Thursday, December 15, 2011

2,000-year-old cuisine to attract tourists

2,000-year-old cuisine to attract tourists

And now a hotel in Antalya's historical Kaleiçi district has decided to draw in tourists by offering up some of these ancient tastes, cooked up in earthenware similar to that found during the time of the Roman Empire.

An experimental archeological project run by Professor Taner Korkut as part of the AU department of archeology master's program has focused studies on the kitchen cuisine of the ancient Roman period. The first stage of the two-part project was to look into earthenware pots used in the cooking of Roman Empire-era foods. In addition to this, using sources on this era, studies were done on menus from this time, and how they might be used in modern times. During the implementation part of the project, artist Taner Dağıstanlı created copies of some of the cooking pots and serving utensils used during the Roman Empire. As a result of a series of experiments with cooking various recipes in ceramic pots and cookware, some interesting food samples reflecting more ancient styles of cuisine were achieved.

The first pressure cooker

One presentation of "antique" foods took place at a hotel in Kaleiçi, where the meal was prepared using ceramic earthenware over an open fire. The food was then consumed using plates modeled after the type that would have been found during the Roman Empire along with forks and spoons made of wood. One of the main dishes, "dana yahni" or "beef stew" was cooked in what is basically a pressure cooker from 2,000 years ago. Professor Korkut, while noting that the first pressure cooker was in fact invented around A.D. 1630, says that a different style of even older pressure cooker was actually discovered during archeological excavations in Patara, dating this vital piece of cookware to around 100 B.C.

Looks likely to draw in tourism

AU Rector Mustafa Akaydın attended the meal at the Kaleiçi hotel and talked about the excitement surrounding this project. Professor Akaydın said that not only did he really enjoy the food but that he thought it could be used to draw in further tourism to the region. Professor Korkut said that not only was the project achieving the goal of finding out different tastes present in the region going back 2,000 years, but that these tastes were in fact still a part of the soil that Turkey encompasses. He commented: "These foods that have been prepared are a part of our past. We should try to use the preparation of these meals of foods that were popular in and around Antalya during the Roman Empire to widen tourism here." Professor Korkut pointed to how well both the French and the Italians "market" their cuisine to the rest of the world, asserting that the uncovering and using of these ancient menus could bring a different sort of prestige to Antalya's tourism in the future.

At the trial Kaleiçi meal, curious guests were offered wine and grape juice while their palates were tempted by salad with cheese, cabbage, an olive appetizer and special bread. The food cooked in earthenware over an open fire included chicken dolmas with olives and the beef stew mentioned earlier, cooked in a close imitation of the earliest pressure cooker ever discovered.