Ark of taste
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Ethnic Greeks have lived in what is now Turkey for over 3,000 years, but in 1923 a “population exchange” took place in which ethnic Greeks and Orthodox Christians in Turkey (people collectively referred to as Rûm) were forced to relocate to Greece, and Turks and Muslims in Greece were forced to move to Turkey. Some Greeks were allowed to remain in Turkey, but violent persecution into the 1950s caused many of them to emigrate. Today, most of the few remaining Greeks in Turkey live in Istanbul, but there is also a small Greek community on the Urla-Çeşme-Karaburun Peninsula west of the city of Izmir, on Turkey’s Aegean coast. It was here that a dairy product called armola originated among herders.

This community traditionally raised sheep and goats, using their milk to make a variety of products including tulum (cheese matured in a goatskin sack), lor (a whey cheese, similar to ricotta), beyaz peynir (“white cheese,” a brined cheese similar to feta and one of the most important dairy products in Turkish gastronomy, often being consumed several times each day), yogurt, and butter. These were intended for home consumption or sale in local markets. Armola is made by mixing leftover beyaz peynir, lor, and yogurt (all preferably made from goat’s milk), and then packing the mixture in a goatskin, hanging it, and letting it re-ferment slightly. Armola has a short shelf life, so it should be consumed within a few days. It has a consistency similar to yogurt and is typically eaten as a meze (appetizer), often with some olive oil and oregano.

As traditional small-scale animal husbandry has declined, so too has armola, and it is now very difficult to find. It is only produced in and around Urla, Ulamiş, and Seferihisar, and can occasionally be found in village markets. There is a company that produces armola, but instead of using the traditional method, they mix the white cheese, whey cheese, and yogurt in a cauldron. Furthermore, because armola is traditionally made from leftovers, it cannot really be authentically reproduced in a commercial setting. While 30-40 years ago there were hundreds of people making armola, today there are only a few dozen herders and their families that continue the tradition.

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Ege Bölgesi

Production area:Urla and Seferihisar, Izmir Province

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Milk and milk products