Thursday, April 28, 2011

Of course, most regions in Turkey are known for a special cuisine, with those delicacies sometimes depending on the season.

And yes, Edirne has its own distinct culinary specialties. The one that most Turks practically swoon over is ciğer - fried liver. The city is filled with small restaurants selling nothing but this dish and maybe 1 or 2 other menu items if you are lucky. As quoted on Istanbul Eats, “the name Edirne is simply synonymous with liver.”

Now, I’m sure some of you might turn up your nose at offal, but not me, generally. I grew up in a Midwest home where fried liver and onions cooked in an ancient cast-iron skillet was the norm. This is still one of my dad’s favorite dishes.

In Edirne, the ciğer is thinly sliced, dredged in flour, dropped inside a cauldron full of boiling vegetable oil and then deep fried until crisp. The plate of liver is served on top a paper towel (to soak up the grease) and with a side dish of hot crunchy peppers and blazing hot sauce. We enjoyed our plate of ciğer at Edirne Ciğercisi Kemal Usta, located right outside the Ali Paşa Bazaar.
Fried liver is best shared!
Not for the faint of heart!
We had been told the ciğer is best eaten with ayran, a salty yogurt drink, because it’s helps suppress the fire raging on your palate from the hot sauce and fried peppers. And they were right! I’d also recommend eating the ciğer with the unlimited basket of fresh bread that arrives on your table.

The second culinary speciality of Edirne is badem ezmesi - the famous marzipan. This Turkish candy is made from almonds, water and sugar.

A small box of badem ezemsi sells for 8 TL.
Several stores sell this Turkish delight, but we purchased ours from one of the long-time establishments, Keçecizade.

The third specialty of Edirne is not edible, but they look like they could be. Vendors display boxes full of these colorfully decorated and scented soaps that look exactly like different fruits. 
You can find these at any of the small markets or bazaars. Most pieces sell for only 1 TL, but I’ve seen the same ones sold here in Istanbul for 4 TL each! You can also get a basket of “mixed fruits” for the bargain price of about 5 TL.

If you travel to Edirne, be sure to treat yourself to these three regional specialities.

Edirne Ciğercisi Kemal Usta, Mithatpaşa Mh., Ortakapı Caddesi 3

Keçecizade, Hükümet Cad. 5. As well as inside the Selimiye Mosque’s Çarşısı and several other locations in Edirne.

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