Turkey’s gastronomic cities: Unique flavors appeal to both the eye and the palate

Turkey's gastronomic cities: Unique flavors appeal to both the eye and the palate

The unique flavors of Gaziantep, Hatay and Afyonkarahisar, the three cities of Turkey included in the “creative cities” network by UNESCO in gastronomy, almost crack the palate.

In Turkey, which has an important place in the world cuisine, there have been important developments in the field of gastronomy in recent years. Gaziantep was first included in the Creative Cities Network in gastronomy by UNESCO in 2015, while Hatay in 2017 and finally Afyonkarahisar in 2019 were deemed worthy of this title. These flavor stops, which are at the forefront with their thousands of years of history, stand out in Turkey’s gastronomic tourism.
The cuisine of Gaziantep, which is described as the “capital of gastronomy”, has a richness worthy of this title. Beyran, kebab varieties and baklava are among the prominent tastes of the city, which has been given geographical indication registration certificate for 51 flavors by the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office (TÜRKPATENT). GAZIANTEP TRAVEL GUIDE
Antep baklava, the first flavor that comes to mind when it comes to dessert, takes its place in history as the first registered Turkish flavor of the European Union (EU).
An average of 60 tons of Antep baklava is produced per day, with thin dough, plain butter, using “grey pistachio”, which is the most valuable of pistachios, and intensive effort at every stage.
Visitors can go to the baklava shops in almost every street of the city and taste this delicacy.
Beyran is another flavor that should not be missed by those who come to visit the city where hundreds of cauldron dishes are made.
Considered as a soup by some and a main dish by others, beyran is prepared with a mixture of lamb meat cooked in stone ovens for 12 hours, boiled rice, chili peppers and optionally garlic.
Unlike the ones made in other cities, lahmacun is cooked in stone ovens and begins its journey of flavor, in which parsley, garlic, tomatoes, peppers and local home-made tomato paste are added with plenty of spices.
In addition to the familiar types of kebab in the city, kebabs produced with fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, loquat, garlic, onion, keme and tomato attract attention.
The gastronomy city Hatay, which has been home to many civilizations for thousands of years, blends the rich varieties of Ottoman, French and Arabic cuisine, appeals to every taste with over 650 dishes, appetizers and desserts.
The unique flavors of the city, which cheers the palate with its rich cuisine, include tray kebab from hot dishes, Antakya Salty Yoghurt from cold appetizers, and Antakya Kunefesi from desserts.
Hatay, which is one of the cities that come to mind when dessert is mentioned, is Antakya Kunefesi, which sweetens the palate.
Antakya Kunefe, which is cooked slowly over coal fire in copper trays with the unsalted cheese of wire kadayif, is consumed plain, with pistachio, cream or ice cream after hot sherbet is poured on it.
Hundreds of appetizers made using basic ingredients such as roasted peppers, eggplant, olives, chickpeas, tomatoes, walnuts in Hatay also enliven the tables.
Afyonkarahisar, the gastronomy city of the Aegean Region, became the last Turkish city to be included in the “creative cities” network in gastronomy by UNESCO in 2019.
Afyonkarahisar’s most prominent flavor, which contains delicious dishes, which are mentioned with local names, attracts attention as Afyon Sucuk, which is produced on average 20 thousand tons per year.
Another well-known flavor of the city is cream. Afyon Cream, whose name is written even with mani and concise words, is made in 12 hours under cold weather conditions and is sold in 200 gram packages throughout the city, becoming an indispensable part of both breakfasts and desserts.
One of the city’s other registered flavors, Afyon Kebab, which leaves a delicious taste on the palate with bread kadayıf and Turkish delight, is among the other culinary dishes of the city, which includes stuffed ilibada and keskek.
Beyran master from Gaziantep, Ahmet Çadır, said that the city has gained a good momentum in the field of gastronomy in recent years. Çadır said that visitors to the city do not leave the city without tasting delicious food and desserts.
“In recent years, there are a lot of visitors, especially those who come for the day. There are even those who come just to eat. They start the day with Beyran in the morning, then visit historical places, eat lahmacun at noon, and eat delicious kebabs in the evening. At the closing, our guests who eat baklava leave the city. We are very pleased with this interest and relevance”
Ali İnci, the sausage master from Afyonkarahisar, stated that they feed their animals with natural foods in their farms and said, “We rest the meat, the rested meat becomes sausage with natural spices. We leave the sausages fermented. We send them all over Turkey. We get positive reactions from the citizens, they love Afyonkarahisar sausage.”
Cream master Şükrü Pancar stated that the specialty of Afyonkarahisar cream is that it is made from buffalo milk. “And it is with kadayıf on bread. Our desserts cannot be without cream,” he said.
Turkish delight maker Ahmet Önder emphasized that Afyonkarahisar is one of the cities that introduced Turkish delight to the world, and that the most important feature of Afyon delight is that it is made with buffalo cream:
“Afyonkarahisar’s Turkish delight varieties are many in the form of snacks and fruits. The best one is the one with buffalo cream. Our customers choose what they want because the variety is wide. Our Turkish delights are appreciated all over our country and are consumed with pleasure”
Hasan Kılıç, the butcher, who has been preparing tray kebab in Hatay for nearly 30 years, also stated that they host many local and foreign tourists who come to the city to taste this unique flavor and said, “Our guests who eat tray kebab for the first time say that the food is very delicious and leave satisfied. Everyone enjoys this flavor. We look forward to tasting it.”
Kunefe master Fatih Uzunparmak stated that künefe has a very special place in the gastronomy city Hatay, and said that tourists who come to the bazaar definitely stop by them.
Hatay Gastronomy House Kitchen Chef Süleyman Demirel also stated that Antakya Salty Yoghurt, which was registered in 2020 as well as dessert, is one of the indispensable appetizers of the city cuisine and is highly appreciated.
One of the customers, İbrahim Parlakkılıç, stated that he did his military service in Afyonkarahisar and that he tasted the Turkish delight he had never eaten in his life here. Expressing that he admired Afyonkarahisar Turkish delight, Parlakkılıç said, “I am discharged, I will take Turkish delight to my whole family on the way back to my hometown. Turkish delight is shaking the throne of sorbet desserts. I would especially recommend buffalo milk to everyone.”
Ümit Kızıl, who came to Hatay from Mersin on holiday, said that he ate tray kebab with his friend upon recommendation, and that he found it very tasty. Kızıl added that he found Hatay cuisine unique and that everyone should taste these flavors.

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