Next up on our culinary adventure is the land where east meets west and the two cultures collide head-on: Turkey. This Eurasian tourist hotspot is no slouch in the food department. When walking down the narrow and ancient streets, any visitor will be delightfully overwhelmed by the smell of Doner Kebab roasting on a giant, turning, vertical rotisserie. Their mouths will water at the Baklava towers piled high, fresh honey poured over-top and dripping slowly down. Finally, they might be overwhelmed by the 20 or more small plates of jams, meats, and cheeses brought out for Turkish breakfast. But, the most surprising culinary treat in Turkey is built around a common baked potato.
Active potato farming didn’t start in Turkey until 1872. However, today Turkey is known as the largest potato producer in the Middle East. Thanks to the climate, Turkey is the perfect place to grow giant sized potatoes, perfect for baking.
The Turkish Baked Potato, referred to as Kumpir, looks like a normal baked potato that someone has loaded with the selections from an all you can eat buffet. The potato is baked in a wood oven and then cut in half when it is still piping hot. Fresh string cheese and butter are piled into the middle of the potato. Then, the three ingredients are mixed with a knife, with more butter and cheese being added throughout this process. Finally, you are left with something that looks like extremely creamy mashed potatoes resting in a potato skin. Even if they stopped here, the Kumpir would be extremely delicious. But, Turkish people like to take the dish a step further – the Kumpir is then loaded with loads of delicious ingredients including spicy beef sausage, creamy garlic sauce, olives, red cabbage, hot sauce, pickles, mushrooms, and a lot more. All of it goes on the gooey and cheesy potato filling.
Kumpir is great because it is relatively simple, but really lets your imagination and taste buds run wild. Take a look at the video link to see a master Kumpir maker in action, and try one yourself tonight. Let us know what your favourite creation was.