Turkey lies at an ancient crossroads of many cultures and empires — Persian, Greek, Roman, Arab, British. The Anatolian peninsula was the center of its own Ottoman Empire for the best part of 600 years. All these influences come together in Turkish cuisine, which is both Mediterranean and Central Asian in nature.
Numerous small dishes and salads, called mezes, are eaten individually as snacks or in numbers as a nutritious meal. Grilled meats and fish lend their smoky flavors to the Turkish table. Olive oil is used lavishly. Yogurt is put to work as a condiment, in sauces, and even as a base for soups. Strong Turkish coffee goes well with honey-sweetened pastries.