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Old 07-07-2017, 07:27 AM   #1
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The Food of the Imperial Ottoman Kitchens

This is a wonderful article about the origins and development of the foods of the Sultan's kitchens. It includes descriptions of many of the dishes we've discussed here recently, like rice pilaf and stuffed peppers. This kind of stuff fascinates me.

It also describes how the kitchens of the Topkapi Imperial Palace in Istanbul operated. I visited Turkey in 2001 and we stayed in Istanbul in a house-turned-hotel along the outside wall of the palace. Absolutely gorgeous. I should look for those pictures.

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The imperial kitchen quarters extended well beyond the great domed chambers, each of which was devoted to particular specialties, such as the making of sweets, pickles, and cures. There were pantries and storerooms and offices for the team of clerks who kept meticulous records of what was bought, and how much was spent. Hundreds of men, commanded by sixty specialty chefs, lived and worked here, feeding up to ten thousand people a day. The soup, the pilaf, the*helva, the vegetable dishes, meats, breads, pastries were each produced by a master chef, with as many as a hundred apprentices. They had their own dormitories, a fountain, a mosque, and a hamman where they could bathe...

The city lay at the confluence of many currents of trade, drawn across an empire that stretched from the Balkans to Egypt, and from the borders of Georgia to the Adriatic. Egypt was the Ottoman’s granary. Anatolia was their fruit bowl. The mountain pastures of Europe and Asia provided them with sweet mutton and cheese. Every region had its specialty, like the delicate and delicious trout of Lake Ohrid, on the border between Macedonia and Albania, which were carried overland, live, to Topkapi Palace for the sultan’s feasts. The best of everything arrived there in its season—watermelon and green onions from Bursa, figs from the Aegean coast, fruit from the Black Sea. Vegetables came from market gardens snuggled up beneath the ancient Byzantine walls, within living memory, and different districts of the city became famous for certain products, like the clotted cream of Eyüp, or the flaky pastries of Karaköy. Meanwhile, the finest garlic came from İzmit, lemons from Mersin, cheeses in skins from the mountains of Moldavia. This was an imperial palace in a city of imperial appetite, and not for nothing has the palace cookery of Istanbul been defined along with the Chinese and the French as one of the three great food cultures of the world.
The Imperial Kitchen | Lapham's Quarterly
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Old 07-07-2017, 11:13 AM   #2
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Good Reading GG, thanks!
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Old 07-07-2017, 01:23 PM   #3
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We were fortunate to visit kitchens of the Topkapi Imperial Palace in Istanbul on our wedding cruise in 2007. I was amazed by those massive kitchens and the size of all of the cooking pots! Pictures just can't give you a perspective of how huge they are!!
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:22 PM   #4
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We were fortunate to visit kitchens of the Topkapi Imperial Palace in Istanbul on our wedding cruise in 2007. I was amazed by those massive kitchens and the size of all of the cooking pots! Pictures just can't give you a perspective of how huge they are!!
Here are a couple of shots of the kitchen
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Old 07-08-2017, 02:09 AM   #5
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Wow, GG, that sounds like quite a set-up! I'm always surprised at how advanced cooking facilities were back in what I consider less-advanced civilizations. When I read the book about King Tut, I learned so much about how advanced they were with cooking, etc.

Over the last year or two Himself has been busy watching Youtube shows by James Towsend, a colonial reenactor supplier. He has a good number of cooking episodes that fascinate Himself. I told him I am not going to start cooking some of those things!

Meanwhile, I used to watch Chef Walter Staib's series "A Taste of History" that was aired on RI PBS. Again, fascinating but I'm not going to cook like that. Sadly, neither RI or Boston show them anymore. I never thing to go online to watch them either. First I need more hours in a day.


BTW, nice photos, Sous. How big is that Dutch oven that is perched on the cinder blocks? I'm guessing about 12 quarts.
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Old 07-08-2017, 03:29 AM   #6
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Thank you for posting. Fascinating Reading.

I travelled to Turkey in early 1990s and go to Greece approximately every 2 years, as I have a dear friend on the island of Skiatos. I had travelled to Transylvania, Romania, and Moldavia in March 2016.

Many northwestern Europeans and North Americans have never travelled through this región .. It has an incredible food culture steeped profoundly in Turkish and Roman history. Their goat cheese is a delicacy .. And quite surprisingly wonderful are their wines ..

Have a nice weekend.
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Old 07-08-2017, 04:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cooking Goddess View Post
.


BTW, nice photos, Sous. How big is that Dutch oven that is perched on the cinder blocks? I'm guessing about 12 quarts.
That was one of the "little" pots CG!! I wish he had taken pictures of the big ones, as some were 20 times that size.
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Old 07-08-2017, 09:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cooking Goddess View Post
Wow, GG, that sounds like quite a set-up! I'm always surprised at how advanced cooking facilities were back in what I consider less-advanced civilizations. When I read the book about King Tut, I learned so much about how advanced they were with cooking, etc.
The Ottoman Empire less advanced? No, it's quite amazing what people can accomplish when they have endless numbers of slaves

And that was only 500 years ago. You really should read "Feast of Sorrow" by Crystal King. It's a novel about Apicius, the court epicure of ancient Rome - two thousand years ago. It describes this aristocrat's everyday food, dinner parties and banquets. Absolutely fascinating reading. I kept track of the words that were new to me and have a list of almost 40.

A review: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/...s-and-intrigue



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Over the last year or two Himself has been busy watching Youtube shows by James Towsend, a colonial reenactor supplier. He has a good number of cooking episodes that fascinate Himself. I told him I am not going to start cooking some of those things!
I have a recipe for sheep stew that was a fundraiser for the town where my mother grew up. It starts with, "Two days ahead, make bread for crumbs. One day ahead, slaughter (eight) sheep. Chill overnight."

My mom and my aunt both said they hated it. It was smelly and greasy but it always sold out
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Old 07-08-2017, 09:32 AM   #9
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Sous, thanks for posting those great photos. It's a fascinating place.
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Old 07-08-2017, 01:35 PM   #10
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Here are more images of the cooking pots at Topkapi.
https://www.google.com/search?q=cook...hnPEpy8JsFedM:
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