The delicious Turkish cuisine has widely spread and Turkish restaurants can be found all over the world. But, apart from the Turkish cuisine that is very popular, what is the influence of all this Turkish food on other Mediterranean cuisines?
The Mediterranean diet is commonly known as a very healthy way of eating and the typical characteristics of this diet such as olive oil, fish, nuts etc. are incorporated by many food lovers that want to eat healthy. And it is not just the ingredients that find their way into Western culture as well, but a typical Turkish dish such as kebab has been so integrated into Western diets that we often forget it is from Turkish origin.
To look at the impact of the Turkish cuisine on other Mediterranean countries, it is necessary to look at the extension of the Ottoman Empire. This empire controlled part of the Middle East, Europe, Inner Asia and Egypt. And although countries such as Greece were under tight control of the Ottomans, they obviously prefer to highlight their own culture, recipes and history. However, the fact is that the Ottoman Empire has had a significant impact on the cuisine in many of those areas.
Some of the most well-known ingredients that have spread across the Mediterranean due to the Ottomans are olive oil, cooking with grape leaves, eggplant dishes, yoghurt, desserts made with filo dough and pistachios. However, also lamb is a typical Turkish dish that has had a significant influence on food and recipes in other Eastern Mediterranean countries. Or a simple plate such as fresh vegetables served with olive oil as a side dish or starter. Salads topped with lamb instead of chicken. And the list can go on and on.
So, even though a lot of countries consider their food as typical from their region and are proud of their traditional dishes, some of these might actually have their origin in the Turkish cuisine and came to these countries due to the Ottoman Empire. Of course, each country gave their own touch to these recipes so it will probably taste a little different everywhere but the base is the same. Take baklava as an example (the typical filo dessert), they might be prepared a little different across countries and might even be named differently, they do clearly come from the Ottoman Empire and it is a very good example of Turkish food that became part of many Mediterranean cooking traditions. Or the fact that many Greek salads are topped with lamb instead of chicken is another example of influence from Turkey on a Mediterranean cuisine.
We already mentioned before that the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the best ways of eating for your health. And although cooking styles and recipes clearly differ between countries in the Mediterranean, a significant influence of Turkish food can be observed in the fundamentals of this diet.