Turkey straddles Asia and Europe, and its cooking blends both worlds: Eastern aromatic spices mix with Mediterranean herbs.
Crash course: Dolma, which means "stuffed," is the key to decoding dishes such as dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and biber dolma (green pepper filled with spiced rice or meat). Kebab means "roasted"—skewered cubes of meat are called shish kebab, and döner kebab is layers of lamb stacked on a vertical rotating spit and sliced off in long, thin pieces as the exterior crisps. These dishes are accompanied by pilaf, a flavorful grain dish made with rice or bulgur (cracked wheat).
National specialty: Imam bayildi, a stuffed eggplant simmered in olive oil and so delicious that its name translates as "the imam [priest] fainted."
Try these recipes: