Table Culture
‘Almost every dish had a different chef: head of soup, head of helva and so on.’
Table culture in the Ottoman Palace had unique status. Almost every dish had a different chef: head of soup (çorbacıbaşı), head of helva (helvacıbaşı) and so on. At banquets and Ramadan dinners (iftar), cushions were laid out on a textile that covered the floor. In the middle of the cushions a copper, silver or gilded-metal tray was placed upon which were put spoons of turtle-shell, coral, ivory or bone. The dishes followed a traditional order: the first dish was soup served in individual bowls; a main dish of red meat or chicken would follow that was served in very large metal vessels with lids (to keep the food warm), known as kuşhane. The main dish was accompanied by drinks and sweets such as zerde, baklava and helva were served as the last course.
Topkapı Palace

Construction began in hegira 9th century / AD 15th century, during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II (his second reign: AH 855–86 / AD 1451–81); the last addition was made under Sultan Abdülmecid ['Abd al-Majid] (r. AH 1255–77 / AD 1839–61) in hegira 13th century / AD 19th century
Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
An exterior view of the kitchens and their colossal chimneys. The palace kitchens served about 2,000 residents and more than 8,000 day-workers.