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A chat with Blue Turtle 2

By Huguette Eyüboğlu…

You have barely settled in your new surroundings that the requirements of social life will catch up with you! Your first test is most likely to be a diner invitation at the home of a Turkish colleague or new family you have just met. You ma have to improvise and rely entirely upon your intuition and mange fairly well, or you may end up highly stressed wondering if you did anything wrong. Just follow these few tips we are offering you and your evening will progresses without difficulty.

Since this is a first visit to your new friends, avoid dressing to casually. The Turks are not yet used to see guests arriving in shorts unless you are in a resort town and the temperature is 40C. Second rule, never arrive empty handed, without a small gift for the hosts. Take the time to buy flowers, or sweets such as baklava, or a pastry, a bottle of rakı or a bottle of wine, even maple sirup you brought from home.

One of the great qualities of foreigners is being on time! This feature is rare in Turkey. The traffic being awful and unpredictable, it is often difficult to evaluate the time required to reach your destination. Allow yourself a good period of time to compensate for the possible delays.

In some houses, they may expect you to remove your shoes. A quick look at the entrance will provide you the information if such is the case. An other custom not to popular with foreigners, requires that you kiss the hand of an elderly person and bring it to your forehead. It is considered a sign of respect, so remember that if you are introduced to a grand mother or elderly person. May may also be offered some Cologne water to wipe your hands...

Once seated at the table, be ready for what appears to be an everlasting coming and going of food, beginning with cold and warm starters (meze) then meat or fish according to what the main dish is, to be followed by rice (pilav), finally the dessert, fruits, tea or coffee. The national drink is rakı usually drank with water and ice in the same glass, or drank dry in one glass with a second glass for the water and the ice. This explains why a buffet is not the favorite eating style of this country. Many families will drink wine with you if you prefer.

A meal will usually last several hours. The conversation will be lively and pleasant, usually they love to talk, exchange ideas and discuss. They will even solve all the problems of the country. This is the charm of rakı drinking! They may be harsh in criticizing their country but refrain from doing such a thing, because they are very sensitive to comments done by foreigners. The hostess will do everything to please you and serve you, insisting so charmingly that you may not be able to refuse food you may feel is to heavy or improper for you. Make an effort to eat at least a spoonful of everything she will serve you.

Time will fly and the first thing you will know, it will quite late, and I am sure your evening will have been most pleasant. Enjoy yourself!

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 By switch  3.2.2007


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