Van to seek UNESCO recognition for breakfast
Van Yüzüncü Yıl University (YYÜ) and the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism have applied to the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry to include Van’s distinctive regional breakfast on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
The designation would help promote the city’s famous breakfast spread of herbed cheese, made with the plants grown in the plateaus; murtuğa, made with flour, butter and eggs; cacık, made with yogurt and cucumber; milk cream and karakovan honey.
In 2014, with the participation of 51,793 people, the record of “the most crowded breakfast table in the world” was broken in Van.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, YYU Rector Professor Hamdullah Şevli said that the breakfast culture in Van dates back many years in the region.
“In our research, we learned that there were places called ‘milk houses’ in 1947 in the city, and these places were opened during the morning prayer. The tradesmen opened their offices in the morning and made their breakfast with hot milk, bread and buns in these places. The fact that Van is located on the Silk Road route also contributed to the development of this breakfast culture,” Şevli said.
Şevli said that the most distinctive feature that distinguishes Van breakfast from other breakfast varieties is the endemic plant species growing on the highlands and mountain skirts of the city and herbal cheese made with milk obtained from the animals that graze on these plateaus.
Breakfast products such as roasted meat, karakovan honey and butter, cream and cacık are made with natural methods, and the breakfast culture continues in the same way as in the past, he said.
“People, who go to work early in the morning, take some bread, çörek, butter, cacık and cheese, sit on a stool around a coffee table and have their breakfast. In the same way, women gather in houses in winter and in gardens in summer and have breakfast together,” Şevli said. “We want to continue this culture that started with milk houses in the past.”
In the application process, “UNESCO does not ask us about the types of Van breakfast but asks about its culture,” he said.
“We applied to UNECSO for the Van breakfast culture,” Şevli continued. “This study will be a very important achievement for both our province and our region. When it comes to Van, breakfast and cats come to mind. Van also has a serious potential in terms of tourism.”
Van breakfast culture should be protected
YYU Faculty of Tourism Dean Professor Elvan Ocak said that they had recorded all stages of Van breakfast with the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism.
Van breakfast entered the Guinness Book of World Records in January for the most crowded breakfast table, but the breakfast spread already had international recognition, Ocak said.
“Van breakfast has an importance. Van breakfast places were opened both in Turkey and abroad. This culture needs to be protected. The culture of making breakfast in groups is not common everywhere. This culture is forgotten day-by-day. Our goal is to keep this breakfast culture prepared with pleasure in the kitchens alive.”
Fariz Gül, a breakfast venue enterpriser, said that Van breakfast is a cultural value.
“We see breakfast not only as a food and beverage element, but as a cultural heritage. We are happy that our breakfast can be included in the UNESCO list,” Gül said. “It would be nice for our city to have an international platform for our breakfast.”