Folks, let's change things up. Instead of overwhelming you with all the pictures of all the delicious things I encountered on my three-week trip to Turkey in September (as I've done before here), I'm going to take it slow. I want to introduce you to the special flavors of Turkey slowly, allowing each culinary wonder its room to breathe.
One of the first new foods (or beverages, to be more precise) I tried in Turkey was ayran. Similar to a lassi or doogh, ayran is a cold drink made from mixing yogurt, (usually non-carbonated) water, and a pinch of salt. Turkish ayran tends to be creamier than Iranian doogh (as it is frequently made with thick, whole milk yogurt) and thinner in consistency than a lassi. While bottled ayran is ubiquitous throughout Turkey and often quite delicious, I promise seeking out the frothy, freshly-made stuff is well worth the effort.
Restaurants that offer fresh ayran use a special sink to mix the yogurt and water, and to circulate the liquid so that it is always well-mixed and frothy. In restaurants throughout Istanbul, fresh ayran is frequently served in beautiful copper tankards. Cold ayran, in whatever form, is an unbelievably refreshing drink on hot days.
The most delicious ayran I had in Turkey was at a place smack dab in the middle of the Old Market's hustle and bustle, called Lezzet-i Şark. We first popped in for a quick lunch on one of our first days in Istanbul and I insisted we go back towards the end of our trip, just to make sure it was as good as I remembered. And it was.