The Trendy Snacking Ritual Behind Turkish Raki

Pairing food with alcohol is one of the great joys of life. Most of us know about pairing tasty dishes with wine. Cordon Bleu reports that a successful pairing of wine and food boosts our dining experience and elevates the textures and flavors of the food we're eating. Luckily, if you're not that into wine, there's a whole other world of pairings to try. For example, oysters go really well with a nice glass of bubbly Champagne, while a glass of strong beer is the perfect accompaniment to pretzels and cheesecake (per Book Culinary Vacations). 

Cocktails and spirits can also be paired with food, but it's a bit easier to pair spirits with food than cocktails, which contain "more elements in the finished product." Botanical gins pair well with smoked salmon on rye, while a glass of bourbon will make a great pairing for smoky barbecued meat (via Vine Pair). 

After all, people accompany their alcohol with snacks all over the world: in Korea, fried chicken is eaten with soju or beer; in Canada it's beer and pancakes; and in Australia, people snack on calamari while drinking Sauvignon Blanc (per Spoon University). And we shouldn't forget about Turkey, which has a trendy snacking ritual behind its traditional drink, raki.

Turkish meze are served as drinking snacks with raki

Have you ever heard of Lion's Milk? It's just another name for the Turkish national drink, raki, which is "made of twice-distilled grapes and aniseed." CNN reports that raki is typically enjoyed in taverns with a group of friends, regardless of age, gender, or social class. And since raki contains about 45% alcohol, food is served as a drinking accompaniment in order to subdue the effects of alcohol, at least a little bit. 

And what type of food is served in Turkey with raki? Of course, it's meze, traditional Turkish appetizers, such as chunks of melon and beyaz peynir, a brined white cheese similar to feta. Raki newbies should opt for a 35-centiliter bottle, and each person should take a 4cl shot called a "tek." The alcoholic beverage is poured in highball glasses called kadeh, while cold water and ice are provided to dilute the drink just a bit. And when it's time for toasting, the bottom of the glasses should always clink. 

After that, it's time for more meze – anything from roasted salted chickpeas, pickles, and marinated bonito to aubergine salad, sautéed greens, and fava beans in olive oil can be served on the raki table (via Istanbul Food). Just be prepared to get really drunk – Turkish-Cuisine reveals that the locals drink to get drunk, and a bottle of raki should always be drained at the end of the evening.