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Writer: Yavuz İşçen
May 2008

In Turkey we have an expression; “cheese and bread, it is a ready banquet”. Truly, in our country bread and cheese can be thought as a meal in itself. In very few cuisines in the world, we can find cheese as a foodstuff for breakfast. In Turkish culture, it is impossible to think breakfast without cheese.

To start a day with cheese
Today, even on a table of a middle-class family it is possible to see various kinds of cheese. The classical white cheese is one of the corner stones of the Turkish breakfast. In addition, young and old yellow cheeses together with tulum cheese (aged skin bag cheese) take their places on the table. Apart from the breakfast, in traditional Turkish cuisine, cheese has a various area for usage. If we consider that pastry has an important place in our cuisine and most of them are baked with cheese; it is easier to comprehend the importance of cheese in our lives. Pie with cheese, waffle with cheese and pita with cheese are among our inalienable tastes. Of course we must not forget noodle with cheese and macaroni with cheese. Also the toast with cheese, which we have to sate quickly, now becomes part of our lives. Different types of cheese are the make up and taste of our salads. One of the most common food of the Black Sea Region, made of cheese with corn flour, egg, cream and butter, is called ‘mıhlama’ and the food called ‘guymak’ has the similar ingredients.

Beside these, cheese finds its place among antipasto and entrees which are important in Turkish cuisine. Anyhow, cheese utterly is an important antipasto of rakı table; especially with melon the combination is marvelous. We have cheese in various dishes such as “mücver” made of mixing cheese with potato or zucchini; “cheese pane” made of yellow, hellim or mihalıç cheese rolled with egg and flour; “baked mushroom” covered with melted yellow cheese; “hot pot shrimp” covered with melted yellow cheese. Moreover cheese is inside our deserts such as cheese halvahs, made of different special cheese; “kemalpaşa” cheese desert; “höşmerim”, famous in different parts of Anatolia; and the most famous “künefe” from southeastern cities especially from Antakya.

To discover our cheese richness
It is impossible not to have a rich diversity of cheese, as we see it is a base and is being used a lot in the cuisine. According to the researches, there are more than 160 types of cheese in Turkey. Then, why Turkey is not listed among the countries which are world famous with their cheese? Because in addition to lack of promotion, most of the local cheese of Turkey is produced with traditional methods on the plateaus and mostly they are for the consumption of the locals. Since these kinds of cheese are out of industrial production, allocation and marketing systems, they are not well known.

Our local cheese as a part of our culture
Each of our local cheese is unique and racy. It is like wine’s differing from one vineyard to another. The local cheese has a close relation with the life style of its producer. The traditions like nomadic life and transhumance have a big impact on the production of local cheese. That’s why cheese of our country is actually part of our culture. Thus, there is a cheese culture in Turkey.

The cheese of Cappadocia
The best places that you may find the Cappadocian cheese, are the local markets of your location. Usually the local markets are open once in a week in the centers of districts or boroughs to which the villages belong. These markets are very suitable not only to trail the local cheese but also to learn more about the region, people and cultural differences. At first, you need to find out on which day of the week the local market of your location is open. For example, the local market in Ürgüp is open on Saturday, in Avanos on Friday, in Nevşehir and Aksaray Güzelyurt on Monday. Usually the cheese and dairy product sellers have a separate place within the local markets. In these markets, you may find Nevşehir’s çömlek cheese (clay cheese), Aksaray’s white cheese, Kayseri’s çömlek cheese (clay cheese), uzunyayla isli cheese (smoked cheese) and tulum cheese (aged skin bag cheese), çerkez cheese (Caucasian cheese) and Niğde’s küp cheese (jar/cube cheese).

Note: This article has been published in Peribacası Cappadocia Culture and Publicity Magazine, May 2008 issue. It is under protection of the copyrights of the magazine. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by electronic, mechanical or other means without prior permission from the owner. www.cappadociaexplorer.com


Reading Reading: 6289 Eklenme Tarihi Date: 2009-06-23

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