Me: Hi dad. How’s your apartment? We’ll come round to see you in a few minutes.
Dad: (In a very grumpy voice.) Apartment’s fine and when you come round, bring some milk with you! I’ve bought two bottles and they’ve both been sour. It keeps curdling when I try to make a cup of tea and it tastes awful!
We have lots of conversations like this with people who come to Turkey and go self-catering. I can’t decide if there are lots of Turkish shop owners who have a good old chuckle to themselves as unsuspecting foreigners pay for their ‘milk,’ (only to return to the shop again a few minutes later to make another attempt) or if the shop owner thinks everyone loves ayran as much as they do. I prefer to think it’s the first option just because it’s funnier.
Ayran: A Turkish National Drink
Just as we recently learned the art of drinking that other Turkish national drink, rakı, we’ve only started to drink ayran in any quantity over the last couple of months; it’s an acquired taste! Ayran is not milk. It’s a mixture of natural yoghurt, water and salt and, as the hotter weather creeps along the shores of Southern Turkey, now seems like the perfect time to add Ayran to the blog.
You can’t miss ayran. It’s part of the fabric of Turkish society. It’s a fact of life. It’s sold in plastic bottles (exactly the same as a British milk bottle), plastic cartons, by the glass, people make their own – everyone drinks ayran and we’ve now joined the fan club.
4 Fantastic Reasons to (learn to) love Ayran:
1. It’s easy on the budget and filling
If you’re in Turkey on a budget, most of the eateries where you sit down to eat your food will sell ayran. The glass of ayran in the photo cost us 1 lira (about 40p). Eat your food, drink your ayran and it’ll be very cheap and, just as important, you will be extra full.
2. Hot weather
The summer months in Southern Turkey can see temperatures in the 40s and, especially along the Mediterranean coast, this is sometimes combined with sweltering humidity. This is where you begin to understand why Turks swear by ayran. Served icy cold, straight from the fridge, the yoghurt’s magical properties help cool down over-heated bodies while the salt replenishes those salts lost during bouts of ridiculous and uncontrollable sweating.
3. Prevention is better than cure…but it can help the curing process, too!
Because ayran is yoghurt-based it helps to settle the stomach should you be unfortunate enough to develop a dose of the Turkey Trots (you know; griping, gurgling stomach, running to the loo every few minutes). Again, the salt will restore those salts you lose while this unpleasant action is taking place! We all know too much sun and alcohol shouldn’t be mixed but we’ve all done it. In a majority of cases, this is what causes your illness – not last night’s kebab. Get yourself to the chemist, swig your medication down with an ayran and you’ll be back up and running in no time at all.
4. It’s good!
For some people (like us) it takes a while to get your head round drinking salty, watery, yoghurt. But, once you’ve acquired the taste, you’ll wonder why it took so long to have this traditional Turkish drink in your life.
Have you tried ayran? Are you an ayran fan? Have you ever bought ayran accidentally, mistaking it for a bottle of milk?