Many Ghanaians who have travelled to Türkiye are quite familiar with some of popular Turkish dishes, especially the sumptuous kebabs and other tasty meat dishes. However, the Turkish Embassy in Ghana took a cross-section of Ghanaians on an amazing culinary journey that enabled us to truly appreciate the rich depth of Turkish traditional cuisine through three separate events organised in Accra as part of the maiden edition of Turkish Cuisine Week between 21st-27th May 2022.
The Turkish Cuisine Week, held under the auspices of Mrs. Emine Erdoğan, First Lady of the Republic of Türkiye, was organised not only in Ghana, but also in many countries around the world. The primary rationale of the events was to display the richness of Turkish Cuisine to a global audience. The focus is also to promote the main features of Turkish cuisine, namely healthy, zero-waste and traditional. These characteristics of the Turkish cuisine are all collected together in a selection of recipes in the newly published book entitled: ‘Turkish Cuisine with Timeless Recipes’.
In Ghana, three separate events were held by the embassy. The first event was a traditional Turkish coffee gathering to mark the significance of Turkish coffee tradition as a symbol of hospitality and friendship in the Turkish culture. Turkish coffee culture and tradition was registered on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on behalf of Türkiye in 2013.
The second event was held at the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on the 25th of May, which coincided with the Africa Day. The reception enabled the guests to taste Turkish food based on traditional recipes. The paramount event of the week was the gala dinner held at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel on 27th May. Both events were addressed by a video message from Mrs. Emine Erdogan, and the Ambassador, Dr. Özlem Ergün Ulueren.
The gala dinner itself was a brilliantly-organised culinary masterpiece. The event started with a mini workshop of a well-known delicacy ‘içli köfte’. The brief training had all guest very curious and excited.
The special guest of honour was our very own, incredibly graceful First Lady, H.E. Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo. Other notable guests included Mrs. Ayorkor-Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration; Mr. Okraku Mantey, Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture; several members of the Diplomatic Corps, Parliamentarians, several distinguished Ghanaian and Turkish high profile business people, and representatives of media houses and other guests.
After the mini-workshop, the ambassador delivered her main address. She educated the guests on the reasons for the diverse nature of Turkish cuisine. According to her, interactions among cuisines of different communities who lived together in the Ottoman Empire for centuries created a shared culinary heritage beyond Anatolia to the Balkans, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Thus, modern Turkish cuisine is a combination of Ottoman cuisine, Palace cuisines and the rich local cuisines of Anatolia, the homeland of the Turkish people.
She stressed that sustainability, both in the ecological and cultural context, was another prominent feature of the Turkish cuisine. According to her, every part of an ingredient is fully utilised while preparing Turkish meals, and that nothing gets wasted. She also mentioned that the Turkish cuisine is an antidote against the destructiveness of industrial food and thus, in tune with the global re-awakening toward healthy eating culture.
The menu consisted of stuffed vine leaves with sour cherries, artichokes braised in olive oil, braised fish with vegetables, lamb stew with velvety eggplant puree, and finally, quince dessert. All in all, it was an incredible night of education and fine dining, an experience like none other. It left guest with an indelible experience of Turkish culture and cuisine. As a guest myself for the events, I think I speak for all who attended, that I simply can’t wait for a similar experience next year.
The writer is the CEO, TurkAfriq.com