Turkish Cuisine in Republic Period
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Turkish Cuisine in Republic Period*

Raşit Gürel wrote a book called “Evin Yemeği” (the Food of the House) for educational purposes. Mr. Gürel is a very valuable chef, who has worked at the Turkish Embassy in Holland, at the Presidential Mansion during Atatürk’s presidency, and finally as an instructor at Technical College for Girls. He has educated many cooking instructors himself and wrote a cookbook that is appliable and 100% accurate.

Necip Ertürk is a chef who has shaped kitchens of the international chain hotels. Beginning with the Republic period, new hotels have started to open up, and need for chefs increased.  The guest of the hotels were both Turkish and international, therefore international cuisine was also applied in the hotel kitchens. Necip Ertürk wrote five different books that has shaped these cuisines very well. Among these books were “French Culinary Arts,” “French Style Culinary Decorations”,“ Turkish Culinary Arts” and “Turkish Desserts.”

This threesome, has become the most important food writers in the first years of the Republic period. These books are also important because they are the first cookbooks written with modern Turkish language. The westernization movements that has started during the late Ottoman period, affected the kitchen to include some foreign inspired dishes.  Bechamel sauce, creme bavaroise, and soupe anglaise have all appeared in these all cookbooks written by the three gentleman. However later on some studies were done to purify and simplify the cuisine. The first studies were done by Nevin Halıcı around 1985, by translating a book called “Tatlıcıbaşı” (The Dessert Chef) written by Hadiye Fahriye. The aim here was to introduce Turkish cuisine as is, without mixing it with foreign cuisines, so that the future generations can differentiate between what is Turkish cuisine and what is foreign cuisine. If this differentiation hadn’t taken place, then 50 or 100 years later dishes like creme bavaroise may have caused confusions.

“50 Turkish Dishes in History” prepared by Süheyl Ünver, and “Foods of the Fatih Period” are also some of the books written in Republic period.  Later, many other cookbooks written by various chefs and cooking instructors were published.

The first attemps to record Anatolian culinary culture was through a book written by Koçay and Ülkücan in 1961 called “Anatolian Dishes and Turkish Cooking.” A book called “Konya Cuisine” written by Selçuk Es in 1965, and another book called “Cuisine of Trabzon and Surroundings” were the only cookbooks written in 1960’s.

We all know that Turkey has a wonderful culinary culture and nobody was aware of this other than people who published these cook books. Food was never thought as part of the culture. The first initiative to consider cuisine as part of this culture was done by Konya Tourism Association. Food was considered as culture and it was taken to a national and international level with the establishment of cooking competitions that started in 1970’s.  The first competition was organized within the Restaurant Association to draw attention to regional cuisine of Konya. The aim of the association was to resurface the cooking methods of the region, and also to record all the information about the culinary culture of the region. “Traditional Konya Cuisine”, “Cuisine of Aegean Region”, “Cuisine of Mediterranean Region”, are some of the studies done in this manner. Also “Pastry in the East”, “Ali Eşref Dede’s Recipes” are books that have been sources that shed a light on classical cuisine. Starting with 1970’s, the Minister of Culture and Tourism at the time, Cihat Baba, started paying more attention to food culture related matters and established the first Turkish Cuisine Symposium in 1981. Following that in 1982, Konya Tourism Association also held Traditional Turkish Cuisine Symposium. These organizations that have been running between 1982 and 1986, have continued with the 1st International Food Convention with the efforts of Feyzi Halıcı. This convention ran every two years. The fifth one took place in 1994. These conferences have been internationally recognized and presented at London University and became the second most popular food symposium after the one held in Oxford every year.

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