Culture From The Couch: Beyond the Turkish Delight

Culture From The Couch: Beyond the Turkish Delight
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey Photo Credit: Shutterstock

You can never fully understand a country without delving into its history, culture and cuisine. We’ve got a list of podcasts and books to help you connect with Turkey better

Roshni Subramanian
April 27 , 2020
05 Min Read

The Turkish culture is multifaceted, to say the least. Drawing influences from Anatolian, Mediterranean and European traditions, modern Turkey is a synthesis of diverse elements. Located partly in Asia and partly in Europe, the city of Istanbul is the bridge between the east and the west. The little Turkish quirks have never failed to fascinate us. Be it the masterpieces of Turkish cuisine or their uncanny terms of endearment, the country is a beguiling mix of culture. While you might have to wait a little longer to immerse yourself in this country of contrasts, here are a few podcasts and books that are the best of Turkey. 

Turkey Book Talk 


With conversations revolving around Turkey and its surrounding regions, William Armstrong’s bi-weekly podcast Turkey Book Talk, features interviews with writers, authors and journalists. Touching upon a wide range of complex topics like Sufism, politics and communities, the podcast is precise and informative. Among the guests who have graced the show so far are policy analyst Omar Kadkoy and author Ryan Gingeras of Eternal Dawn: Turkey in the age of Ataturk fame, with the the discussion centered around Syrian refugees, the EU deal and migrants to Turkey and the paradoxes under the leadership of Ataturk. 

Ottoman History Podcast

The Ottoman History Podcast aims to bring forth an academic discussion on the Ottoman Empire and modern-day Middle East. Started in March 2011, the podcast has nearly 460 episodes to its credit. Hosted by Chris Gratein and Emrah Safa Gurkan, it began as an alternate form of academic production that allows a collaborative approach. The show extensively covers the history of the Ottomans, from their humble beginnings in the 13th century to their fall in the early 20th century.

Turkish Tea Time

Keen on learning new languages? Why not give Turkish a shot? Turkish Tea Time is a platform that offers lessons based on different aspects of the Turkish language. Started by American expat Justin Cannon who’s been living in Turkey for nearly seven years now, the podcast delves into the language, its grammar and how it’s spoken in everyday life. Catering to both absolute beginners and advanced learners, the podcast provides an opportunity to learn more about the Turkish culture.

Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey

Exploring modern daily life in Turkey, Deniz Kandiyoti’s Fragments of Culture presents the diversity of contemporary Turkish society. It offers a fresh perspective into the country’s culture and how society at large has been shaped over the years. Touching upon topics like Turkish identity and cultural politics, the book showcases the complexities of a shifting society. The narrative also serves as an integral part of Turkish studies and cultural studies in the Middle East. 

Istanbul: The Imperial City

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John Freely’s Istanbul: The Imperial City captures the day to day life in the metropolis. Serving as the ideal travel companion and guide, the book takes the readers through a journey from the city’s earliest foundations to contemporary times. The book contains a comprehensive directory of all the major monuments and museums that a first-timer should visit. Offering a flavour of daily life, the narrative is an in-depth analysis of an illustrious past and vibrant character of the city.  

Istanbul And Beyond: Exploring The Diverse Cuisines of Turkey

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The Turks are known for their passion for food (and it's about time we moved beyond the usual doner kebabs and baklava). If you’re looking to learn the Turkish art of cooking, we’d suggest picking up Robyn Eckhardt and David Hagerman’s Istanbul And Beyond. An insight into the secret flavours of Turkish food, the book is not only a collection of delectable Turkish recipes but also a well-curated compilation of numerous photographs. Having spent nearly two decades exploring the culinary gems of the region, the authors have extensively documented the fusion of cuisines including inputs from village home cooks, community bakers, cafe chefs, and even farmers and fishermen.

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