Istanbul & Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey

Turkey, straddling Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is a complex and diverse nation, as is its cuisine. Food writer Robyn Eckhardt has visited the country several times, traveling from cosmopolitan Istanbul to the country's lesser-known areas. She begins each regional profile with a brief history of the settlements and geography that make it distinctive. Istanbul's location on the edge of Europe brings us dishes with international influences, while the eastern part of the country, with its high elevation and long winters, features more limited but no less interesting fare. The southern Hatay region's Mediterranean climate is ideal for a Sun-dried Tomato and Pomegranate Salad. Head north to the inland provinces in Central Anatolia for hearty grain-based dishes, like Wheat Berries with Chicken and Tomato Butter. The far northeast, along the border of Georgia and Armenia, offers sweet triangle buns filled with caramelized corn flour, while the southeast, near the Syrian border, boasts the sweet heat of the Urfa pepper with sautéed beef and caramelized onions.

The recipes are approachable and clear, even with exotic or unfamiliar ingredients. Nigella seeds, kadayif and za'atar, potentially daunting for home cooks, have suitable alternatives provided when available. "Stocking Your Turkish Pantry" lists the most essential ingredients. Lush photography by Eckhardt's husband, David Hagerman, accompany recipes, as well as profiles of local cooks, farmers and other food providers. The result is a cookbook steeped in rich history and vivid flavors. --Frank Brasile, librarian

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