merlin

Member
The cheeses of Turkey....
This is reflected in the 11th century Turkish dictionary, Divanü Lügat-it-Türk, written by Mahmut of Kaþgar between 1072 and 1074, in which he cites the words udma and udhitma for fresh cheese, and translates the Turkish sentence Ol udhitma udhitti as He made cheese. The verb udhitmak originated from Uighur Turkish and meant to put to sleep, to make solid or to leaven, so etymology reveals the delightful idea of milk solidified into fresh cheese being 'sleeping milk'.

The modern Turkish word for cheese, peynir, first occurs in the Book of Dede Korkut, a collection of orally transmitted legends which were first written down in the 12th and 13th centuries. Evidently this word first entered the Turkish language following the migration from Central Asia. The Türkmen tribes knew how to make several different varieties of cheese and must have adopted this new term for them on their way westwards through Iran or after their arrival in Anatolia.

Anatolia already had its own cheeses originating in antiquity. Writing about the northwestern region today encompassing Bolu, izmit and iznik, the famous historian Strabo says, In the interior of Bithynia above Tieion is Salona, where alone are the finest pastures for cattle and where Salonites cheese is made.

In his history of the Ottoman dynasty, Aþikpaþazade (1400-1484) writes that Osman Gazi gave gifts of cheese, dried yogurt, fat and clotted cream to the Byzantine rulers of Bilecik in return for protecting the property left behind in their winter settlements by the Ottoman tribes in their seasonal migrations to the summer pastures with their herds.

The Code of Law issued in 1502 by Beyazit II gives the names of cheeses from all over the Ottoman Empire which were sold in the markets of Istanbul: fresh lor cheese, kaba lor cheese, fresh dil cheese, fresh çayir cheese, Mudurnu cheese, Þumnu cheese, Karaman cheese, Sofia cheese, Eþme cheese, Midilli (Mytilene) cheese, teleme cheese, cheese in brine (white or feta cheese), Limni (Limnos) tulum cheese (cheese made in a goatskin bag), izmit tulum cheese, Rumelia tulum cheese, fresh kaþkaval cheese, and Balkan kaþkaval cheese.

Today there is a general misconception among Turkish urban dwellers that Turkey does not possess a wide range of cheeses. This is because few regional cheeses find their way into city shops. In fact there are a great many varieties, many little known outside the area where they are made, a finding which is not surprising in a land which has been home to many civilisations over thousands of years.

I will begin a brief tour of Turkey's cheeses with çökelek, made from the whey left over from the cheese making. The people of Anatolia who, as the expression has it squeeze bread out of a stone, neglect none of milk's potential and process it in every possible way. Even the greenish yellow liquid known as whey left over from making cheese or lor (a soft curd cheese) from the milk is not discarded. When the whey is boiled up a new curd known as çökelek or çökelik forms.

Apart from the plain çökelek cheese sold in Turkey's large city markets and shops, there are many interesting regional varieties which are either eaten fresh or preserved by pressing into goatskin bags or pottery jars, or alternatively dried in the sun. Some examples of these are inebolu süt çökeleði, Giresun çökeleði which is used as a filling for the famous Black Sea pide (thinly rolled bread dough with various fittings on top baked in the oven), Rize's kurçi cheese which is eaten with corn bread for breakfast, Kars çökelek which is used as a filling for layered pastries and in salads, the jaji cheese of Bitlis, Afyon's Emirdað çökelek which is preserved in lambskins, the Kirk Tokmak cheese of Milas, and Hatay tulum çökelek which is mixed with fresh thyme and black cumin seeds.

A close relative of çökelek is kurut, dried bricks of yogurt made of low-fat milk or of çökelek made from buttermilk. In some regions kurut is known as keþ. Since it has a lower fat content it keeps well. Some of the best known regional varieties are the kurut of Kars and Bitlis, the sürk (dried çökelek) of Hatay, the keþ of Mengen and Giresun, and the dried çökelek of Aydin.

Lor is a soft fresh cheese, a relative of the somewhat harder textured Ricotta of Italy and the Greek Myzithra and Anthotiro. It is produced by dairies making kaþar (a hard yellow cheese) from sheep's milk. Lor with a variety of flavours is also made in rural homes from the whey left over from cheese making.

Lor is eaten without salt or very slightly salted, so it does not keep well. It is an ingredient of various savoury dishes, layered börek pastries and puddings. For breakfast or as a snack fresh lor is delicious with sugar, honey or jam.

The lor of Kirklareli made from kaþar whey is well known to connoisseurs, and other delicious varieties are the lor of Mustafakemalpaþa (near Bursa), Manyas in Balikesir, and above all of Savaþtepe, all made from Mihaliç cheese whey.

There are cheeses common to both sides of the Aegean. For example, the fresh lor cheese of Ayvalik in Balikesir is left to drain in a basket mould and eaten fresh, like its counterpart on the island of Mytilene. The Kirlihanim cheese made from lor in Ayvalik, Foça and Karaburun is also made in Greece. When mixed with strained yogurt and olive oil it makes an hors d'oeuvre fit for a paþa. The kopanisti of Çeþme and Karaburun is another shared element of Aegean cuisine.

Other regional varieties of lor cheese in Turkey are Antalya lor cheese, Kars kurtlu cheese, the kurtlu lor of Yusufeli in Artvin, the Minzi cheese of Çamlihemþin in Rize, Trabzon Minzi cheese and tel kariþik cheese, and Rize's ayran cheese.

By far the most widely consumed type of cheese in Turkey is white cheese, which can be eaten fresh or after maturing in brine. Teleme is a type of white cheese made almost everywhere in Turkey by straining the pressed curds, sometimes in a bag hung from the ceiling. Soft, high fat white cheeses made usually of ewe's milk in the northwestern regions of Trakya and Marmara are the most highly esteemed. The high-quality ewe's milk of Ezine, Biga and the area around Edirne means that their white cheese pickled in brine is superb. Antalya's white cheese made of a mixture of goat's and cow's milk also deserves mention.

Cheeses mixed with herbs are a subdivision of the white cheese family, and traditionally made of ewe's or goat's milk, but in recent years of a mixture of these with cow's milk. To the white cheese is added 15 percent or less wild herbs. These cheeses have always been well known in eastern and southeastern Anatolia (Kars, Aðri, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Hakkari, Muþ and Bitlis), and are becoming increasingly familiar in Turkey's major cities.

There are many varieties of these herb cheeses. That made in Van contains wild garlic, while that of Bitlis contains a local herb known as sof otu which grows in damp situations. Horse mint (Mentha longifolio) and Pimpinella rhodentha are other herbs used.

Fresh cheese spoils quickly, which is why preservation processes such as pickling in brine, pressing into skins, being left to mature under soil or sand or in caves, or lightly blueing with mould have developed.

Tulum cheese - cheese preserved in a goatskin (hairy side outwards) - is widely made everywhere in Turkey apart from Trakya. The finest are those of Erzincan, Erzurum and the alpine pastures of the Toros mountains dividing central Anatolia from the Mediterranean coast.

Kaþkaval (fresh kaþar) and mature kaþar are dense textured cheeses native to Anatolia, which is where the Turks made their acquaintance. The most famous is the kaþar of Trakya, which is moulded into drums 16 cm high and 30 cm in diameter and weighing 11-12 kilos. Other fine kaþars are those of Muþ, Bayburt, and Trabzon's Kadirga and Tonya districts.

Dil, Çerkez and Abaza cheese, tel (literally 'string') cheeses, and örme (braided) cheeses are other notable varieties which I can do no more than mention here. But I would like to end with what in my opinion is the king of Turkish cheeses, mihaliç. This cheese is made in the provinces of Balikesir and Bursa of full-fat, unpasteurised milk from the kivircik sheep. It is white in colour, characterised by bubble holes 3-4 mm in diameter, and with a hard irregular rind 2-3 mm thick. It is extremely well flavoured and keeps well. Hard, mature mihaliç cheese is in no way inferior to Italy's famous Parmesan cheese when grated over pasta dishes.

Diversity of cheese types is influenced by four main factors: cultural habits and tastes, natural conditions, the species and variety of animal providing the milk, and production methods. This is equally true of Turkey, where scores of local cheeses in every region are now beginning to be discovered, putting the country on the cheese map at last.

Merv!
:)
 

Navan

Non Active Mmember
The cheeses of Turkey....
Me and cheese go hand in hand. I'm not a connoiseur of them but I know what I like. I loooooooove strong extra mature cheese and it has to be so strong it brings water to your eyes. I had some last week and I swear I could taste the feckin manure that the cows were standing on whilst grazing. I also like goats cheese but will only have it if it is served this way. Warmed under the grill then put on top of a bed of rocket salad and drizzle the cheese with honey. Heaven! Whenever I have friends over for dinner thats what they get for starters as it also looks the part! I am very sceptical of eating cheese abroad and will only if it's prepackaged from the supermarket. I would definetly not touch goats cheese ever while in a foreign country. The hygiene is not so good and I'd be afraid of a dicky tummy!


Anna
 

tricia

Member
The cheeses of Turkey....
Oooooh, you're missing out on an enjoyable experience. When we go to the market I love tasting all the different cheeses and have never had a tummy problem (except for the size of it)
 

tricia

Member
The cheeses of Turkey....
After a couple of glasses of Raki, you're mouth would be numb and you wouldn't notice.

A compromise might be to buy pre packed in the supermarket - the flavour wouldn't be quite so good, but at least you'd feel more comfortable trying some Turkish cheeses.
 

merlin

Member
The cheeses of Turkey....
That reminds me Tricia of another lil scam used prolifically in Turkey.

<center>Sell by Dates</center>


A little bit of lighter fuel on a tissue and you can wipe off most foodstuff expiry dates. Its common practice in many supermarkets - moreso on imported items that are geared towards the tourist segment.

Merv!
;)
 

Navan

Non Active Mmember
The cheeses of Turkey....
There are textures I don't like, like the soft cheeses and usually they have no flavor so I avoid them. Even when in the Saturday market my stomach was heaving looking at the flys swarming around the cheeses that were left on display asking for a fly to land and plant some eggs then to be swallowed by an Irish woman and she goes home feeling unwell then one day she gets sick and all that comes up are fly larvae and the projectile is so far that one of the larvaes lands on a Turkish tourists lunch whilst holidaying in Ireland then he goes home with a tummy ache and his tummy gets bigger and bigger then he notices a lump moving under his skin and what pops out but a huge fly that has been chewing him up from the inside. I don't have a vivid imagination it's just that this is what will happen if you eat cheese that flys have landed on!


Anna
 

Navan

Non Active Mmember
The cheeses of Turkey....
well he won't cause me any harm because he will be so sozzled!

Anna
 

Navan

Non Active Mmember
The cheeses of Turkey....
I'm afraid I'm a tuc and phillidelphia cream cheese person especially when we are sitting down to a nice bottle of pinot grigio in the evening time! Bliss.


Anna
 

merlin

Member
The cheeses of Turkey....
If you had Goat Cheese freshly prepared I am sure you would enjoy.... Turkish neighbours always have their favourite sources and I am sure they would share with you....

Merv!
 

gezmek

Regular guy
The cheeses of Turkey....
quote:Originally posted by merlin

Soft Lamb Cheese and Melon with a 35cl of Raki.....

Yum!
I'd substitute black olives for the melon but we're definitely on the same wavelength!
 

mark

Member
The cheeses of Turkey....
35cl of raki with the cheese sounds very good.You will be wrecked the cheese wwith have a ting of aniseed and any fly will be so far gone he will be dancing to tarkan
 

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