Whenever you decide to visit a new place, one of the first things you do is to log in on the World Wide Web and search for the places to see and top restaurants to eat. It is normal to think that the restaurants that are loved and highly rated by others before are worth trying but if you really want to get into the soul of a city via its culinary arts, you need to seek out the hidden corners. Located in southern Turkey, Adana, the city famous for its culinary wonders, is one of the cities that you can only understand in full if you wander around its streets like a local.
Divided into two by the Ceyhan River, Adana is a unique place. Apart from its natural and historical beauty, thanks to its geographical position and hosting numerous civilizations throughout history, it has become a city that truly has its own identity.
However, Adana is not just another pretty face: this city of gourmets pulses with its culinary arts, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists every year just to taste its delicious foods. Standing right at the junction point of various cultures and civilizations, Adana has become a melting pot of colorful cultures and foods. Mixing the Mediterranean’s green and the East’s colorful spices, this jewel of southern Turkey takes you to a journey filled with delicious flavors. From its kebab to turnip juice, lamb liver, “şırdan” and “mumbar,” Adana’s culinary culture offers something for everyone. But the real trick is to explore the city and its culinary arts on foot. Also, it is always a good idea to walk around the city to be able to digest all the food you taste because when you do this in Adana, you give yourself a break from eating while you continue to eat!
Start the day early
Adana is a city that wakes up with the first light of the dawn. With the sun rising in the East, the city starts to get ready for the long day ahead, as well as the local restaurants. If you want to follow the footsteps of a true Adana folk, you should start the day with a plate of lamb liver for a breakfast. Head to historical Kazancılar Market for the best liver in the city.
After your belly is full, it is time to start to discover the city. Take a short train ride to Pozantı in search for the local delicacies. In Pozantı, the villagers usually roll out dough to make one of Adana’s signature dish “sıkma” which is a small rolled pastry with an onion, white cheese and parsley filing. You can dig in right away while the villagers are making it and eat it with your hands just like how it should be without all the curtsies of dinner table.
After this snack, you can travel back to the city center to find the best kebab in Turkey. If you feel fancy, you can choose one of the restaurants by the river with a perfect view of the city or take a detour on the outskirts of the city where small kebab houses thrive. To feel like a real Adana local, you must drink turnip juice to accompany the kebab.
Adana’s street food
At Adana's restaurants, you can find any signature dish that this city can offer; however, the real feast takes place on the streets.
Adana’s back alleys hide the most delicious street food in the world, although I might be a little bias on that issue. The first street food that comes to mind when in the city is mumbar, which is usually sold by the street vendors at any hour of the day. Mumbar is a type of sausage that is made with mutton, rice, black pepper, salt and cinnamon stuffed into an intestine casing. After the sausage has been cooked by boiling and allowed to cool, it is sliced and fried in butter. Sometimes it is dipped in egg batter before being fried. Being one of the indispensable flavors of the locals, mumbar is said to be even more delicious if it is eaten after midnight. If you think there will be forks and knives and napkins while eating this unique dish, forget it. If you want to discover the culinary arts of the city bite by bite, you have to be ready to get dirty.
Kazım Büfe is a must-visit place if you are in Adana. Any hour of the day, you can see a line in front of this little buffet which is famous for its banana milk. The milk, which is frozen, is mixed with banana in a blender to create this simple yet favorite drink of Adana locals.
Being one of the hottest cities in Turkey, Adana locals crave for cold drinks and desserts. Hence “bici bici” is another local favorite. Bici bici is a very light dessert made of grated ice, wheat starch, powdered sugar and rose water. If you are in Adana you must try this signature street food. Besides, it is sometimes the only way to survive Adana heat.
Adana Delights Festival
If you dare to taste all these flavors under one roof, then you should definitely clear your schedule for next autumn. Organized every year, the Adana Delights Festival brings all street food and signature dish of the city together for the biggest feast the world has ever seen.
This year’s festival, which took place between Oct. 4 and 6, was organized under the theme of the “Great Mediterranean Feast” and lured gourmets from all over the world to the city. As a city whose name cannot be pronounced without recalling its dishes, Adana wants its gastronomy culture to be recognized by UNESCO. This summer, the authorities have applied to be UNESCO’s next “City of Gastronomy” and become a member of organization’s Creative Cities Network.
If you love to eat delicious food and discover a city one bite at a time, you should reward yourself with a trip to Adana.