M. Adnan Şahin
A General Look at the Cuisine of Tokat
The kitchen has an important role in the form and functionality of Tokat houses. The houses of Tokat are of the classical multi-story Anatolian type. Entering from the street, one enters a stone-paved area called the taşlık (taş – stone). Besides this area one enters a workroom used as a kitchen and pantry. A stairway leads from the taşlık to the upper floors of the house. There is a section called an ara kat (mezzanine) between the taşlık and the upper floor. This area, generally above the work room, is better heated during the winter months. The upper flor is the actual living space. Based on the upper floors, we see that Anatolian houses are generally laid out on the “karnıyarık” (split down the middle) plan, with a hall down the middle and rooms on the sides. In Tokat homes, an arrangement with a hall on one side and rooms on three sides is more common. These houses, with a wooden frame filled with adobe and usually a stone floor, are called hımış. These very functional homes have separate entrances to the middle and upper floors, a design reflecting an eye to privacy. The difference between upper and middle class family homes lay in the ornamentation and number of rooms. Small or large, rich or poor, all homes had certain common elements including storage areas, kusulhane, bath, closets, sedir (benches around the edge of the room), water basins, a hearth and shelves.
The decorative elements in Tokat houses highlight the importance of culinary culture in the area: the cupboard doors of 19th century houses are richly decorated with paintings of apples, pears, eggplants, melons, watermelons, grapes etc. One large room in the homes is planned as a kitchen. The room between the kitchen and the public parts of the house is called the iş evi (work house) or aşkana. Appropriate to the understanding of hygiene at the time, kitchens were floored in hexagonal terra cotta tiling that gives it a beehive-like appearance. One corner of the room was set aside for the hearth for cooking. One section is divided off into a pantry for the storage of preserves, cheese, pickles and winter stocks. There are also bins for the storage of grains and legumes. The attic of the house, known as the arustak, is equipped with hooks for hanging pastırma and elbiseli sucuk (sucuk wrapped in cloth). According to the family’s economic status, the garden might have an oven for making Tokat kebab, a şirahane where grape juice was pressed to make pekmez and other products. These are all indications of the wealth of local Tokat cuisine.
Throughout Anatolia, each region has its own unique names for kitchen implements. Below is a list of some of the kitchen utensils used in Tokat, with their local names