A couple years ago, when I started shooting for my forthcoming cookbook, Istanbul and Beyond, I was surprised to discover that, despite the popular conception of a huge selection of bready things, jams, preserves, honey and -kaymak, olives and vegetables, and eggs, there is really no such thing as the Turkish breakfast.
Turkey comprises many regional cuisines based on seasonal and hyper-local ingredients. In Şanlıurfa, an autumn breakfast often includes recently harvested isot peppers, roasted in the oven. In Van, there’s always otlu peynir (sheep’s milk cheese made with wild herbs that are foraged in spring) on the table. A Diyarbakır breakfast means eggs cooked with boiled beef or lamb that’s been shredded and packed in fat or butter—a traditional way of preserving meat through the winter. In Hatay, bordering Syria, you get local olive oil sprinkled with spices for dipping bread. And in Tokat, every meal, breakfast included, features the distinctive local sourdough bread.