Turkish Breakfast, The excellent Turkish breakfast includes butter, bread, jam and honey, olives, tomatoes, yogurt, cucumbers, cheese, cold meats, fruit juice, perhaps eggs, and coffee or tea. It’s often set out as a buffet.
Bread: standard Turkish sourdough white bread, baked fresh twice a day (early morning and late afternoon). Better places may add francelâ (shaped like a baguette but with a thicker crumb), whole wheat, bread rolls, and simit (Turkish round sesame “bagels”).
Jam and Honey: the best is jars of home-made fruit conserves, but you may also find the little-regulated sealed packets. Same with the honey: the material in the containers is good, but Turkey provides excellent honey in places like Marmaris and even Kars. Another Turkish way: mix your butter and honey on the plate, then lay it on your bread.
Butter: the best comes from the Black Sea region because of its fat, well-fed milch cows, but you may just get the little standard packets.
Olives: Black zeytin (olive) range from small, luscious oil-cured to rather dry, too salty ones. Green olives are delicious but tart, sometimes bitter, and unusually stuffed with pimiento.
Cheese: the standard is Beyaz peynir (white sheep’s milk cheese), the best-being tam yağlı (full fat), creamy, slightly salty and delicious. The worst is dry, sour and overly salty, perhaps from having been reused from one morning to the next—or maybe it’s just budget. You shall also get yellow kaşar peynir. Taze kaşar is fresh and mild; eski kaşar is aged, a bit sharper and more flavorful.
Tomatoes & Cucumbers: in the season, excellent. Out of season, maybe flavorless.
Yogurt: Usually great! It’s most often the everyday kind, freshly clobbered, not flavored or sugared. The little plastic factory-filled containers of embalmed, sugary-fruit-goop-sweetened yogurt also appear on Turkish hotel breakfast buffets, though, so I guess nothing is sacred.
Fruit juice: usually a disaster, even in upscale hotels. It’s either real juice slowly watered down or fake “artificial fruit drink” made from chemical powder—an incredible sin in a country that produces a plenty of Europe’s finest fruits and juices. Very few places offer fresh-squeezed orange or other juice worthy of Turkey’s name for producing excellent fruit.
Meat: Hotels serving worldwide clients may serve bacon and pork sausage, but in overall you will not find pork meats on the breakfast tables in Turkey. What you’ll find is beef sausage or bologna, mostly cold, mysterious and annoying.
Eggs: Boiled yumurta (egg) with yolks ranging from liquid to petrified may be placed out on breakfast buffets. If you see there are no eggs, ask for yumurta (yoo-moor-TAH). You can usually ask one boiled to order: three-minute is runny. Five-Minute is hard-boiled, the perfect boiled egg is kayısı (“apricot”)—everything soft but not liquid. In fact, you never know how it’ll come out, so you may favor fried eggs, or an omlet, even peynirli (with cheese).
Coffee: breakfast coffee is not usually Turkish coffee but French or American, meaning somewhat lighter, without the grounds hiding at the bottom of the cup. Or it may even be instant (mostly its Nescafe). Surprisingly, non-Turkish kahve is often a frustration, even in expensive places: often high but unusually fragrant, with a dark, roasted (rather than roasted) flavor. It’s a secret why. Good medium- and dark-roast coffee are sold in the markets, but brewing in the hotels often fails.
Tea: typically good traditional Turkish tea cooked super-strong and meant to be split with hot water to your wanted color and strength (1:4 or even 1:5). Traditionally served only with sugar, but lemon is often available for travelers. There will always be milk for the coffee on the buffet so you can surprise the waiters by adding some in your tea if you like.
There is so much for the Turkish breakfast. If your Turkish breakfast is not included in the price of your hotel room, you can walk out and breakfast freestyle on Su böreği, a big square multi-layered cake of baked pastry stuffed with white sheep’s-milk cheese and parsley.
Pastry shops (Pastane) have lots of biscuits, cakes, puddings, and sweet treats, sometimes with hot, fresh milk or sahlep (nice orchid-root-and-milk drink)—especially high in winter.
Or on-the-road breakfast—a steaming bowl of lentil soup (mercimek çorbası) with lots of fresh sourdough bread.