This isn't Turkey, though, it's the Orange County Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa, transformed for the Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival. The four-day event was an opportunity to experience everything Turkish.
The entire site, including the food stands (at top), had been set up to recreate Turkish architecture and historic sites. The food wasn't simulated, though. It was the real thing, some of it straight from Turkey.
Gaziantep, considered the culinary center of Turkey, sent this man to make katmer, a package of sheer dough filled with pistachios, thick cream and sugar. It sold out so quickly that by the time I tried to buy some, it was gone. In Turkey, newlyweds eat this alluring pastry at their first breakfast to represent the sweetness they hope to find in their marriage.
Gaziantep is renowned for baklava (above), some of it colored green with pistachios. The Gaziantep booth offered little boxes with individual bites of the famous baklava of Imam Cagdas, a restaurant in Gaziantep, and sold packages of intensely flavored local pistachios.
Komagene, a Turkish chain that as yet has no American outlet, served spicy, sweet chee kufta in a romaine leaf (above). This meatless tartare, composed of bulgur ground with walnuts, almonds and many seasonings, could be a big seller here.
Food columnist and cookbook author Faye Levy (Feast from the Mideast) gave an overview of Anatolian cuisine in an area set aside for talks and cooking demonstrations.
Vegetables cooked in olive oil is a menu category in Turkey, she said, and a specialty of Izmir, where the cuisine is influenced by Greece. The Veggieland stall served only such vegetables, among them stuffed eggplants (above) and green beans with tomatoes.
Other desserts included bread kataifi, small syrup-soaked semolina cakes called sekerpare and Noah's pudding, a mixture of barley, rice, beans, dried fruits, walnuts and coconut.
Some 400 volunteers worked for two weeks to set up the festival, which included music performances, folk dances and displays of Turkish arts and crafts. If you missed it, that's a shame. But you can still find information on Turkish cuisine and recipes on the festival website.