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Buying Meat in Turkey

Ken Grubb

Most every neighborhood in Turkey has a kasap (kah-sahp), or butcher, as do the medium-to-large-sized chain supermarkets such as Migros and Kipa. The selection, and quality, of the meat can vary, so visit a few to find the best place to buy. At the butcher shops you can buy cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, and in some places, turkey.

Few butchers sell pork products, but in the tourist towns they often have pork specialty shops which cater to the foreign expat and tourist population.

The smaller neighborhood butcher shops usually deliver. Get a business card and then just call them, tell them what you want, and give them your address. They'll bring it to your door. Give a small tip to the delivery person.

Here's a guide to Turkish words for the butcher shop which will help you recognize and order what you need.

The Meat Grinding Scam

If you like lean ground beef or lamb, be aware of this scam. When some butchers or assistants are grinding meat, their body is blocking the machine from your view, so they throw fat or other scraps cut off of previous orders into your order. Or they throw a few scraps into the grinding machine between orders when nobody's around.

By passing the meat through the grinder two or three times, the unwanted scraps get so mixed in you can't tell they're there. After they grind it, they package it up (with their body still blocking the view), then turn around and give you your meat in the package.

If you later find yourself wondering why your lean ground meat isn't very lean, then this is probably what's happening.

One thing you can do to prevent this is to grind your own meat, with an electric meat grinder you can find in any store which sells kitchen appliances. Buy the yağsız kuşbaşı (yaah-sooz koosh-bah-shuh) meat, which is small pieces of stew meat (kışbaşı means "bird's head," which is about the size of the chunks). That way you can clearly see how much fat is in it. Then take your meat and run it through your own meat grinder.

Another thing you can do is ask the butcher to run the meat through their grinder only once. If it's presented to you in a package, open it and have a look. That way you can see if fat or other scraps have been tossed in to your order.

See Also

Shopping Forum: Have a question or comment about shopping in Turkey? Post it in our shopping forum.

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