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Food Culture of the Antalya Region and the Western Mediterranean

The cuisine of Antalya, originating in a rich past, benefits from its location nestled between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The tastes sourced from cool mountain forests, fertile plateaus and the deep sea blend together with historical culinary influences. Antalya’s culinary culture is a delight to explore.

The region produces a wide range of foods, some of which were once novelties brought in from faraway lands. Cuisine traditions from all cultures—the Neolithic period, Byzantine times, and the Seljuk and Ottoman Empires—have fused together to influence the tastes we enjoy today. 

During the Ottoman period, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural structure of society added diversity to the cuisine. Certain food-related religious restrictions were reflected in the cooking of different communities, and yet a common food culture was still shared by all groups. The town of Antalya was administratively connected to the state of Konya, and this connection also showed its influences in cookery. The cuisines of Mediterranean Antalya, and those of the completely land locked Konya, show amazing similarities, having shared this close contact.

The route connecting these two cities had been active across the centuries. During the Roman times ships from Alexandria, Cyprus, and Syria brought goods to the shores of Anatolia, which were then transported inland by this route. Antalya has been at the crossroads of this traffic, receiving influences from Arab and African cultures. The influence of Greek culture however, does not come from Greeks that lived here, but from Turks who came from the Greek islands as part of the population exchange between the two countries.

One major feature of Antalya cookery derives from the nomadic Yörük culture of the Taurus Mountains. Antalya cookery carries all those qualities and influences, yet maintains the general characteristics of Turkish cuisine.

Around the environs of Antalya, every settlement shows distinct culinary features according to its location and cultural roots. The coastal settlements of Side, Alanya, Finike, Kaş, and Kalkan bear Mediterranean characteristics, while towns like Akseki, İbradi, Korkuteli, and Elmalı, located in highlands, reflect the elements of mountain life.  Worth exploring are the connections between the historical-contemporary regional food cultures, as in the example of Sagalassos-Ağlasun. On the other hand, the Lake Region demonstrates a completely different culinary scene, with the cities of Burdur and Isparta, sharing the same culinary style as inland Anatolia