In this Turkish Cuisine video, Martha Soffer remembers Turkish sites and flavors.
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Janine Aloisi: Our guest of the week is Martha Soffer who resides in Manhattan and works for the United States Small Business Administration Office. Recently, she took a trip to Turkey and was quite taken with the warmth of the Turkish people and very impressed with Turkish cuisine and Turkish tea. We had a chance to catch up with her in her Upper East Side neighborhood. Let’s take a look.
Martha Soffer: I’m very interested in Turkish culture and I’ve been so for about over 20 years. When I was in graduate school, I had a lot of Turkish friends and I was very impressed with them. I was very impressed with their personalities and their character. I love their music and that was my first introduction to Turkish food and Turkish culture. I’ve never lost my interest and I’ve developed it over the years.
I’ve spent over a week in Istanbul and then I took a tour around Western Turkey where I visited Ankara and Conia, the Cappadocia area, in Antalya and Izmir. What I like most about Turkey was the people, the kindness, the respect they have for each other and for me as a foreign woman traveling in as an American and the culture and I loved food.
What I like about Turkish food is that it’s a pure healthy food. The ingredients, everything is fresh, made with a lot of olive oil but not overly oil, nicely spiced without being spicy. It’s just good healthy as I would call it “Good, healthy Mediterranean cuisine” but it’s unique and it has a lot of vegetable dishes and a lot of fish. I don’t eat meat. Going to Turkey is an absolute vegetarian’s delight, especially they eat fish. That really adds to it because you’ll never go hungry.
My favorite vegetable dishes from Turkish cuisine are definitely the eggplant-based dishes, the eggplant and tomato-based dishes, the chickpeas, the different beans. The rice is incredible. The rice that you have in Turkey is different and I hope I could find that type of rice here; the different sheep and goat cheeses. It’s a healthy cuisine. It’s fulfilling. The Turkish breakfast is so special.
Since I’ve been back, I eat a Turkish breakfast every single day and the reason why it’s special for many purposes, number one is it’s healthy. You have olives. You have cheese, a little bit of protein, a little bit of oil, some bread, tomatoes, some vegetable and tea.
Turkish coffee was made well. It’s so wonderful. The trouble with Turkish coffee is even in Turkey; very few restaurants really know how to make it well. I imagine the more you have to go to someone’s home to make it properly but the Turkish coffee that is made properly is definitely the best coffee in the world.
For the past few years, I’ve been establishing a relationship with the Turkish community in the New York area. It started through my work. I do work for the Small Business Administration, the SBA. Through my work, I attended a Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce event where I was invited to speak about the SBA at the Turkish Consulate.
If some of my friends come to me and tell me they were thinking about going to Turkey, I would say “Beyond the shadow of a doubt, go to Turkey. You will not be disappointed.” There is something there for everybody. The Turks have rich, historical culture. They are respectful. They are kind. They are nice. It’s safe. I as a woman alone felt completely safe and definitely, everyone should go to Turkey.