LOADING ...

























TASTES OF PAST CENTURIES
2001 /APRIL
Feasts to celebrate special occasions, whether it be a circumcision or wedding, are an age-old tradition in Turkey. Every family tries to keep up this tradition, inviting relatives and friends to a ceremonial meal as lavish as they can afford. On such occasions it is customary to patch up quarrels and reinforce old friendships. The forms of such feasts can be traced back to Ottoman times, and before that to ancient Turkish customs in Central Asia. The most important of all were feasts celebrating the circumcision of male children, although circumcision was not practised among the Turks until their conversion to Islam around the 9th century.

In the past the splendour of such feasts reflected the status of the host in society, and the feasts given by a man of wealth and rank in the past might be remembered for years. In the second week of November 1539, Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent gave a feast equal to his name in honour of his sons Bayezid II and sahcihangir on the occasion of their circumcision.
Page 1/4


































TASTES OF PAST CENTURIES
2001 /APRIL
This feast at Edirne Palace is unique not for its splendour, which must have been equalled by many other royal feasts, but because we know exactly what was eaten by the hundreds of guests 472 years ago.

Until recent years very little was known about Ottoman palace cuisine, but with the discovery of this manuscript listing the foods served at the feast, much crucial new knowledge has been gained. All the nearly one hundred different sweet and savoury dishes are listed by name, and the provisions purchased for the feast are given. The latter include 11,582 kg clarified butter, 48,025 kg sugar, 7910 kg honey, 2600 sheep, 11,000 chicken, 2825 kg raisins, 565 kg prunes, 565 kg wild apricots, 847 kg almonds, 1865 kg wheat starch, 25.6 kg saffron, 38.5 kg black pepper, 103 kg onions, 282 kg apricots, 226 kg pomegranate syrup, 1440 kg chickpeas, 900 lambs, 900 geese, 40 cattle, 650 ducks, 200 pigeons and 18,000 eggs.
Page 2/4


































TASTES OF PAST CENTURIES
2001 /APRIL
Engin Turker has set about reconstructing these 16th century dishes so that we may enjoy them today. In tackling this task, Engin Turker has made use of many other historical sources, such as the kitchen records for Topkapy Palace in 1492. By using techniques known to be typical of Turkish cuisine over the centuries, he has managed to recreate these recipes.
Meat and cereals were the predominant ingredients of Ottoman cuisine, and clarified butter and tail fat the most often used fats. Fresh vegetables were grown at market gardens in Istanbul, while pulses were brought from more distant provinces and neighbouring countries. Fragrant rice came from Egypt, rice for pilaf from Iran, and most of the spices from India and the Far East. The Silk Road which passed through the lands of the Ottoman Empire and merchant ships travelling across the Indian Ocean meant that spices were readily available.
Page 3/4


































TASTES OF PAST CENTURIES
2001 /APRIL
Foodstuffs arriving in Istanbul from far and wide were unloaded at the relevant markets, where they were checked by municipal inspectors, who set the retail price. These markets, known as kapan, have long since disappeared, although some have survived in the names of neighbourhoods of Istanbul where they once stood. The most famous of these is Unkapany or Flour Market, where flour brought to Istanbul was checked and then distributed to retailers.

Those wishing to taste some of the dishes which graced that long ago feast given by Sultan Suleyman may try the recipes given here. You will discover that these delicious flavours from the past deserve to be part of our cuisine today.

Page 4/4


































Previous Next