Blended with herbs, olive oil dishes, and seafood, and enriched with tastes of different cultures lived in the city for centuries, Aegean cuisine is amongst the hallmarks of healthy life in İzmir.
In short, it is the cuisine of healthy and delicious food blended with the food and beverage culture of Cretan, Albanian, Thessaloniki and Bosnians who came to the city by exchange or migration, Sephardic Jews who have been living here for 500 years, Levantines whose roots reaches out to Europe, Greeks, Armenians, and, of course, the people who was born and raised in Izmir.
Fertile soils that grow thousands of different herbs, vegetables, and fruit whether it's spring or winter, pure seas inhabited by various kinds of fish and seafood, and olive, nature's biggest gift to Aegean, and its curative juice, olive oil, have been the main actors of Aegean cuisine for centuries.
Delicious, curative products that are grown in fertile plains getting sunlight 300 days a year are blended affectionately, deftly and expertly in the hands of the people of a happy city.
Olive oil, the main actor of the Aegean cuisine, has also traveled to distant lands in amphorae that are specially designed in ancient times, along with wines made out of grapes of Aegean plains. Back then, grape and wine were so blessed that the largest temple of the ancient world was built in Seferihisar Teos on behalf of Dionysus, the god of wine.
On the other hand, Urla, the ancient city of Klazomenai, hosted the world's oldest olive oil workshop in the 6th century BC. This is also an indication of the fact that the people of this region knew olive oil's benefits and discovered the secret of a healthy diet.
Street food that you encounter frequently in İzmir should be kept in mind as well. "Kumru," "boyoz," "lokma," mussel, "kokoreç," and "söğüş" are the alternatives for those looking for a different taste.
İzmir, a member city of World Gourmet Cities Network (DELICE)
İzmir is a member of the World Gourmet Cities Network (DELICE), a network with 22 cities from different parts of the world. Became a member in 2015, İzmir is the 23rd city in the network. A platform of communication and exchange for expert chefs and cities in terms of gastronomy, DELICE's operations consist of urban marketing, education and transfer, local products, health and nourishment, and chef training.
İzmir has become a member of the network to transfer its experiences with its multi-cultural Aegean cuisine that is a reflection of a history of thousands of years, having the characteristics of various cultures.
The members of World Gourmet Cities Network, a platform of communication among expert chefs and cities in terms of gastronomy, include Aarhus (Denmark), Barcelona (Spain), Birmingham (United Kingdom), Bordeaux (France), Brussels (Belgium), Cape Winelands (South Africa), Gothenburg (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland), Izmir (Turkey), Lozan (Switzerland), Leipzig (Germany), Lisbon (Portuguese), Lyon (France), Madrid (Spain), Montreal (Canada), Osaka (Japan), Puebla (Mexico), Rabat (Morocco), Riga (Latonia), Saint Louis (United States), Stavanger (Norway), Chicago (United Stated), and Torino (Italy).
Kemeraltı Bazaar: For a rendezvous with various tastes
Today, one of the places where you can find the unique tastes of the İzmir cuisine outside houses is the Historic Kemeraltı Bazaar. Inside the inns within the bazaar, the small restaurants that are hard to find in the narrow streets serve delicious Izmir dishes and salads to their customers, Here, the Eastern Anatolian dishes consisting of "lahmacun," kebab and spicy food give place to lighter dishes made with olive oil, meat, and vegetables, plain herb roasting or boiled food made with lemon and olive oil.