Turkish Cuisine in the 11th Century
The Development of Turkish Cuisine and Historical Turkish Traditions
The Homeland of the Old Turks and Names of Their Foods
Foods and Breads of the Selçuk Period
Ottoman Cuisine
Historical Sources on Turkish Cuisine
Food-Related Literature in Turkey

Yusuf Has Hacib has this to say about the basic manners that should be observed at an 11th century feast:

Do not begin eating until those older than you have begun. Begin eating with a besmele (the blessing “In the name of Allah the merciful and compassionate”), and eat with the right hand. Do not touch the morsels in front of others, only eat what is in front of you. Do not take out a knife at the meal and scrape bones. Do not be gluttonous and do not recline too much. But however full you may be, extend your hand and eat the food offered with relish, so that the woman of the house who prepared the food will be please. Thus do not make those who have gone to the trouble to prepare a feast and invite you feel they have done so in vain. Bite off only what your mouth can hold and chew subtly. Do not blow on hot food. Do not wipe your hands on the sofra when eating, and do not make those around you uncomfortable. Eat with moderation, because people should always eat and drink little 5.

In addition to this general sofra etiquette, Yusuf Has Hacib also provides some advice concerning health from the standpoint of food and drink. I believe it is useful to include this from the standpoint of 11th century ideas and understanding concerning nutrition. On the subject, he has the following to say:

If one has too much heat due to the excessive consumption of hot foods, then one must immediately drink something cold; if too much coldness, this should be remedied with heat. During youth and the spring of life, eat cold things, because your blood will warm them. Past the age forty, in the autumn of life, remedy your nature with hot things. At sixty, the winter of life, eat hot things, do not be friendly with cold things. If you have eaten too much of dry and cold foods (in order not to be harmed) have hot and moist things ready at hand. If the warmth and moisture is excessive and you are harmed by it, remedy it with hot and dry things. If you have a cold nature, strengthen it with heat. If your nature is hot, then eat and drink cold things. If your nature is absolutely neutral, then eat hot and cold things alternately. If you want to remain healthy always and never take ill, take the medicine called “little” (in other words, eat little) and live that way; if you want to live long and in peace, eat the meat called tongue (swallow your tongue) and live thus, be clean-hearted person 6.

c) Basic Foods of 11th Century Turkish Cuisine: As far afs is understood, tutmaç, which heads the Anatolian Selçuk and Ottoman kitchens registers, was the Turks’ most famous dish in the 11th century. Known in the other countries to which the Turks had spread in the Near and Middle East, tutmaç is still made today in various parts of Anatolia. For this reason, some of our writers characterize this as the Turkish national dish, which I believe is correct. As much has already been written on the preparation and main ingredients of this dish, we will not write about that here. However it should at least be said that the making of tutmaç was a long and involved process, and the ingredients therein were very rich and nutritious, even curative. To the same extent, it was difficult to digest, in other words, it was a very sustaining dish. Tutmaç was not eaten with a spoon but rather with a type of fork called a şiş. After the noodles or mantı in tutmaç were eaten, the broth was drunk.

At the top of the list of other foods was certainly meat and meat dishes. In the 11th century, Turks at mostly mutton. Still, though the slaughtering of horses was decreasing steadily under the influence of Islam, according to Kaşgarlı, one of the Turks’ most loved meats was a fatty meat called kazı 7 from near the horse’s stomach. On the other hand, fresh fatted lamb was also held in great esteem. We know that the Oğuz called lamb and kid suitable for the making of kebab söğüş 8, so that even if its composition has changes somewhat, söğüş has at least a thousand-year history in our language. In the same way, the Turks of the 11th century called animals fed and prepared for slagher etlik 9 (“suitable/used for meat”), and the fact that its modern usage means a male goat with suitable meat is a fine example of the continuity of Turkish eating traditions. If we add to the above that just as in the 11th century, so today in some parts of Anatolia the butcher is known as an etçi (standard Turkish, kasap), we find ourselves a bit more enlightened on the situation.

During the century at hand, it is certain that chicken and other fowl, fish, and game animals such as deer and rabbit were less desired.


Kııtadgu Bilig, 1 (Text), Haz.: Reşit Rahmeti Arat, Ankara, 1947, LIX, 656 s.
a)Divanü Lugatı’t-Türk, C. I, Haz. Kilisli Rifat, İstanbul, 1333 (1917) IKilisli Il
Divanü Lııgati’t —Türk, C.II, Haz.: Kilisli Rifat, Ist., 1333 (1917) [Kilisli İİ]
Divanü Lügati’t—Tıirk, C. III, Haz.: Kilisli Rifat, tsi, 1335(1919) [Kilisli III
b) Divanü Lugat-ıt-Tiırk Tercümesi, C. 1, Haz,: Besim Atalay, TDK Yayınları, Ankara. 1939, xxxvi, 530 s. [Atalay I]
Divanü Lugat-it Türk Tercümesi, C. II, Haz,: Besim Atalay, TDK Yayınları, Ankara, 1940, 366, 111 s., 1 folding map. [Atalay II]
Divanü Lugat-it Türk, C. III, Haz.: Sesim Atalay, TDK Yayınları, Ankara, 1941, 452 s. [Atalay III]

1 Kilisli I, 169 - Atalay I, 194.
2 Kilisli I, 354 - Atalay I,423
3 Kilisli I, 322 - Atalay I, 385. Although Sesim Atalay has translated the word bürük as “round yarn, bürük,” it should be “all round sewn items, sofra spreads, trouser band and similar items.”
4 Kutadgu Bilig (=KB), LXVI. Fasıl.
5 KB, LXV Fasıl.
6 Ibid.
7 Kil isli III, 169 - Atalay III, 223-4
8 Kil isli I, 308 - Atalay I, 369
9 Kilisli I, 93 - Atalay I, 101
10 Kilisli I, 87-88 - Atalay 1, 95

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