Turkish eating and the ‘mendil’ kilim

Turkish cuisine is often regarded as one of the greatest in the world. Its culinary traditions have successfully survived over 1,300 years for several reasons, including its favourable location and Mediterranean climate. The country’s position between the Far East and the Mediterranean Sea helped the Turks gain complete control of major trade routes, and an ideal environment allowed plants and animals to flourish. Such advantages helped to develop and sustain a lasting and influential cuisine. Additionally, Turkey is one of only seven countries in the world that can produce enough food to feed its people.

In Turkey there is an ancient traditional belief that it is healthier to eat when sitting on the floor.   So even today meals, especially dinner, are usually served on a large tray, which is then placed on a low table or on the floor. To eat, you sit on cushions and pillows on the floor around the tray.  Even the preparation of meals is still accomplished communally on the floor.


Meal time is an important element of each day.  It is a time to not only share food, but more importantly to reconnect.  This was true thousands of years ago as it is today.  And if you happen to be a guest in a Turkish house, prepare to be Christmas Day stuffed by the end; no amount of polite refusals will get you through the meal without having tried copious amounts of everything on offer.


The nomadic culture was no different and there are some stunning kilims still around today that were used as the floor eating mats, known as ‘mendil’.  They were used as the floor mat for eating around and also for sorting grain on.  One aspect of the nomadic culture that I love the most is its simplicity and functionality.  Even though they had few possessions, the ones they did have were treasured, beautified and multi-functional.


The most common of motifs found on the mendil kilims tend to be ones of ‘abundance’ and ‘protection’, A fitting reminder even today….

You can check out these mendil and other small kilims here.

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