Food is lost time. Shaped by interlopers and invaders food is a product of movement, whether climate, conflict, drought, ecology, expansion, famine, morality, pestilence, prejudice, trade or war is the cause. The first nomads who settled into sedentary life amidst climate change in Anatolia 12,000 years ago moved around until they found a place where they could catch, farm, forage, grow and raise the produce that would define their new lifestyle.
People, place, produce is now the accepted paradigm for civilisation, based on indigenous produce, value-added products and traditional recipes. The modern people of Anatolia understand why the ancient people of Anatolia created and maintained a sustainable food production system because they replicate it today. Remove the sophisticated technology, the time-saving technology and the electronic technology and everything is as it was millennia ago and continued to be for thousands of years as the interlopers and invaders re-shaped society and introduced new methods of baking and cooking. Today central and coastal Anatolia is a food basket, a supplier of food produce and food products beyond the borders of modern Turkey.
Consequently the people who ruled Turkey took their techniques and technology into the lands they acquired and conquered, and now the food of the Ottomans is ubiquitous across the continent of Europe.
The Great European Food Adventure will be published as a large format book in 2020. To whet your appetite here are versions of some of the 250 stories featured in the book.
Restaurant Cheminots in Brig is the seventh stop on our journey.
Located in the Hotel Ambassador, this restaurant is unlike any other in Switzerland. Featuring the story of the iconic cordon bleu, which some believe was invented in Brig, this is food nirvana Swiss style.
We are now in heart of apennine Italy in the town of Avezzano. We are not sure whether we are the right place. This is where the regions of Abruzzo and Lazio are expressed in the pastoralism that produces bacon, cheese and eggs – ingredients associated with pasta dishes. Is this where spaghetti alla carbonara originated?
The man below was a skilled hunter. He died over 5,000 years ago and was frozen in ice. We are in Bolzano / Bozen, the gateway to the Dolomites. Here the traditional food is quintessentially alpine, where history is never-ending.
We are on the outskirts of Hayıroğlu village trying to imagine what it was like to live here 10,500 years ago. This is the western edge of the Konya Plain in south-central Anatolia, roughly 250 kilometres from the Mediterranean coast. It is a steppe landscape, a patchwork quilt of fields designed for agriculture and pasture, crucial to an indigenous food culture that is being reshaped as we speak.
Af Ole Troelsø is the author of Insiders Guide to Smørrebrød, one of the most enigmatic food books we have ever seen, and we are desperate to talk to him, to glean some of his traditional food knowledge.