The Turkish breakfast is more than just a meal, it’s a cultural celebration that brings families and friends together through a diverse array of delicious dishes and meaningful conversations
Turkish breakfast delights and diversity offer one of the world’s most special culinary experiences. This meal doesn’t just serve as a feast but also creates unforgettable moments where families and friends come together for long conversations.
The previous weekend, we made plans to meet as a family with a relative of mine who we hadn’t seen for a very long time and missed a lot. While we politely discussed where and at what time we would meet, the answer was quite clear: We decided to come together for breakfast. In Türkiye, breakfasts are not merely a daily routine, they often serve as a significant meal that brings families, friends and loved ones together for extended conversations, and a chance to fulfill longings. In fact, I can say that it holds a very special place in Turkish culture.
We gather for breakfast and indulge in the delightful Turkish flavors specially prepared for the occasion, all while engaging in conversations that seem to stretch well into the late morning. These intimate moments, shared among families, friends and neighbors, are a true expression of togetherness and the act of dedicating time to one another.
Later, it struck me that I had to write about this incredible ritual. This breakfast ritual, which is a part of our culture, was something I absolutely needed to share.
As everybody agrees, there’s no denying the exceptional hospitality of the Turks. We were greeted with warm smiles and a truly exquisite breakfast table. At the end of the day, our friends bid us farewell with their incredible hospitality. While continuing to savor the delightful and diverse flavors adorning the breakfast table, we had hoped that the conversation, which had extended well into the afternoon, would never end. In Türkiye, it’s a common occurrence for breakfast gatherings at large tables to commence early in the day and nearly stretch until noon.
Here are some of the common and basic items offered at Turkish breakfast tables:
One of the undisputed leading actors of the Turkish breakfast is undoubtedly cheese. Breakfast tables are adorned not with a single type of cheese, but with a wide variety of cheeses on a generous platter. While cheeses like Ezine cheese, tulum (a sort of cheese that stands between ezine cheese and kasseri cheese), kasseri cheese (referred to as kaşar), and goat cheese often take the spotlight, depending on the region, a myriad of cheese varieties can be served.
Pastries such as börek, a family of pastries or pies in Türkiye, whether filled with cheese, spinach, potatoes or minced meat, are the crowning glory of breakfast tables. The crispy, sesame-covered simit is also an essential part of both on-the-go breakfast and leisurely Turkish breakfast sessions that last for hours. Gözleme, a stuffed phyllo-like thin pastry that is grilled on both sides, pastries, and various types of bread rolls are some of the hearty delights that adorn the breakfast table.
If you ask who the counterpart of cheese is at breakfast, I would definitely say olives. Olives, including green and black varieties, are among the most important flavors that adorn breakfast tables.
One of the essentials on Turkish breakfast tables is eggs. Eggs can be prepared in various ways according to individual preferences on every breakfast table. Some may choose to boil eggs and serve them with salt, black pepper and various spices. Others may opt for an omelet, while some prefer serving scrambled eggs with thinly sliced sucuk (Türkiye’s signature spicy sausage). Additionally, eggs play a significant role in another breakfast delight, menemen, which is a magnificent blend of eggs, tomatoes, peppers and spices.
Honey, clotted cream
Honey and clotted cream, create a burst of flavor on breakfast tables. Clotted cream, typically made from fresh cow’s milk and often served with honey, is sometimes accompanied by various jams. There are plenty of options to sweeten your palate at the beginning or end of breakfast. In different regions, you can find a variety of jams that add sweetness to breakfast tables. If you’re in Türkiye, you might discover that in addition to classic jams like strawberry, cherry and peach, jams are made from unexpected ingredients such as watermelon, milk or even eggplant.
Apart from jams and honey, tahini with molasses, nut butter or peanut butter are also delightful flavors that tantalize the taste buds on breakfast tables.
Turkish tea, coffee
A Turkish breakfast without tea is simply unimaginable. After each flavor dances on our taste buds, a sip of tea, steeped in teapots and served in slender glasses, provides the perfect finishing touch.
Black tea, brewed in teapots, is served with sugar for those who prefer it. Tea is an absolute must-have on Turkish breakfast tables and an indispensable part of conversations and sharing. Sometimes, there are tables where a single teapot is never enough.
After savoring all the flavors at breakfast, and even when everyone’s stomachs are completely satisfied, a cup of Turkish coffee completes the breakfast table.
The charm of Turkish breakfast doesn’t just come from its flavors but also from its diversity. Breakfast tables can vary across different regions of Türkiye, thanks to the country’s geographical richness.
When we had breakfast at the home of our friend who hails from the Black Sea region, we experienced a touch of the Black Sea. There was cornbread on the breakfast table, a specialty of the Black Sea region. And then, there was the legendary Black Sea delight, “mıhlama,” a porridge made primarily with corn, meal and cheese, which became an unforgettable part of our breakfast.
If you find yourself at the breakfast table of a friend from the Aegean Coast, you might come across fresh herbs, olive oil and seafood.
In a breakfast spread specific to southeastern Anatolia, you’ll surely find tahini and molasses. The central Anatolian region’s breakfast, on the other hand, offers a unique taste with more dried fruits and pastırma-filled (spicy paste-like combination with a strong smoky spicy flavor) pastries.
Turkish breakfast is a rich, diverse meal that energizes your day. It features veggies, fruits, yogurt and probiotics. It’s not just a meal but a cultural experience that brings people together. The presentation is artistic, with colorful dishes. It fosters family communication during long morning conversations. This breakfast reflects Turkish culture, history and hospitality, making it a must-try when in Türkiye.