Far from the bustle of Europe’s most populated city, Istanbul, in central Turkey, time slows down. In the region of Cappadocia, villages are far apart, with a landscape of pointed caves, deep, rocky valleys and gorges between them. When it comes to food, marinated fruits, slow-cooked meats in clay pots (testis) and tender meat stews cooked over hours (even days) are on the menu, and bursting with flavour as the spices blend together. The transport? Hot-air balloons of course, for a slow appreciation of the chimney-sprinkled landscape.
Cappadocia is famous for its Testi Kebap, a dish which is thousands of years old. In wood-burning ovens, a clay pot filled with meat (usually lamb or beef), thyme, paprika, red pepper, bay leaves and fresh vegetables is sealed with bread dough and then cooked for hours. Then it is carried to the table, where the clay is smashed open, revealing a burst of aroma and incredibly tender meat.
And you’ll be eating off the intricately patterned ceramic plates with bold, eye-popping colours that the region is famous for, and take hours to craft. The same level of delicacy and care is put into the food, and the results are there to taste.
Another must-try food in Cappadicia is honey. With thousands of underground caves and valleys, honey bees thrive here and eating the raw honey produced by bees in the region is a must. Many dishes will use honey as a sweetener, so even if you can’t find it raw, tuck into some sugary pastries and deserts that the Turkish are famous for. Eating in Cappadocia in Central Anatolia, cut off from the rest of the world, gives you a chance to appreciate these earthy flavours and wind down to a new pace of life.
British Airways Highlife writer, Katie Gatens