Chef Bozdogan shows Turkish cuisine's rich history

Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:17pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - In her latest cookbook Hande Bozdogan aims to capture the flavors of contemporary Turkish cuisine which has drawn influences from Europe and Asia over the centuries.

In "Istanbul Contemporary Cuisine," Bozdogan and co-author Lale Apa collected 130 recipes from Istanbul's top chefs and food writers. They also included dishes from the Istanbul Culinary Institute, which Bozdogan founded in 2007.

The Western-trained chef, born in Ankara, spoke to Reuters about her native cuisine and her cooking school.

Q: What is the state of modern Turkish cuisine?

A: "Until 85 years ago before the start of the republic, the Ottoman Empire stretched from Austria to North Africa, from the Middle East to the Caspian Sea, so the Empire had all these ethnic cultures living in harmony at that time. That's reflected in the cuisine. In Turkey today, it's a resume of all these things. It's a synthesis. We have examples of Armenian dishes, Safarad dishes and Jewish dishes. We don't call them ethnic anymore. They are all Turkish."

Q: But there are regional differences?

A: "In the southeastern part, it's exactly what you see in Syria. In the West on the Aegean coast, it's totally different because the ingredients are totally different. The climate is very different and the population is very different. There are a lot of migrants from Greece and the island of Crete. They brought their own eating traditions. When you go toward the east, it's more meat, yogurt and eggplants. In Istanbul, it's a representation of everything."

Q: Turkish cuisine has a rich history with a myriad of influences. Is there a rediscovery that past now?   Continued...

<p>Turkish chef Hande Bozdogan is seen in this handout photo December 29, 2004. REUTERS/Hande Bozdogan</p>