Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the OC Fairgrounds this week for the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival, an educational extravaganza that celebrates “Turkey's heartland.” The setting is painstakingly authentic, from the historic gates to Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.
With 99 types of food available, we asked Ibrahim Barlas, president of festival sponsor Pacifica Institute, to navigate us through the aisles. Here are five foods to not miss.
coffee is the opposite of a grande latte. It's served short and usually
sweet, sometimes with a hint of mastic, which gives it an exotic aroma.
It's never laced with cream or milk and has been prepared the same way
for hundreds of years, ever since the Sultans began to import it from
Lebanon. Sitting down with a friend over a Turkish coffee is often the
most satisfying time in a day, and festivalgoers simply couldn't get
enough of our traditional coffeehouse last year. This year, organizers
have added a second coffeehouse so everyone can have that special
lines at manti stands never trickled off. These bowls of small handmade
dumplings stuffed with meat and topped with yoghurt and a tomato sauce
are simply irresistible. This year, Charles Perry, a historian and
former Los Angeles Times food writer, will share his riveting research into the history and cultural significance of manti and other Turkish pastas.”
is a type of Turkish quesadilla made from hand-rolled yufka or philo
pastry. It's another popular food that is deceptively simple. The recipe
just calls for flour, water, a dash of oil and salt. The stuffing is
usually feta, fresh herbs and spinach or ground beef. But rolling out a
perfect sheet of yufka is a fine art that can take years to get right.”
is a spectacular blend of sweet syrup, crispy shredded pastry and a
salty cheese filling. It has to be made to order and served warm, much
like a soufflé, for the full effect. It's the kind of dessert that is
sure to bring out the selfish glutton in all of us. Kunefe is said to
originate from the city of Hatay, which is a participant at the festival
before goldfish crackers and popcorn were invented, Turks used to munch
another salty, crunchy snack made from seasoned, roasted chickpeas.
There are two main types of Leblebi: yellow (hulled) and white (not hulled). Many Turks can make an entire bowl vanish in a matter of
seconds, and of course, there are spicy, salty or sweet variations to
please every palate. Corum, the place of origin of the Leblebi, is
another city on display at the festival this year.”