Number 1: TEA
When you think of Turkey, think of tea. And get ready to drink it a lot, like really A LOT! Turkish people taking the process of cooking tea as a very serious thing. It shouldn't be too light or too dark! And it has to be super hot so the tea-guy must deliver it in the speed of lightning. Or it has to be served on the fire or minimum in thermos.
Tea-guy (çayci - read "chaidji") is the most important person in each office. If you will have to wait in municipality or, let's say, electricity company office you will see çayci running with his tray up and down, up and down :) And spot the WC because to refuse the tea is not an option.
Number 2: COFFEE
Feel the importance of coffee! In Turkish language the breakfast called "kahvaltı" - literary means "meal before coffee". So coffee is the star of the morning and food is just something to prepare your stomach for it.
And after drinking it you have to make a fortune telling. So coffee is not just a drink at all. No waiter will dare to touch your coffee cup if it turned upside down on the plate. It means that miracle is happening and your future is being written inside.
Number 3: AYRAN
Ayran is a salty mixture of yogurt with water. A favorite drink next to food, it's been ordered even more often than cola or beer. It took time for me to love it, but now I am totally addicted.
Be sure to try spring ayran. It looks fun and it is very delicious. It rehydrates you perfectly and normalizes the water-salt balance in the body and irreplaceable in hot summer times.
In addition, ayran prevents the reproduction of poor intestinal microflora, increases the secretory activity of the stomach. Many people use ayran to get rid of a hangover.
There are many vitamins, amino acids and minerals in ayran. Ayran is low in calories and contains a lot of proteins. This is an excellent snack.
So next time on the beach you know what to order. ;)
Number 4: RAKI
Raki is nothing but the 70% vodka obtained by distillation of grape raw material with the addition of an extract of anise seeds.
Raki is colorless, crystal clear drink. But if you put in it some water, it turns white. Therefore raki in the Middle Ages was called lion's milk.
Where to drink raki the best?
1. Fish restaurant. In Turkey it is like this: fish restaurant = drinking raki.
2. Meyhane. This is a restaurant which serves enormous amount of meze (small hot or cold starters) and raki.
How to drink raki right?
Pour raki into a narrow, tall glass (special raki-glass) - 1/4 for a single serving and 1/2 for a double, then add water and put 1-2 ice-cubes.
Number 5: Şalgam (Shalgam)
OK, this is the freakiest drink I've ever tried! It's been served with raki very often. and it looks very tempting. Especially when you see crowd of Turkish people happily drinking this wine colored liquid.
Don't fall for that trap! It is nothing like pomegranate juice (as I was imagine), it is salty and more like a marinade for tomatoes. And it is actually fermented juice of black carrot! First sip was like a punch in my face :)
As you know alcohol dehydrates the body, Shalgam compensates water balance perfectly.
Number 6: SAHLEP
This one is an ideal winter drink - high in calorie and hot, it can quickly warm up your body.
The main ingredient is salep flour. It is made of dried roots of wild Anatolian mountain orchids Serapias.
With pinch of cinnamon on top, flavored with rose water or orange zest sahlep will surround you in cocoon of cozy smell. Hot and sweet. Perfect.
When you will spend winter in Turkey try once to replace your latte of hot chocolate with sahlep and you will see.
Number 7: BOZA
Here we go again! Don't fall for its look. It is not even close to sweet sahlep even though it looks very a like. Even a pinch of cinnamon is there. :) It is made of slightly fermented wheat, corn or millet. Salep came to the Ottomans kitchen from the Arabs, and boza is a heritage of the nomadic Turkic peoples. As much as love sahleb as much I don't like boza.
It is a sweet and sour drink, something between kefir and beer. Consistency is like liquid sour cream. It's often eaten with a spoon with sprinkle cinnamon and leblebi (roasted chickpeas beans) on top.
However boza is a very useful drink containing basic vitamins - A, B, B1, B2, B3, C, E. Also phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. This drink improves digestion and can be called a ready-made sports nutrition.
I've noted that everyone liked my post about wines of Shiringe. Indeed Turkish wine is legendary. But I didn't include it in the "traditional drink list" because: A. winemaking is a relatively young industry in Turkey; B. The wine in Turkey is so good that it deserve a separate blog post. Promise to write about it soon. Don't miss it.