Turkish Delight – Istanbul
If ever you need convincing that the Turkish like their sweets, a visit to the Egyptian Spice Market will do the job. Here you’ll find all types of dried fruits and sweets, the king of them being lokoum, or Turkish Delight. These heavenly sweets found their way into the Western world in the 19th century. It is believed that a British traveller to Turkey became very fond of the sweet and shipped cases home, calling his cargo Turkish Delight.
I was curious to find out the origin of the Turkish Delight and a google search threw up a story dating back to Ottoman times. It was believed that the sultan so wanted to please his many wives and therefore ordered his confectioner to create a unique sweet. Under pressure to create something that would please his Sultan, the confectioner blended a concoction of sugar syrup, various flavourings, nuts and dried fruits, then bound them together with an Arabic gum. After several attempts, this most delectable sweet emerged from the royal kitchens. The Sultan was very pleased with these delicious and mouth-watering little treats that he proclaimed the sweetmaker the court’s chief confectioner! And hence this is the story of how turkish delight came to be created. From there on, a plate of Turkish Delight was served at daily feasts in the Ottoman court. I think this is a great story and I’m happy to believe it.
There are so many varieties of Turkish Delight, including pistachio, hazelnut, almond, mint, etc. The lastest addition to this list of varieties includes one called Viagra. It is believed that Picasso enjoyed Turkish Delight daily to improve his concentration and Napoleon and Winston Churchill relished pistachio filled Turkish Delights.
Turkish Delights come in nice boxes and are a great gift for friends or family back home. However, beware that they can add a bit of weight to your luggage.