Chicken for Dessert - My Two Cents on Food in Istanbul

Turks are very proud of their cuisine.  Now I like Turkish food.  I really do.  I eat it almost every day, but the degree of passion Turks have for Turkish food truly confuses me.  If a Turk suggests that we have a Turkish meal, it means we will either go for a casual meal of some sort of kebab/ meatball-type thing or we will have grilled fish with various mezzes. Fish restaurants are particularly lovely, as many are right on the water, have a nice view, etc.  But as an American, I am accustomed to having lots of variety.  I love Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Ethiopian, Indian, Cuban, Mexican, etc.  Like every other culture in the world Turks have developed a fondness for pizza and hamburgers, but most people here don’t eat what I think of as real foreign foods.  There are foreign restaurants in Istanbul, but for a major international city that prides itself on being a cross roads between civilizations, there are surprisingly few, they are mostly overpriced and not very good.

On the bright side, from my perspective anyway, Turks seem very fond of dessert. In addition to traditional foods like baklava, Turkish delight, and all sorts of milk-based desserts the Turks eat cake, cheesecake, ice cream and other traditionally western desserts.  The most interesting of the traditional Turkish desserts is called tavuk göğsü which is in the pudding family, but thicker, and it is made with chicken. I assume it was originally included in the recipe as a thickening agent. To a western ear it sounds gross, but the reality is quite nice.  The chicken is ground up so finely that you don’t really notice it unless you are looking for it.