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But all the stuff at that link looks familiar - as far as Istanbul restaurants are concerned, anyway. If you didn't get, for example, anything like the messez pictured, then I think you were very unlucky. Or maybe somewhere very unrepresentative. I remember the waiter used to come around with big selections of mezes to choose from at the beginning of the meal - you didn't get that?

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I have a very cheap and cheerful Turkish cookbook in front of me that I picked up in Turkey. It is an ordinary book and is not designed for "international gourments"

 

Looking at the contents page a section called "Game Meats" features:

 

Wild Duck with Oranges

Rabbit with Raisins

Hare with Carrots and Mushrooms

Pigeons in Tomato Sauce

Hare Ragout

Partridges with Artichokes

Turtledoves in Wine Sauce

Woodcocks with Rice

Quails with Rice in Tomato Sauce

 

In the Fish section

 

Shrimp with Spinach and Feta

Baked Eel with Spinach

Squid with Rice and Red Peppers

 

and so on and so on.

 

Now tell me. Can dishes like these and others like them be found in Turkish restaurants-either in Turkey or London?. Because if you know where they can be please say where.

Tuck, your complaint seems to be that you don't find your above dishes on restaurant menus, and which since they appear in your Turkish cuisine cookbook(s) you assume to be quintessentially Turkish. Those in the fish section, all of which I am quite sure I have seen in Greek restaurants in Athens as well as the islands, are perhaps generic to the region. I question if the dishes in the game section really reflect Turkish cuisine in that most of the treatments read like meats and treatments available during hunt season throughout France. None of them 'sing' Turkish exclusivity to me. It is my guess that they were included to illustrate the bounty of Turkey's game. And of course it is possible that they are available in some specialty restaurants during game season, just as game is the specialty of a few restaurants in Paris during several fall months but not at other times. Just my take, and I have been wrong at the top of my lungs before... :lol:

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I spent a week in Dalyan (SW Turkey) and didn't eat lamb kabobs once. There was a lot of grilled fish, various vegetable preparations, a pizza-pide hybrid and even something that was sort of like an Italian torta that is traditional to that region of Turkey. Did have the most fantastic roasted lamb sandwich there.

 

That said, in places like Marmaris and Bodrum where tourists outnumber Turks, it's hard to much else other than kabobs.

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I spent a week in Dalyan (SW Turkey) and didn't eat lamb kabobs once. There was a lot of grilled fish,

 

I've always found the fish that you always look forward to eating in coastal Turkey and Greece to be poor. I confess to liking Northern cold water fish better than Mediterranean/ Aegean fish. But in most of those coastal restaurants which look nice beause they're on the waterfronts they just have little idea how to cook the stuff. It normally turns out to be dry and tasteless and utterly without interest. and before people jump up and say that they had a great piece of fish in some Turkish place in X, I am not saying that ALL the fish in ALL the places is poor, but that in general the Med fish cooking in Turkey is weak compared to similar along the Med in Italy, say

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Guest Adam

So you are saying that some of the fish in some places in Turkey is poor? Can't argue with that, same as everwhere else.

 

Did you try the turbot it Turkey? These look like really amazing fish I would like to try these.

 

There are very few English language books on Turkish cusine about, I have been tracking down a few recently, but it isn't a cuisine I know very well.

 

One thing that is very interesting is the place of food in the Ottoman society. The following links describe some of this (the names of the army ranks is very cool).

 

http://www.about-turkey.com/cuisine/imperial.htm

 

One thing I would say is that it is very difficult to judge a cuisine from a very small amount of exposure. To expand on this idea, I use somebody elses words which are much better then mine.

 

"A nation's gastronomic level should be examined by tasting both the products of the best private kitchens and restaurants and the dishes from the kitchens of the peasantry. Somewhere in between lies the true level of excellence".

 

And this was from a Frenchman, so it must be right.

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I think the comment about private kitchens and restaurants goes to the heart of Nick's point upthread about "restaurant cultures".

 

A country doesn't have a restaurant culture just because it has a lot of restaurants. IMO it has a restaurant culture where in some of the restaurants it does have, some of the most talented cooks and some of the very best and most creative and original food in the country can be found. In other words, when the ability to cook better than most has become professionalised and will provide a career for those that wish to pursue it.

 

In order for that to happen people have to get into a mindset which accepts that going out to a restaurant is a leisure activity on the same level as going out to a concert, a film, a play etc. In other words, they need to bring a critical mindset to the activity to the poiint where they will discuss the merits of the meals they have eaten and the restaurants they have been in with as much reflection as they will discuss a film they have just watched. In that way a critical discourse amongst those interested in restaurants can begin and a "restaurant culture" begins to develop.

 

As an example this is exatly what has been happening in India, well in Mumbai and Delhi, over the last decade or so. The current Times of India Good Food Guide to Mumbai (an unheard of publication when I first went there in the 80s) talks about the provenence of chefs, their career paths, where they trained, what their styles of cooking are etc. You're beginning to get celebrity chefs and celebrity restaurants-ie a "restaurant culture". It's not just in the West apart from that either. You have it in Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia.

 

Mariani's article would seem to indicate that this beginning to happen in Istanbul but I would contend that in general Turkey does not have a restaurant culture in that sense yet. The really good food is still being cooked in private homes, and while that is the case a restaurant culture cannot develop because a community of diners is not eating it and the chefs are not publicly recognized for it.. It's all very well saying that a nation's gastronomy includes the best of private kitchens but that is all academic if only a miniscule number of diners can ever get to eat the food

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This point has been made in various ways numerous times over the last five years or so and I don't have any issue when it is expressed like that at all.

 

But, I think that it oversteps the mark to judge the merit/worth whatever of a regions food culture, based on one aspect. So what you and Nick say here makes sense, but I have seen highly experienced international diners base there opinions of a regional cuisne on their experience of a curry shop in London or a kebab shop in NYC. I don't think I can agree on that.

 

It may be academic if the best food is consumed privately, but it doesn't alter the fact that food of quality still exists in the region. Is Nick's food less good for cooking in a club? Because that is what is being implied about non-restaurant orientated food cultures time and time again.

 

Resturants are not the be all and end all of a food culture. Although I am very interested in many aspects of food culture, to be honest restuarants and chefs etc bore me to tears, so maybe that is my bias.

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It may be academic if the best food is consumed privately, but it doesn't alter the fact that food of quality still exists in the region. Is Nick's food less good for cooking in a club? Because that is what is being implied about non-restaurant orientated food cultures time and time again.

 

 

But surely for a meaningful discourse on a nation's gastronomy to take place, people have to have access to the food that is being held up as representative of that gastronomy. If they choose to, that is. If I go to a country and the restaurants are awful (and I'm not saying that of Turkey), the fact that there may be a housewife or a professional cook in the house across the street cooking her socks off is of no use to me in coming to an assessment of that country's gastronomic standards. Sure there are good cooks everywhere. But not everywhere has the same gastronomic standards. It is public discourse which informs the development of a nations gastronomy, and for that to happen the public have to have access to the best that country can offer. And that, by and large, will be in restaurants.

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Guest Adam

I have meaninful discussions with people on the food and eating of cultures that a long dead.

 

 

If you want use very strict definition of "Gastronomy", then obviously the food has to be available to be consumed, as that is part of the definition of the word. But, I wouldn't want to confuse gastronomy with a comprehensive overview of all aspects of food culture.

 

For instance, if you want to talk about gastronomy in Turkey and specifically the fish cusine in Turkey, I don't think that you can have a meaningful discussion on "gastronomy" without having eaten the the very special, and highly prized local form of the Turbot from the Bosphorus. Simply eating some unidentified fish is not gastronomy.

 

These arguments are dressed up as being in the "public's" interest, but essentially it is saying that to be relevant then it has to appeal to a small sub-set of the population that are interested in high end dining and can afford it. Hardly democratic is it.

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These arguments are dressed up as being in the "public's" interest, but essentially it is saying that to be relevant then it has to appeal to a small sub-set of the population that are interested in high end dining and can afford it. Hardly democratic is it.

 

 

But Spain, Italy France are all places where the standards of gastronomy are very high but you do not have to be a wealthy subset of the population to participate in that gastronomy. People of all backgrounds and incomes take an active interest in the food that they eat and they go out to restaurants regularly and discuss and criticse them in newspapers and magazines and write books about them. Sure you do have to have a measure of disposable income to partake in eating as an active leisure and interest activity, but that would apply in Turkey if Turks with an interest wanted to have access to your special highly prized Turbot from the Bosphorous.

 

 

You know last week I had lunch at the Auberge de L'Ill in Alsace-a three star restaurant. The place was packed out with families out for Sunday lunch-young kids, toddlers, aged grandparents - large groups of people all casually dressed, chatting and relaxing en famille. Were they all part of a "wealthy subset of the population?" Well, maybe they were but my impression was that they were mainly just ordinary folk but they live in a culture where it is normale to spend a significant portion of your disposable income on Sunday lunch at a fine restaurant. Now how does a culture develop that mindset? Or rather why do some do and some do not? Because it's only by acknowledging the truth that some do and some do not that this perennial conversation can ever progress.

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Sure you do have to have a measure of disposable income to partake in eating as an active leisure and interest activity, but that would apply in Turkey if Turks with an interest wanted to have access to your special highly prized Turbot from the Bosphorous.

 

Well, that's were you are incorrect. They do have an interest. How did you miss it?

 

http://www.gastroville.com/archives/the_re...ope/000031.html

 

I think that there may just possibly be room for a population to have interest in the food, somewhere between "....lunch at the Auberge de L'Ill in Alsace-a three star restaurant" and a kebab shop.

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Well, that's were you are incorrect. They do have an interest. How did you miss it?

.

 

 

You must have misread what I said. I didn't say they didn't have an interest. I said that those who have an interest would need to have a certain amount of disposable income in order to pursue that interest as the article indeed confirms.

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You must have misread what I said. I didn't say they didn't have an interest. I said that those who have an interest would need to have a certain amount of disposable income in order to pursue that interest as the article indeed confirms.

 

Can't ahve been too clear then.

 

This is the same situation with "gastronomy" in the UK. Doesn't make "gastronomy" in the UK any more or less relevant.

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The point about L'Auberge de L'll which I think you also misunderstood is not that every French family is eating at a restaurant of that standard and cost every Sunday but that it is a part of the mindset of the French in general to spend a higher proportion what disposable income they have on Sunday lunch at a good restaurant.

 

It is the proportion of disposable income that a culture is prepared to spend on gastronomy,not how big or small that disposable income is, that determines how developed its gastronomic culture is

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