Around the World in 12 Plates: Turkey

All right, I confess. I didn’t cook at all in July. I was working on an archaeological dig, so Around the World in 12 Plates: Turkey has to take a different approach. Did you know I moonlight as an archaeologist? I spent my first season working at Çadır Höyük as a student in 2012, and I’ve been lucky enough to return two more times as an illustrator: Apparently I’m good at drawing pottery and ancient walls — who knew. For Around the World in 12 Plates: Turkey, I’m not going to tell you what I cooked because I didn’t cook! I’m going to tell you about what Satihanim made for us each and every day.

Satihanim’s kitchen

Satihanim and her husband Sadiq have been coming to the dig for almost 20 years. She spends all of her time cooking for us at dig house where we all live in the town of Peyniryemez, which translates to “we don’t like cheese,” an almost blasphemous uttering to those who know me.
The beaded curtains of her kitchen doors are always in motion — archaeologists come and go with small cups of tea, but the room attached to old schoolhouse serving as the kitchen is ruled by its culinary matriarch, Satihanim. She sits next to the white folding table in her flowered headscarf, peeling cloves of garlic into a pink plastic bowl or cutting cucumbers for her famous Cacık. She cooks three meals a day for the archaeologists, who come in from the fields of central Turkey dusty and ravenous. Lentil soup, manti, or stuffed peppers, and sliced watermelon — there is always watermelon in Sati’s kitchen.
Gabby and Sati at the dig

Three meals a day in the field

There are actually four meals consumed each day working at Çadır Höyük, and I was basically hungry all the time, so I ate a lot. Here’s how it all goes down.

First breakfast

Before we go out to the excavations in the early hours of the morning, we eat a quick and simple first breakfast. Tea and coffee, bread with creamy cheese or Çokokrem (Turkish Nutella). This meal is often consumed while hopping onto Sadiq’s van as he drives us out to the field.

Second breakfast

This is my favourite meal of the day, so much so I wrote a whole blog post about it two years ago. Read about it here. On days off, we are lucky enough to get menemen, a delicious egg dish made with stewed tomatoes, green peppers and oregano.


Lunch and dinner look very similar at the dig. Satihanim makes a variety of things: a stew made with fresh okra and tomatoes, manti with a rich yoghurt sauce or çiğ köfte, a vegetarian kofte made with bulgur. Stuffed peppers are always a favourite, and stuffed eggplant is welcomed with whoops of joy.

There is always çoban salatası (shepherd’s salad) with cucumber, tomato, greens and parsley with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and salt. There is always a giant vat of thick yoghurt to smother your food with deliciousness. There is always bread.

Dinner on the Dig


Carbs on carbs on carbs. It would not be strange to eat a meal with rice, potatoes and bread at the same time — sometimes there are french fries too. Like lunch, dinner is eaten together as we devour things like rich lentil soup, dolmas or meat kofte.

Eating dinner at the dig


While not a set meal, the Snackbox was instituted in the lab (the place where we do our non-field work) a few years ago. We pool money together to keep this treasure trove of treats mountainous at all times. Needless to say, I didn’t lose any weight on the dig. From paprika flavoured potato chips to chocolate covered brownies, the Turkish know how to snack.

Snackbox in Turkey

What everyone cooked for Around the World in 12 Plates: Turkey

Here’s all the awesome bloggers involved in Around the World in 12 Plates: Turkey. They actually cooked things!

Korena in the Kitchen made Simit

Bernice from Dish n’ the Kitchen made a full Turkish supper

Sugar Loves Spices whipped up one of my favourites, Gozleme!

11 thoughts on “Around the World in 12 Plates: Turkey”

  • wow! With all that food I would be hungry all the time too! What an experience. Sadly, I can’t eat eggplant but I would be eating everything else. What kind of bread did you usually have? I got addicted to the really long chewy bread, sometimes topped with black sesame seeds but I can’t find it in Calgary. Also, I seriously want some of that manti…do you know how to make it?

    • There are different types of bread, typically at the dig we ate long fat loaves of white bread! The really chewy bread is actually typically eaten during Ramadan because its unleavened, but you can also get it at some places! I asked the difference, but don’t really have names for them, it’s all bread to them haha
      The manti we usually eat at the dig didn’t have much filling, it was more pasta like and I know many people just buy them at the store, but I want to make my own at some point and stuff them! It’s my favourite Turkish food!

  • What a fantastic experience, Gabby! My brother has a degree in Archeologia but never worked on an archeological dig. He works in the post office in Rome nowadays. think about that 😉 ! That lady is amazing, she cooks for everybody 3 meals a day, and what meals! When I saw those stuffed eggplant I was drooling!! Thank you for taking us with you in this journey!

    • Thanks! That’s so cool about your brother 🙂 I feel very lucky I get to go and work there! Satihanim is the best and her food is so good, I don’t think other archaeological digs have it as good as we do 🙂

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