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İzmir Province Turkish Foods
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A smattering of Ottoman-Turkish historyIn the years just prior to the First Crusade, one man dominated the İzmir region -- then known as Smyrna. He was Çaka bey (say chah-kah behy), the first in a long line of celebrated Turkish naval commanders that included Barbarossa (the warrior) and the Piri Reis (the map maker).
Çaka, a Selçuk Turk by birth, first joined Selçuk legions as a simple foot soldier -- fighting against the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus sometime after 1078 AD. And in 1081, while Alexius was in the Balkans battling the Pechenegs, Çaka seized the opportunity to establish his own small kingdom in ancient Smyrna -- already 2000 years old at the time. The offshore islands presented rich and tempting targets, so he built the first Turkish Navy and set sail -- first conquering Chios, then Samos and Rhodes. And when Alexius sent his own navy to stop him, Çaka defeated it handily.
But the cunning Byzantine wasn't done yet -- and he conspired to create jealously between the Selçuk Sultan Kılıç Arslan and his son-in-law Çaka. After the two men faced off a couple of times, Çaka was forced into an uneasy truce with the sultan. And according to Byzantine sources, Çaka met His Maker at an ostentatious dinner party given by Kılıç Arslan (to observe renewed 'Selçuk solidarity') during which the sultan spiked Çaka's 'punch' with deadly poison!
Turkish Food and Drink, Izmir-styleBut fear not... The present-day İzmir 'food kitchen' is far from poisonous!
On the contrary, it offers the most easy-going of food menus. For example, İzmirites often start the day with a breakfast of simple, sooo tasty kaynarca (toasted day-old bread, doused with hot meat juices).
Lunch is never heavy (a light fish course suffices), and dinner features a wide range of vegetables. In the countryside, between meals, villagers savor snacks of broad bean, collard greens and zucchini. Those 'on diet' forego the snacks and drink a mountain tea called 'ana baba kokusu' (mother and father's smell) -- found especially in the Alaouite Muslim villages.
Olive oil is much-loved and abundantly used in the region -- bread dipped in olive oil is often enough to make a lip-smacking meal for local folk. A boiled vegetable salad of radika (wild-growing chicory) is also extremely popular. This is served cool (with lots of olive oil, remember) sometimes with unripened grapes, sometimes with lemon juice.
But the dish that made İzmir's kitchen famous is provocatively named kadınbudu; a woman's thigh...
Preparation time: 20 minutes
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