A week or so ago, I did a post about Ramazan (Ramadan) and the comments to the blog were few, but I did get a number of emails about the post. http://possumlane.blogspot.com/2010/08/ramadan-ramazan.html.
As most folks who know me at all know that I used to live in Turkey and that I have traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. I have a number of close Turkish friends here on the Shore. There are several restaurants here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia that are owned by Turks. I can think of 8 without straining my brain all that hard…
Anyway, my Turkish friends seem to appreciate my pitiful attempts at speaking their language (which I had not spoken for nearly 50 years, except for a selection of cuss words when needed – that my boss could not understand) and they appreciate my love of their country, food, and understanding and acceptance of their customs. So, I and some friends that I hang out with were invited to a Break Fast at an American Turkish cultural center in Georgetown, Delaware. If you read my post on Ramazan, you will remember that they do not eat or drink during daylight hours, which is a long stretch when Ramazan falls in the summer months. Remember Ramazan is based on the lunar calendar, so it is about 11 days earlier every year. Next year the days will be even longer as Ramazan will start about the 1st of August. So, last night, our dinner was served at 8 PM, just after sunset.
Most of the women were dressed in their finest headscarves and long sleeved, floor length dresses. Most of the women and children sat on one side of the room, most of the men and visitors on the other. It just seemed to work that way for ease in feeding and caring for the children, not as a segregation thing. Think about your home at Thanksgiving, the men in front of the TV set or hanging out on the porch or gazebo, the women gathered around in the kitchen… I remember G-ma threatening the men with a spatula if they did not get out of her way… the gazebo was the escape from work or just being underfoot.
Our host, Asher, served us.
We had a delicious dinner, lentil soup and fresh baked rolls, Turkish meatballs (Köfte – pronounced kind of like Kurftah), pilaf with beef and chickpeas, and a salad, and a sauce to eat with the pilaf. The sauce is a mixture of yogurt, cucumbers, onion and light garlic. All this was followed by fresh made baklava and çay (chai).
It was an emotional experience for me.
If you’ve read much of my blog or if you have known me for a while, you will know I dearly loved the few years I spent in Turkey, I was treated like royalty wherever I went, and I was most fortunate to be able to travel throughout much of the country. That might not look like much on the map, but back in the early 60s, the only paved roads were in the major cities, and there were often no bridges over the shallower rivers, one drove thru them. So travel was slow and yet it gave one a chance to experience the country in a way today’s tourists will miss whizzing by things at 70 mph. Part of my dad’s job was to help set up facilities for building roads and bridges. And being young (I graduated high school in Ankara) I picked up a bit of the language – enough to get in or out of trouble, get something to eat or drink, and find the bathroom! For some reason some of the words have always been part of my thinking vocabulary and just pop out from time to time and I don’t even realize it. I learned to eat eggplant in Turkey, so I learned it as patlican (pot-la-john) and still have to pause and think of the English for it, which in my old age can take some time.
An imam called us to prayer. It has been 46 years since I have heard an actual live voice do the call to prayer. It brought tears to my eyes. I felt very homesick for Turkey. There was prayer both before and after dinner giving thanks for the food and fellowship.
I got to visit with my dear friend, Ülkü, and her daughter I will call Bebek. You might remember them from the post about visiting the Virginia Museum of Marine Science. http://possumlane.blogspot.com/2010/03/missing-in-action-once-again.html
So I want to thank my dear friend, Asher, for inviting me and my friends, Grenville for offering to drive, Beatrice for her company, Mehmet for being my dinner companion, Ülkü and her friends for preparing a wonderful dinner, and the Turkish community for sharing a special occasion with us.
I am still smiling. Çok teşekkür ederim.