Learning about Turkey the practical way: Cookery lessons in Tlos

A quirky new cultural and cookery day tour is now on offer from the Koral Tourism and Travel Agency. For visitors to Turkey who want a bit more from their holiday than lying on the beach or by the pool soaking up the rays, a trip to a boutique hotel or lodge in the cool mountains outside Fethiye is just the ticket.
Murat Mallı of Koral Travel is full of enthusiasm for the new tour. He said, “We want to offer something different for those people who don’t want to lie on the beach all the time and who also want to learn about Turkish food and culture. They also get a chance to look ‘behind the scenes’ and see how Turkish people really live away from the tourist resorts.”
Fridays are cooking days: first a trip to the local market in Kemer, near Fethiye where village women sell their surplus produce. Then a visit to the local butcher is a way of understanding the varieties and cuts of meat available in these parts of Turkey. It is almost certain that tea will be offered as is the local custom and it is one of the special things about shopping like this that make it so different from the ubiquitous rush around the supermarket back in the U.K., for example.
At Mountain Lodge, under the guidance of the owner Melahat Özşimsek a maximum of 10 aspiring cooks and lovers of Turkish food can hone their culinary skills by watching Mel demonstrate Turkish specialty dishes, try out the recipe for themselves and then, if that wasn’t enough, enjoy a delicious meal combining the fruits of their labor. It also provides a great opportunity to meet and talk with like-minded people.
Mel explains the sort of recipes that she will be teaching her students during the course. “It is really important for me that we use fresh, seasonal and locally sourced products. I particularly like it when we can buy our ingredients from one of the village women in the knowledge that this helps her personally, otherwise we pick them from my gardens.”
She continues, warming to her favorite topic, “I use a mix of classic, regional and in particular eastern Turkish recipes. I sometimes adapt them to suit the ingredients I have available and occasionally make one up completely! I love cooking with really good, fresh produce. We use our own whenever we can and get our olive oil locally too. It’s great being able to share these wonderful flavors with our guests.”
Koral Travel will collect guests from and return them to their hotels. All will receive an apron, a hat and a certificate to remind them of their day.