Morsels and Mouthfuls
It may be the ancestor to my beloved jelly beans and for that alone, one has to appreciate and give thanks to the sweet snack from Turkey. Turkish Delight has a rich history, dating back nearly 250 years. Today, the delicacy has been embraced around the world. Here are some notes of interest as we stop for a quick bite in our Around the World tour:
Some stories say that Turkish Delight was created by a powerful sultan for the purpose of enticing his many mistresses. After all, the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach… come on fellas, we all know this to be true. Anyway, the sultan had his kitchen staff prepare the gelatinous dessert and the rest is history. Or is it? Another fable has the treat being created as royal chefs competed for the attention of the sultan, with one cook creating what is now known as Turkish Delight.
The more plausible tale involves a sweet maker named Bekir Efendi moving his operation to Istanbul in 1776 and capitalizing on the notorious sweet tooth of Turkish citizens. Efendi’s Turkish Delights became the hottest item to have, a symbol of wealth and upper class standing. The pleasures were even exchanged by couples as token of love.
Once Efendi’s confections hit the royal palace and the sultan’s mouth, the popularity of the item skyrocketed. Efendi’s store still exists, with new recipes being dreamt up all the time, some including pistachios, walnuts, chocolate, and oranges.
From the thriving businesses of Turkey, the Delights have gained a fan base around the world:
Known as lokma (morsel), lokum (mouthful), and rahat-ul hulkum (comfort of the throat) in Turkey, the origins of the name Turkish Delight are said to trace back to a British man, who fell in love with the dessert during visits to Istanbul and purchased cases of the product to be shipped back home under the label ‘Turkish Delight’. It spread throughout Europe’s upper class, being exchanged as presents wrapped in silk handkerchiefs. The treat has also been known as ‘Lumps of Delight,’ long before the Black Eyed Peas forever changed what we thought of when we heard the term lumps.
Across the commonwealth, in places like the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, folks can also get their sweet fix with Fry’s Turkish Delight by Cadbury, although the product varies from the traditional creation.
Turkish Delight is known as rahat in Romania, but because Turkish words were altered to be more harsh, if not entirely eliminated from Romanian language, the term translates to meaning “shit”. Just be cautious, if ever in the country, to not beg for a sweet mouthful of rahat, or else you may find yourself the literal butt of a joke.
In the United States, two Armenian immigrants began manufacturing Aplets and Cotlets in 1930. The Turkish Delight used apples and apricots, respectively with walnuts. In 1984, their Liberty Orchards company based out of Cashmere, Washington added a Fruit Delights line, with strawberry, raspberry, orange, blueberry, peach, cranberry, and pineapple flavours. In recent years, Liberty Orchards has also released more traditional flavours, such as rose-pistachio, orange-blossom-walnut, and rose-lemon. Mrs. Sip and I have been to their factory, along with many trips as a wee little sipper with Ma and Pa Sip. It’s a quaint little place with so many free samples to gorge yourself on and a tour of the production line.
At home, here in Canada, you can get the Nestle chocolate bar Big Turk, which is a delicious blend of pink Turkish Delight and chocolate. Most Bridge Mix packs also contain red and green Turkish Delight balls, along with chocolate-covered peanuts, raisins, almonds, and the other usual suspects.
Turkish Delight is also popular in Greece and Brazil, stretching the treat’s influence around the world.
Its most recognized use in pop culture is in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which sees the character of Edmund Pevensie dying as a result of his addiction to the confection. Despite what some would view as a negative connotation, sales for the product went up after the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia was released. Clearly, people are stupid, so let’s have a drink in their honour and sample some Turkish Delight!
Turkey: Siege of Constantinople
- 1.5 oz Raki
- 0.5 oz Vodka
- Top with Tonic Water
- Splash of Chile Syrup
- Dash of Simple Syrup
- Dash of Orange Bitters
- Garnish with Orange Zest
In its native land, Turkish Delight is often served with the equally revered Turkish Coffee, but I don’t swing that way, so let’s booze it up instead and finish off an entire box of the dessert before we even realize what’s happening!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I was very curious as to how the Raki and Tonic Water in particular would mix together. It wasn’t as bad as some may fear and when you add the other touches, such as the Chile Syrup and Orange Bitters, you have the making of a unique and interesting cocktail that may not be for everyone, but deserves a chance from those brave enough to experiment.