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Sultans in the Ottoman Empire loved to eat. In the 15th century, Topkapi Palace boasted a kitchen staff of 100 people, a number that grew to 500 during the 16th-century reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. Before 1600, the kitchen staff topped 1,000 people who were all dedicated to creating the confections, drinks, and elaborate meals eaten by the sultan. Ottoman sultans prized expensive luxuries that expanded beyond the Ottoman harems and into their kitchens as well. They stocked their pantries with ground orchid and other exotic spices, and imported ingredients from across their massive empire and from neighboring territories, including the Persian Empire and China.
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