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MUSHROOM

Mushroom, also known as mantar in Turkish, are so different from other plants in nature, as they add flavor and zest to many dishes. The secret ingredient is the glutamate acid they contain, which is, in a sense, the natural form of the monosodium glutamate so commonly used as a flavor enhancer in Asian Pacific dishes.

Some mushroom varieties that grow in Turkey are not widely known, such as morels, chanterelles and underground mushrooms like white truffles. These are not sold in Turkish markets, but rather most of them are exported. Varieties of mushrooms that are consumed in Turkey’s rural areas, particularly in the Black Sea region, appear in autumn and have such names as tel teli, göknar kanlicasi, çam kanlicasi (içi kizil, kanlica çintar), boletus, mal kadin and cep.

These mushrooms, whose names differ from district to district, are consumed throughout the autumn season. They are rarely seen in city bazaars and only a few restaurants include them on their menus. In Istanbul, at the Sunday outdoor bazaars in Balat where people from the inner Black Sea area of Kastamonu live and in Kasimpasa neighborhood, you may encounter the kanlica and mal kadin varieties on sale. During the autumn if you look in the Aegean town bazaars, you may very well come across the abundant çintar mushrooms, as named by the Aegean people, but also known by Black Sea people as çam kanlicasi. This çintar, or çam kanlicasi, variety can also be found in Istanbul’s Fatih Forest around Beykoz and Çavusbasi. The fear of getting poisoned prevents most people from gathering and consuming these mushrooms. Therefore, domesticated mushrooms grown from the common cep variety are much preferred.

White truffles grow in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Each spring, enthusiasts wait impatiently for them to re-appear. Truffles are enjoyed very much by the villagers of the area, so they are not sold to other cities. The local truffle shish-kebaps are especially famous although they are also cooked in a stew.

Reference: Vedat Basaran/Skylife

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