The Best Foods and Edible Souvenirs to Bring Back From Turkey
Edible souvenirs are great, they allow you to share your culinary adventures and discoveries with family and friends, and make the ending of vacations a little less bitter and a lot more sweet. If you're visiting Turkey, you won't have any trouble finding tasty gifts to take home with you. All you have to do is stroll through the markets where you will find heap after heap of precariously piled teas, spices, coffees, sweets and other delicious treats.
In case you're having a little trouble deciding, here are six local foods and beverages that we think make excellent edible souvenirs to take home from a trip to Turkey.
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The smell alone will draw you in and bring back memories of your time in this coffee loving republic where this beloved drink is most often served strong, black and sweet. If you want to play it safe, definitely go for a bag or two of Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, one of the most renowned brands of authentic, high quality, Turkish coffee. However, if you want to try something a little different, then the aromatic, wood fire roasted Kurukahveci Nuri Toplar may be a good choice.
When you visit Turkey, it's likely you'll end up eating copious amounts of these flaky, sweet, syrup drenched pastries and even after all of that, you'll probably still want more to take home, because let's be honest, Turkish baklava is ridiculously good.
Just a few tips to keep in mind if you do plan to take some baklava home, dry baklava will taste good for longer than the wet, syrupy type, it's also less likely to make a mess in your luggage. However, if you want the latter, make sure to buy it at the very last minute, get it well wrapped, and ask for a little less syrup unless you want to arrive home to a soggy mess.
Turkish Apple Tea
Tea plays an incredibly important role in Turkish society, which probably explains why the country has the largest per person consumption of tea in the world. Traditionally, the type of tea consumed is black tea, made straight, and served with sugar, which is how most Turks still enjoy their tea today. However, when it comes to tourists in Turkey, apple tea is the clear preference.
Even though it's hardly consumed locally, Turkish apple tea is delicious, and the massive amounts of it being purchased by visitors to the country is testament to that fact. So don't hesitate to get some as a gift. It might not be a traditional Turkish tea, but at this point, you could consider it a traditional Turkish souvenir.
This tangy spice, popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, is made from dried and crushed sumac berries. It has a rather coarse texture, and a deep red, almost burgundy color, and is wonderful for garnishing or seasoning all types of meals in the same way you would use lemon, tamarind or vinegar. If you plan on cooking some Turkish dishes once you get back home, it's an excellent souvenir to have on hand.
A variant of sumac also exists in North America, it's also known as poison ivy and definitely shouldn't be consumed. Don't worry the one you'll find around the Middle East is perfectly safe to eat however.
Turkey is actually the largest producer of apricots in the world, accounting for 82% of the supply, most of which is grown in just one region - Malatya. If there's one place to get your apricots (dry if you plan to carry them across borders), then it should be in Turkey - right where they're grown.
When buying your apricots, keep in mind, a bright yellow or orange color means that the apricots have been treated with sulphur dioxide to increase shelf life and color retention. Organic, untreated apricots will have a darker color and rougher texture, but are really just as delicious, if not more, than treated apricots.
If you're eating anything made with hazelnuts right now, Nutella included, there is a very high probability that those hazelnuts came from Turkey. Turkey is also the worlds largest exporter of hazelnuts and they also have the second largest per capita consumption of these delicious nuts.
Locally, they are used to make a variety of sweet treats such as Turkish delight and even baklava, but sweet, creamy hazelnut spread is also a pretty common product made and sold in Turkey. We'd say it's the best culinary invention since sliced bread, which it happens to go really well with.
After your trip to Turkey, you might find yourself craving the same sweet pastries, savory dishes and aromatic coffees or teas you enjoyed during your stay, so it's a good idea to stock up on a few of your favorite treats to take back with you for when the cravings strike.
If you're feeling a little adventurous, maybe pick up a few foods that you didn't have the chance to try, that way you can continue discovering the diverse flavors of Turkey well after your visit.