The standard Turkish breakfast includes
bread, butter, jam and/or honey, olives,
tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, yogurt,
cold meats, fruit juice, perhaps
eggs, and tea or coffee. It's often
set out as a buffet.
Bread (ekmek, ehk-MEHK):
standard Turkish sourdough white bread,
baked fresh twice a day (early morning
and late afternoon). Fancier places
may add francelâ (shaped
like a baguette, but with a denser
crumb), bread rolls, whole wheat, and/or simit (Turkish
circular sesame "bagels").
Butter (tereyağı, TEH-reh-yah):
the best comes from the Black
Sea region because of its fat well-fed
milch cows, but you may just get the
standard little packets.
Jam (reçel, reh-CHEL)
and/or Honey (bal, BAHL):
the best is jars of home-made fruit
preserves, but you may also encounter
the little standardized sealed packets.
Same with the honey: the stuff in the
packets is good, but Turkey produces excellent
honey in places like Marmaris and
A tip: mix your butter and honey on
the plate, then spread it on
your bread—the Turkish way.
Olives (zeytin, zey-TEEN):
black zeytin range from small,
luscious oil-cured to rather dry, too-salty
ones. Green olives are flavorful but
tart, sometimes bitter, and rarely
stuffed with pimiento.
Tomatoes (domates, doh-MAH-tess) & Cucumbers (salatalık, sah-LAH-tah-luhk):
in season, very good. Out of season,
Cheese (peynir, pey-NEER):
standard is beyaz peynir (white
sheep's milk cheese), the best being tam
yağlı (full fat), creamy, slightly
salty and delicious. The worst is dry,
sour and/or overly salty, perhaps from
having been recycled from one morning
to the next—or maybe it's just cheap.
You may also get yellow kaşar peynir. Taze
kaşar is fresh (unaged) and mild; eski
kaşar is aged, a bit sharper and
Yogurt (yoğurt, YOH-oort):
Usually excellent! It's
most often the plain kind, freshly
clabbered, not flavored or sugared
(add your own sugar, if you like).
The little plastic factory-filled containers
of embalmed, sugary-fruit-goop-sweetened
yogurt also appear on Turkish
hotel breakfast buffets, though, so
I guess nothing is sacred.
Meat (et, EHT): Hotels
serving an international clientele
may serve bacon and pork sausage, but
in general you won't find these pork
meats on the breakfast tables of this Muslim country.
What you'll find is beef sausage or
bologna, mostly cold, mysterious and boring.
Fruit juice (meyva suyu, mey-VAH
soo-yoo): usually a disaster,
even in expensive hotels. It's either
real juice heavily watered down or
(gasp!) fake "artificial
fruit drink" made from chemical
sin in a country that produces
an abundance of Europe's finest fruits
and juices. A very few places, such
as Cappadocia's Esbelli
Evi, the Villa
Hotel Tamara in Kaş,
Otel in Bodrum,
etc., offer fresh-squeezed orange or
other juice worthy of Turkey's reputation
for producing excellent fruit.
Eggs (yumurta, yoo-moor-TAH):
boiled yumurta with yolks ranging
from liquid to petrified may
be set out on breakfast buffets. If
you see no eggs, ask for yumurta (yoo-moor-TAH).
You can often request one boiled to
order: three-minute is very runny,
five minute is hard-boiled, the perfect boiled
egg is kayısı ("apricot")—everything
soft but not liquid. In fact, you
really never know how it'll come out,
so you may prefer fried eggs (sahanda
an omlet, even peynirli (with
Tea (çay, CHAH-yee): usually
good traditional Turkish
super-strong and meant to be cut with
hot water to your desired color and
strength (1:4 or even 1:5). Traditionally
served only with sugar, but lemon is
often available for foreigners. There's
always milk for the coffee on the buffet
so you can astound the waiters by
putting some in your tea if you like.
KAH-veh): breakfast coffee is
not usually Turkish
coffee but Fransız (French)
or Amerikan, meaning somewhat
weaker, without the grounds lurking
at the bottom of the cup. Or it may
even be (shudder) instant (hazır
kahve, neskafe). Surprisingly,
non-Turkish kahve is often
even in expensive places: often strong
but rarely fragrant, with a dark,
burnt (rather than roasted) flavor.
It's a mystery why. Good medium-
and dark-roast coffee is sold in
the markets, but brewing in the hotels
So much for the standard breakfast. If
breakfast is not included in the price
of your hotel room, you can wander
out and breakfast freestyle on su
böreği, a big rectangular
multi-layered cake of steamed pastry
stuffed with white sheep's-milk cheese
and parsley. Or—my favorite on-the-road
breakfast—a steaming bowl of lentil
soup (mercimek çorbası) with
lots of fresh sourdough bread.
Pastry shops (pastane) have
lots of cakes, biscuits, puddings and
sweet treats, sometimes with hot, sweet
milk or sahlep (sweet orchid-root-and-milk
good in winter.