My favourite meal
Breakfast really is my favourite meal. I think Turkish breakfast beats any other breakfasts hands-down. I do make a concession to scrambled eggs when I’m in England though. And even though I love Turkish çay, I admit that I have to have my cup of Yorkshire with milk in the morning in order to get me going. This is my breakfast day in, day out, winter, summer, I love it. I never skip it. The colours, the textures, the tastes appeal to me every time. I also like the fact it’s so healthy. In comparison, cereals leave me cold.
Traditionally a Turkish breakfast includes white cheese/beyaz peynir and olives/zeytin as well as cut up tomatoes and cucumbers. If I am going to stay anywhere for a long time, I’m so picky I take cheese and black olives with me. As far as I am concerned, only Turkish olives will do. We lived in Tokyo for a time and even though the selection was vast in the international supermarket National Azabu, I went through Spanish, Italian, Greek, you name it, and was always disappointed. It was the same with olive oil.
A typical Sunday morning thing to do in Istanbul
At the weekend when the weather is fine, all the little cafes along the Bosphorus here in Istanbul fill up rapidly. People relax with their friends and enjoy having their breakfasts outdoors reading the papers. It’s a very typical Sunday morning thing to do. Not just here but all over Turkey. If I wasn’t so careful about calories, I would keep my olives in olive oil but I just have them plain. I have lovely dried thyme/kekik which I usually get from my neighbour Leyla in Assos who picks it and dries it. I crush it between my fingers and sprinkle it lavishly over everything. Oh the smell! It’s so evocative. Flaked red pepper/kırmızı biber is another must for both the cheese and olives.
Just look at this picture of the ultimate Turkish breakfast served at a place called Saklı Vadi or Hidden Valley, halfway between Selçuk and Şirince tucked amongst the olive trees down towards İzmir.
I have a friend, Frances (she of the fabulous quinces) who organizes Turkish textile tours. Sakli Vadi is one of her favourite stops. She says there are usually 18-20 different items on the breakfast table according to season. The last time she was there, she tasted an ‘extraordinary walnut jam made with the green shells whole before hardening’. The honey, cheese and salad items are all local and eating them either outside in the garden or in front of an enormous open log fire all adds to the pleasure.
So you can see my breakfast is simple compared to this feast! You certainly can’t be in a hurry to savour a breakfast like this.