Friday, September 6, 2019

UNIVERSAL YUMS: TURKEY

Recently, I subscribed to the Universal Yums snack boxes. Every month, they will send me a box filled with snacks and candies from a different country. Inside each box is a multi-page booklet with information on the snacks, the nation I’m “visiting” and additional fun and games. I thought this would be an amusing diversion for my family. This month: Destination: Turkey!

The first thing we saw when we opened the box was a map of sorts. It didn’t have a lot of detail, but it did show several key cities and include a bit of trivia about them. On the flip side, there’s a scoring chart for you to rate this box’s snacks, a secret puzzle and a description of “Bes Tas” (five stones). The game ios basically Turkish-style jacks.

An informative booklet comes in the box. It has some information on Turkey, a trivia quiz, a picture of and note on each of the snacks in the box, a “meze” game showcasing various Turkish meals, a page on Turkish coffee, another page on Turkish attractions, the recipe for Kofte (Turkish meatballs) and the answers to the trivia quiz. The booklet is fascinating.

On to the snacks themselves...

The Crunch Tako & Hardal Aromali Cips are mustard and taco flavored chips. Turkey and Mexico are great trading partners and this snack evokes both countries. They aren’t bad, but they don’t compare to our own flavored chips here in the United States.

Ondule Kebob is a corn snack with grilled kabob flavor. The kabob flavor didn’t come through, making for a tasteless snack not unlike
our own Bugles.

Torku Enjoy Kek is a chocolate and vanilla sponge cake with orange filling. It was tasty, but the orange flavor was lost in the other flavors.
                                                                            

The Ulker Krispi Tirtikli Kraker Baharatli cracker chips are among my favorite snacks from this box. They are seasoned with baharat, a blend of spices that’s “insanely popular” all across the Middle East. They are crispy and the flavor is wonderful. If I could buy bags of them here in Medina, they’d replace most of the other chips and crackers that show up at Casa Isabella.

Keyofce Fistikli Cezerye was described as a “Turkish delight with carrot, pistachio and coconut. It’s like a spongy candy bar. None of the flavors dominate. It’s not bad, but the texture is a turnoff for me.
                                                                               
Lush Cocoa Creme Mosaic Cookies are just that: mosaic cookies with  chocolate cream filling. Chocolate has not been predominant in the region until recently, so these are just coming into their own in Turkey. They are taste cookies, but we have similar cookies in the United States that are as good or better.
                                                                                     
  
Mevlana Sekeri. These sugar candies look like after-dinner mints, but they melt in your mouth quickly. Possibly because they are 90% sugar. I felt one of my arteries harden as I consumed one of these candies. There are three flavors. I got strawberry, which was quite delicious. The others flavors are orange and bergamot, the citrus oil that gives Earl Grey tea its flavor. These candies are made in Konya, the sugar center of Turkey.

Tatsan Soft Nougat is a soft chocolate nougat bar with hazelnuts. Things I learned from this snack include that Ordu is the hazelnut capital of the world, producing 40% of the world’s supply, and that another 40% comes from other parts of Turkey. That adds up to 80% of the world’s hazelnuts. I found this candy tasty, but the chewy texture didn’t appeal to me.
                                                                                  

Tatkrak Cubuk Acili. These spicy cracker sticks are delicious, but they sneak up on you. The more you eat, the more the spices explode in your mouth. This particular flavor of the sticks combine a blend of spices with a hint of cheese.
                                                                                

Today Cherry Donut. This chocolate donut with cherry jelly knocked me out. It’s delicious and very rich. I ate half the donut because the richness was making my head spin. Another fun Turkey food fact: the country is the biggest cherry producer in the world to the tune of over 800,000 tons. The United States comes in second with just around 500,000 tons.

Ulker Krispi Peynir Sogan. These are like the cracker chips I discussed above, but with different flavors: cheese and onion. They’re tasty, but the baharat flavor is the clear superior.

Assorted Turkish Delight. These little cubes are sugar syrup with starch, cooked for several hours and infused with flavors. In this sample package, the flavors were rose, lemon and orange. They were too chewy for me and the flavors just didn’t pop the way I thought they should.

Tomby Ketcap Aromali Misir Cipsi. These ketchup flavored sticks are inspired by similar European snacks. They are small and delicious.They came in a larger bag than most of the treats in the box. I’m happy about that. Another item I’ll be trying to find online or in some area grocery store.
                                                                              

Keyifce Antep Fistikli. The package contained two triangles. The leathery skin tasted like boot. The filling was largely flavorless. This treat is said to showcase three uniquely Turkish components: pestil (fruit leather), pekmez (a molasses-like fruit syrup) and crumbly ground antep (pistachio). Saintly Wife Barb and I couldn’t even finish one of the triangles between us.

Torku Gofret Cifte Lezzet Karamelli Findik. This was a huge block of caramel and hazelnut cream wafers. I believe I’ve consumed more hazelnuts from this box of snacks than in all of my life previous to this Turkish adventure. It’s a light snack, but that might just because there is so little flavor to the wafers or their filling. 
                                                                       
Lush Tahina. These were sesame paste filled cookies and they were delicious. Barb thought they would be great with coffee. The handy guide book says they are “essentially the Turkish equivalent of a Nutter Butter - except maybe a tahina bit better.”
                                                                              

Ulker Susamli Cubuk Kraker. Damn, these are delicious. Sesame seed coated cracker sticks. Kind of like hard mini-breadsticks. I used to buy something like these, but haven’t seen them around of late. I’m going to look harder.

Today Goldies Milk & Honey. Sponge cake with milk and honey. Both Barb and I thought this was especially tasty.

The last item in our Turkey box was the “Yum Bag” filled with two different kinds of small wrapped candies. The bag held about half a dozen pieces of each.
                                                                                 

The Toffix Mastic was the nastiest snack in this box. It’s a soft chewy comedy with mastic flavor, derived from the gum-like sap of the mastic tree. It tastes like I imagine jackal ass would taste. Both Barb and I spit out the one bite we each took. If I ever have to torture someone to give them information, I will make them eat this candy.
                                                                                  
    
On the other hand, the Toffix Melo Melo was very nice. It’s a soft milk candy with pear and orange flavor. It’s a little too chewy for me - I’ve never liked gum - but it has a refreshing taste. Show me a candy or pastry that has the same flavor and I’m sure I’d love it a lot.

We didn’t eat all of the Turkey snacks in this box. We had a taste of them and put the rest in bags. We have invited guests to sample them and I might make the same invitation to friends who come to my garage sale this weekend. The next Universal Yums box we’ll be receiving will contain snacks from Greece. Given the proximity of the two nations, I’m wondering if their snacks will differ greatly from one and another. I’ll let you know what I discover.

Since I will be spending eight hours a day at my garage sale today and tomorrow, I’ll likely have to skip a few days of blogging. But, I assure you, I will be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella




1 comment:

  1. William Ashley VaughanSeptember 6, 2019 at 9:05 PM

    Looking forward to finding out what you think of the Greek snack box. I lived in Greece for a couple of years when my father was doing his military service at the end of the sixties. I miss getting souvlaki on a stick from a stand in one of the Athens markets.

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