Five Foods to Try at the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival
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.
"Turkish 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 experience."
"Gözleme 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."
"Kunefe 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 this year."
"Long 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."
The Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival at the OC Fairgrouds, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa. Oct. 6-9, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. $12. Find more information here.