Culinary Programs

One doesn’t learn necessarily in classrooms! Yet so many and extremely varied forms and styles of pottery, porcelain and chinaware call up for another supreme form of art: Culinary Skills and Gourmet Refinement. Heir to so many simultaneous and successive civiliations with millennia-long imperial presence over three continents, so is the country's cousine with an infitive variety ranging from local, regional, ethnic, traditional and thematic tastes and flavors, through delicious fastfoods to international kitchens of deluxe hotels and specialized restaurants…

And of course UNIVERSAL is there to organize most imaginative tours for gastronomers who would simply wish to taste or still for those cordon-blues who in addition to offering successive treats to their palates, would also like to learn the culinary culture of the country, take recipes back home and exchange views and experiences, possibly accompanied by a culinary expert.

A Rich Agricultural Heritage

Such an itinerary may highlight the rich agricultural heritage of the country whose seasonal culinary tradition makes that one eats what is ripe at a given period of the year: the extraordinary variety of vegetables, above all (and-also of fruit) has created those extraordinary simmered dishes seasoned with likewise extraordinary herbs, a kitchen, not only teasty but also healtly, featuring countless eggplant specialities including its jam, and naturally also olive oil, that indispensable ingredient of the Mediterraniean cusine extracted from those blessed groves planted and grown in the region since Antiquity.

Delicious Local Specialities

It also features lamb, the Turkish favorite, also used for all those delicious kebabs, so differently prepared according to regions. The worldwide known varieties of which are shish and doner kebabs. Pilaf, yogurt and boreks, those pastries stuffed with cheese, meat or vegetables, are indispensable dishes of the Turkish table, so is fish along the endless coastal line.

The very long history of the country and its exchanges of culiary habits and recipes are easy to trace through the variety of its dishes: e.g. pastirma, the dried meat speciality. would stand for the country's nomadic origins the Circassian chicken for the variety of its ethnic cusines and mezes, those extraordinary Turkish appetizers such as stuffed grape leaves and mussles to its Mediterannian affiliation.

Tasteful Drinks

However these mezes indispensable dishes of long chat tables, are often or a fairly good choice of Turkish accompanied by raki, the local anise liquor. The excellent local beer or a fairly good choice of Turkish wines may offer a judicious alternative, Vineyards, planted and grown in this country since times unknown, may inspire a separate tour of its own visiting some of the most interesting spots such as Istanbul, Cappadocia and the Aegean region, also allowing some interesting wine tasting.

Turkish Delight

But coming back to the ending phase of the meal, some among the rich assortment of Turkish desserts such as the world famous pastry speciality of baklava, follow the same tradidion of funny names as for some main courses. This time they are erotically called woman's navel or woman's thigh, who knows, reminisent of some Harem mystery! However the Turks in addition to a consumption at every and any hour of the day, have the habit of finishing a meal with their black tea in tutip-shaped glasses or the world famous Turkish Coffee, served in tiny cups, and sometimes with a piece of Turkish delight.

Once very widely spread, a visit when in lstanbul, to a few extant coffee house such as the one in the Covered Bazaar or that named after the French orientalist Pierre Loti, dominating from up above a hilltop the famous Golden Horn, may constitute an interesting experience. Other soft drinks may highlight the excellent quality and wide variety of' fruit juices, or traditional sherbets, sweetened fruit or flower juices diluted with water and served chilled particularly in days of heat.

Beyond Imagination

However grandeur attracts grandeur and for a cuisine of such great variety, it was more than normal to attain the supreme refinement of preparation and presentation of a truly grand cousine in Istanbul, the capital city and heir to three world empires of the past. Also dining out is a great tradition in this unique city which offers venues truly "beyond imagination" both in beauty and food quality.

Such luxuriant feelings will continue while visiting the imperial Topkapi Palace the kitchens of which used to feed more than 8,000 individuals a day, the huge copper cauldrons and the magnificent and extremely large collection of Chinese porcelain standing there for witness.

Yet the great city offers in its exceptional mosaic less imperial and more popular veneues as well, the visit of which is an Istanbul must namely: the Fisherman Village of Kumkapi with its lively and authentic atmosphere and entertainment, the Beyoglu Fish Market and its colorful exhibit of the freshest vegetables and fish and its alleys of boozing shops, and the charming old market of Kadikoy, the Asiatic center of the city.

However any culinary tour to the fantastic city should either end or start at the fabulous Egyptian or Spice Bazaar where, in the midst of the Orient's dizzying scents and incredible crowds, the visitor may have a chance to buy some of the world's countless spices and herbs dried fruit such as excellent pistachios and sultanas, innumerable sweets including the famous Turkish delight, the best Turkish coffee. traditional Turkish culinary utensils and a lot more, so much more that it is hard even to imagine!

Appreciated Appreciations

Thank you so much for EVERYTHING you did to help make our tour to Turkey such a big success. Your support and assistance is greatly appreciated and valued. The group really enjoyed their tour and we now have another 32 disciples who will spread the word about Turkey for us.

Rob Chaplin / The Golf Travel Company /

On behalf of the Rosebank Union Church group I want to thank you most sincerely for all you did to make our tour of Turkey unforgettable. I came home not only with a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, particularly those relating to the Seven Churches, but also with an appreciation of and admiration for the country of Turkey. I was particularly fascinated by Istanbul, and hope to spend more time there in the future exploring the riches of that most fascinating city. I also loved the fertile valleys through which we travelled, the sight of the snow-capped mountains, and the friendliness of the people we met as we walked the streets of those smaller towns along the way.

Leigh Robinson / Rosebank Union Church /

Moreover, the history of Turkey is impressive, not only the recent history but the ancient history which confirms the history of our Bible. I have not visited Greece, Israel or Italy or other countries mentioned in the Bible but think that Turkey is more central to the history of the Bible.We are also amazed at Turkey and what it achieved. It is evident that this would not happen without sound work ethics and commitment by the whole population.

Piet Zeeman / /

One of our very best trips we have ever taken. Turkey was full of memorable moments along with a fascinating history and culture. Thanks for helping plan such an extraordinary trip!!!

Karen & Bruce Levenson / /

There are not enough superlatives in English to describe our trip to Turkey. Most amazing, most friendly, most interesting, most beautiful are just a few that come to mind. We want to thank you for organizing one of the best trips we have ever had. Flights, accommodations, guides and drivers, everything was perfect! Benjamin and Bulent were the most knowledgeable, friendly, and fun people ever. Mustafa was an excellent driver. The sites we visited in Cappidocia and Ephesus were fabulous. To paraphrase General MacArthur: "We will return!" Thanks again.

Jim and Barb / /

Rosemary and I (and, I'm sure, all the others in the party) thouroughly enjoyed the time spent in your beautiful Country. The planning and arrangements laid on were superb. There was a good balance between the secular and the religious aspects, the accommodation and food was great, and the transport went of without a 'glitch'. Halit is, with doubt, a superb guide and his knowledge of so many facets of history, polotics, economic, geography etc is outstanding. He instantly struck a good rapport with the group, and was a real pleasure to be with, and was definitely one to whom listening was not a problem. We came away from the eight days having learnt a tremendous amount both Biblically and about modern and ancient Turkey (as well as other parts of the world).

Lin / /

Over the span of 25 years Universal Travel Services has provided five star service to our 19 tour groups totaling over 500 travelers. Universal and their fine staff have worked with me to develop a series of tours focusing on the biblical and Christian Church history sites in Turkey. One of the most consistent traveler responses in their evaluations of our tours has been, "Great value for the money." Thank you Universal for a quarter century of truly outstanding service.

Donald Cornell / USA / Lutheran Pastor

Apart from all the usual items - hotels/meals/sightseeing etc.. it was the way in which the additional services were handled and your ability to get things done and implement frequent last minute changes which was most impressive...

N.C. / Riyadh, K.S.A. / Regional Manager

...There are not enough good words to describe the extraordinary services that Universal arranged on my behalf upon my request to them regarding the change in my itinerary. I know that you are aware that the hospitality of the Turkish people is greater by tradition than other European Countries. The services and hospitality provided by Universal to me was of this tradition, more than just good business relations...

H.H. / San Diego, CA U.S.A. /

... I would like to extend my appreciation for making our 21th birthday celebration a memorable night...