"Bread is the indispensable staple food of our tables. As Turks originated from a nomadic lifestyle, bread was at the center of their lives, it is a cultural icon," local baker Osman Atak told Xinhua.
by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Eaten daily in all shapes and sizes, bread has been central to Turkish cuisine for millennia, and indispensable to daily life in modern Türkiye.
Bread is made in a wide variety and differs from one place to another in the country. Some even make desserts with it, such as the Turkish bread pudding in syrup, a delicious specialty popular among the locals.
Nowadays, Turks eat bread with almost everything, or at every meal, giving the staple food with full respect by wasting none, and buying local.
In each region, and often every bakery, the secrets for baking perfect bread are passed down from one generation of bakers to the next.
Osman Atak, a 34-year-old bakery owner and a bread expert from Türkiye's capital city Ankara, is one of them.
His bakery is open 24 hours a day and produces about 3,500 loaves of bread on a daily basis.
"Bread is the indispensable staple food of our tables. As Turks originated from a nomadic lifestyle, bread was at the center of their lives, it is a cultural icon," he told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Atak explained that Turks were eating mostly flatbreads made from white wheat flour, and progressively bakeries started to produce whole grain and rye bread for the consumers.
The sweet smell of fresh bread is comforting and lures you to the bakery located in the lakeside district of Golbasi where master bakers are at their daily work of providing bread for the neighborhood.
"We Turks, if we do not eat bread at a meal, we don't feel full, therefore bread is the most important item on the table," said Sehnaz Turna, a seamstress who bought the daily bread of the family at the bakery.
The most popular bread is the pointy-tipped, boat-shaped "somum" bread with a distinctive slash in the center. This soft and fluffy traditional white bread is available in every bakery.
Another staple bread is Turkish "pide" bread, which is served warmly with soups. It's a chewy bread that can dip in sauces or in soups to the taste.
Cornbread is another option and the best is said to come from the Black Sea where they produce many varieties, some with cheese, herbs, or even anchovies, a local delicacy, cooked into the dough.
Donating bread has special importance in Türkiye, as it bears the meaning of helping sustain people's life.
"Bread is also at the center of charity, we have the 'bread on the hook' tradition, this is when a customer purchases two loaves and pays for three. The third one will go to the poor ... This is a social solidarity drive," Osman Atak said, referring to the traditional symbol of bread hanging from a hook shown in local bakeries encouraging people to pay for the poor's food.
"Bread has a unifying factor, it brings together the wealthy and poor people, it brings them to the same level," the baker added.