Turkish Sweet History

A new book on the history of Turkish/Ottoman sweets, Sherbet and Spice by Mary Işin, was reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement (here). An excerpt: Starch was not regarded as a cooking ingredient in eighteenth-century Europe and was primarily used to powder wigs. In Ottoman Turkey, pulled sugar sticks (similar to Edinburgh rock) were particularly favoured […]

Captain Miki and The Banned Atlas

 In a twist of irony, Turkey is at once celebrating the lifting of decades-old bans on 453 books and 645 periodicals while waiting for the fate of two classics whose fates are yet to be decided. One of these classics is John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” The other one is the beloved children’s book […]

Hair Tourism

Turkey has become a sought-after medical tourism destination, especially from the Arab world, for men’s hair implants — mustaches, beards, and associated whiskers. (click here for Constanze Letsch’s article) While their wives check out the sites where Turkish soap operas so popular in the Arab world are filmed, the men have their virility enhanced (at […]

Map of Languages

A map of languages spoken in the Middle East, found here (at http://global-atlas.jrc.it/maps/PUBLIC/2133_Mid_East_Ethnic_lg.jpg). I’m struck by homogenous much of Turkey is, characterized primarily by Kurdish and Turkish; I wonder what this map would have looked like in the 1890s.

Unity Through Rakı

A 21st-century ode to Turkish unity (actually a clever ad for Yeni Rakı), based on folklore, family feeling and nostalgia, rather than blood (soy) or religion. The video courses through many parts of Turkey, and the end frame says “Whenever we get together, we become big.” Of course, people who abstain from alcohol don’t appear […]

Malling Turkey’s Heritage

I just heard that the venerable Inci Pastanesi, the bakery and cafe that opened by Luka Zigoris in 1944 and was a destination for generations seeking Turkey’s best profiterole, has been evicted from its premises on Istiklal Boulevard. They had fought the eviction in court and lost, but before the court decision even reached them, […]

Axis of Evil Comedy

I went to a benefit last night at the American Islamic Congress. A wonderful comedian, Dean Obeidallah, performed (he’s been on Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central). Obeidallah, whose father is Palestinian and mother Italian, was born and raised in New Jersey. He turns his wry wit on current events and the dilemmas of being […]

Why Is The Turkey Named Turkey?

Ta Daaa!! The explanation from The Hot Word site: …If you’ve ever visited Turkey, you probably ate shwarma, but it’s unlikely that you were served a crispy, golden turkey leg. The former center of the Ottoman Empire isn’t exactly a breeding ground for the bird that we most closely associate with Thanksgiving. In fact, the turkey is native to […]

Green Pop

From qantara.de, an essay by Dorian Jones on Islamic rock music in Turkey. Click here. I find it interesting that the pop musicians wish to add the expressiveness of  “shouting and crying” which they find in rock to religious music, which is too “soft”. Reminds me of the increasing popularity (especially in Africa and South […]

Ritual Opposition

National rituals have always been charged ideological sites, but now that Turkey is rife with competing rituals (choose either National Youth Day or Holy Birth Week; they’re at the same time), the strife has reached epic proportions. The Ankara governorship has banned the celebration of October 29 Republic Day rituals celebrating the republic’s founding, it’s […]