Eat Local Cheese and Call It Turkish Breakfast

August 11, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Last Week’s Turkish Breakfast

If there’s something I really love in food, or at least in blogging about food, it’s Turkish breakfast; a little more background on this obsession here. I can whip up one without tomatoes in season, or use one as launching pad. Have I mentioned it’s also an excuse to eat cheese.

The other day I told you how good the Midwest did when it came to cheese, taking many of the top spots at the recent American Cheese Society contest. I used cheese as an example of something that’s local and really good. Here’s the thing. Do we eat it? Americans eat a lot of cheese. Well, I thought we ate a lot of cheese, but mostly crappy cheese or cheese in the forms of tuna melts and cheeseburgers.  A little research, and I see that, relatively speaking, we don’t even eat that much cheese. See, we don’t have the place for cheese in our meal systems. We use cheese as a condiment. It makes more palatable the crappy meat used in fast food. Or we use it to occupy us at networking events.  It dolls up broccoli and puts the twice in twice baked potatoes.  We seldom include a cheese course within a meal. We have a lot of great American cheeses these days to eat. We just do not know where to put them.

Put them in your Turkish breakfast, that’s the point of this post, but before I get there let me say one other thing. The food police keep us from having a lot of good cheese. The food police keep us, I believe, from making a better habit of a cheese course. Of course, on one level, the food police are keeping us from some of the great cheeses of the world, true brie’s and camemberts made with raw milk. I’m not taking about that. I’m talking about the fact that in a lot places, Chicago I’m looking right at you, you have to keep your cheese away before service. There are no cheese carts standing guard when you enter. A lot of places serve cheese, but they cannot really serve cheese. Plus, they lose the ability to tempt from a spectacular chariot de fromages. Let me also add that I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot chefs don’t so much wanna serve cheese as want an excuse to serve all the little doo-dads they come up with, their jams and conserves and such. You are mostly on your own for cheese.

Turkish breakfast may be the excuse to eat olives and tomatoes for breakfast, but it is really all about cheese. Turkish breakfast is all about cheese. Look at a menu for breakfast at a Turkish restaurant, and the first thing you will see will be cheeses. That’s cheeses, with a z. This menu, from Masal Cafe in Brooklyn includes feta Cheese, aged kashkaval cheese, braided cheese, labne, ricotta cheese, and blue cheese with their standard breakfast.  With my Turkish breakfasts, I like a similar range of cheeses going from soft and fresh like mozzarella to hard and rank like aged cheddar–there’s some Nordic Creamery five year cheddar hiding somewhere in the pic above.  Some of the cheeses should be soft and spreadable, others of substance.  As you would from the cheese cart, you cannot have just one cheese in your Turkish breakfast.  Pick some.  Any.  There are no shortage of great local cheeses for your Turkish breakfast.  It’s just up to you to make one.