Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Turkish Delight

Until we visited Turkey, the only time I'd ever heard of Turkish Delight was in  C. S. Lewis's book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, where the White Witch gives it go Edmund to convince him to be on her side. Edmund certainly enjoyed it, but what was it? Well, as we entered the Spice Market in Istanbul we were inundated with Turkish Delight at every turn. Most of what we saw  looked like semi-translucent squares of firm jello dusted with powdered sugar.  See trays full of different kinds below.
I must admit that, unlike Edmund, it did not call out to me. Of course, after tasting much of it I am convinced Edmund only liked it because it had been bewitched.

Turkish Delight was originally known as Lokum, produced in Turkey since the 15th century. It consisted of honey, molasses, water, flour and often other additions such as chopped dates, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts. In the 19th century, an Englishman shipped cases of it back to Britain under the name Turkish Delight and it became a delicacy in Britain and Europe. In the West, it tends to be more sugary, soft and jelly-like, flavored with rosewater, mastic or lemon. It is usually packaged in small cubes and dusted with icing sugar, copra or powdered cream of Tartar to prevent it from clinging. 

Once we made the fateful decision to stop and get sucked in by one particularly talented vender in the Spice Market, we spent quite a bit of time tasting his various food items, including various types of Turkish Delight. We tried various types of the common stuff and I was not impressed. I think I actually would have liked it better if it had been sweeter. I don't think what we had was dusted with powered sugar, but some other substance like copra that is not sweet. I actually think powdered sugar might be nice. However, the vender then introduced us to a more premium kind, one made with honey that was chock full of pistachios. It was a little less sweet, but much better and I just happen to love pistachios. We ended up buying a box of our two favorite types,
pomegranite with pistachios, with a distinctive red color, which came in rolls kind of like uncut sweet rolls,
and pistachio, which was cute into cubes. See pieces of both kinds cut open below.
We brought it home with us and two and a half weeks later it had hardened a bit and was not quite as good, but it still was not bad. In fact, it is kind of addictive. Perhaps Edmund was given that kind? 


  1. Interesting, kind of looks like ancient snickers bar but without the chocolate.

  2. The one time I had Turkish Delight (also thinking of Edmund) I was not impressed. I was also grateful I didn't live in his era if this is what passed for a super special treat!!

  3. There aren't many desserts outside of the chocolate world that I love, but I love Turkish delight. Perhaps part of the attraction is being IN Turkey to eat it, but it is pretty good stuff.

  4. I like that yours and Judy's posts go hand in hand. You two ought to think about taking up announcing for a local sports team--one to do the play by play and one to do the "color."

    This square one looks somewhat similar to some candy that we had in Italy, but really, the red one is quite different. Interesting.