shop if there was a toilet handy. One of them, smiling broadly, beckoned us into her neighbouring house to use her facilities. She then insisted we sit while she brought us traditional tulip shaped glasses of piping-hot çay (Turkish tea). While we were busy drinking, we realised she was preparing our lunch - an offer we couldn’t refuse.
A few minutes later, a huge tray arrived, laden with dishes. A saucer of olives picked from the tree in her garden and home-cured with thyme and lemon was followed by sliced tomatoes in which you could taste the warmth of the Medittarenan sun. A plate of strong, crumbly local goats cheese came accompanied by bowls of creamy chicken soup that our host indicated had also come from her garden, gesturing outside at the small flock of happily clucking hens. It was all served with piles of yufka – delicious and impossibly soft and thin village flatbread. We ate it, attempting to communicate in our few words of Turkish with our host and her assorted children, grandchildren and their friends. The warmth of this welcome and the delicious simplicity of the food is the real taste of Turkey.
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