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Regional Cuisines in Turkey

History and geography have played important roles in the diversity of Turkish regional cuisines. Turks originated from Central Asia, from where they arrived in Anatolia around the tenth century. At the time, Anatolia already had a very rich culinary tradition influenced by the numerous civilizations that developed in or passed through this land (the Hittites, the Romans, and the Byzantines, to name just the most important ones). Later, the Arabs (who also brought Islam to the Turkish tribes) and the Persians also left their legacy on the Turkish gastronomy. As the Ottoman Empire expanded taking over vast lands in the Balkans, Central Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa, Turkish cuisine also borrowed from the cooking styles of the diverse conquered populations ( Turkish cuisine is an eclectic one, reflecting today all these cultural differences. Figure 14.1 shows Turkey divided into seven regions, each with its own cuisine. Next, we will briefly discuss the gastronomic characteristics of the seven regions.

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