Liver Festival brings color to Turkey's Edirne
The three-day festival, held on April 26-28 this year, celebrates brass band music and the thinly-sliced fried liver dish for which the region is famous.
Kicking off the festival was a cortege of Edirne Governor Ekrem Canalp, Edirne Mayor Recep Gürkan, politicians, tradesmen and band players who walked from the Edirne Metropolitan Municipality building to the Atatürk Monument. The Turkish marching bands were joined by bands from different countries, including as Canada, Romania, Hungary, Moldova and Bulgaria.
While officials stood in homage at the Atatürk Monument, the bands played the Turkish National Anthem, “İstiklal Marşı.” After leaving flowers at the monument, the procession continued down Saraçlar Street.
Edirne Governor Canalp addressed the crowd on the street, saying that such festivals make a great contribution to publicity about the city and tourism in the region.
About 5.5 million tourists already visit Edirne every year.
“But it is time to take this figure to a greater number,” the governor said. Regional officials, including Governor Canalp and Edirne Mayor Gürkan, said their target is to surpass 10 million tourists per year.
“When I first started the duty [as Edirne mayor] in 2014, we had a tourism potential of about 2 million, consisting mostly of local tourists. Then, […] we […] made a strategic plan and put out a vision. We said: ‘We’ll increase the number of tourists to 5 million in the interim and to 10 million in the long-term,’” Gürkan said.
The city was once a capital of the Ottoman Empire and also draws tourists interested
In 2017, local authorities sought to add fried liver – ciger tava - Edirne’s centuries-old signature dish - to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Regional officials hope to make Edirne a gastronomy tourism destination partly via fried liver.
“People now give great importance to gastronomy tourism. Hopefully, in the future, in addition to nature, culture and sea tourism, we’ll bring gastronomy tourism to the front. And in fact, the festival we are holding here is a very lively example of gastronomy tourism,” he said.
The region’s restaurateurs prepared the regıonal fried liver specialty and sold the delicacy at stands during the three-day festival.
The liver came from lambs that grazed on the nearby Thracian plains.
The liver is carefully and thinly sliced, the strips dusted with flour, salt and pepper and then lightly fried. It’s served in a mound surrounded by several garnishes: fresh sliced onion mixed with parsley; the tart, dark red spice known as sumac; peppers and tomatoes.
Liver is rich in vitamins and minerals, including B12, Vitamin A, riboflavin, copper, folate, iron and choline.