A Sweet Journey Through Turkey: The Tradition of Baklava

A Sweet Journey Through Turkey: The Tradition of Baklava

If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, there’s one thing you must add to your culinary bucket list: Baklava. This sweet, layered pastry is more than just a dessert; it’s a piece of Turkish history, culture, and tradition.

The Origins of Baklava

The roots of baklava trace back to the ancient Assyrian Empire, where people arranged unleavened flatbreads in layers with chopped nuts in between. However, the baklava we know and love today came into existence about 500 years ago, during the Ottoman Empire.

The Art of Making Baklava

Baklava is a labor of love, requiring skill and patience. The traditional Turkish method involves rolling out yufka (a type of dough) using an oklava, a long, slender rolling pin. “Baklava is made by thinning the dough to a fine micro-degree, and by putting 10 or 11 layers on top of each other by hand,” says Efkan Güllü, the current owner of Güllüoglu Baklava, a famed bakery based in Gaziantep, Turkey. This process requires a long education and is not conducive to automation.

The Cultural Significance

Historically, baklava was saved for festive occasions due to the skill required to make it, as well as the high price of key ingredients such as honey, sugar, and nuts. In Ottoman times, Baklava was an “almost sacred” part of Ramadan. It was also a feature of grand dinners given by the upper classes throughout the Ottoman Empire.

The Baklava Adventure for Travelers

As a traveler, you have the unique opportunity to taste the different varieties of baklava available in Turkey. Each has its unique taste, so don’t limit yourself to just one type. Remember, freshness matters. Try to buy from a bakery that makes it daily. And don’t forget to pair it with Turkish tea. The slight bitterness of the tea complements the sweetness of the baklava.

Some of the best places to try baklava in Turkey include Karakoy Gulluoglu, Hamdi Restaurant, Anteplioğlu Baklava, Köşkeroğlu Baklava, and Hafız Mustafa 1864 Sirkeci. Each of these places offers a unique baklava experience that you won’t want to miss.

The Baklava Festival

While there may not be a specific festival dedicated solely to baklava, it is a staple during significant celebrations and festive occasions such as weddings and the Eid holidays, symbolizing sweetness and joy. So, if you’re visiting Turkey during these times, you’ll likely get to experience the joy of baklava in its full cultural context.

In conclusion, baklava is more than just a dessert; it’s a journey through Turkish history and culture. So, when you visit Turkey, make sure to take a bite of this sweet tradition. Enjoy your baklava adventure in Turkey!

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