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Turkish Q&A

What is the meaning of the sediment from this Turkish coffee?

Umut, our tour guide, spotted three rings which represent roads and traveling. This was Bree’s coffee cup, and she’s been to 37 countries so that’s an accurate reading! Umut claimed he didn’t know how to read a coffee cup but his mother did. When we pressed him however, he revealed his prowess.

Why do all the dogs in Istanbul have their ears tagged?

The Turkish people are animal lovers. They’ve recently passed a law “to ensure that animals are afforded a comfortable life.” The penalty for hurting an animal includes jail time! The local municipalities neuter the dogs and tag their ears.

Why are there so many cats in Istanbul?

There is a saying, “If you have killed a cat, you need to establish a mosque to be forgiven by God.” Most Turkish citizens are Muslim, and cats are often revered in Islam. The Turks believe the cats belong to everybody and nobody. Walking along the Mediterranean coast in Antalya I saw (dare I say it?) a crazy cat lady. She was bicycling along the cliffs with water and unidentifiable slop, stopping periodically to refill containers for the cats.

Why would an intended bride prepare her suitor a disgusting cup of coffee?

When a couple is interested in becoming engaged (or when the parents desire to arrange a marriage–which still happens in rural areas) both families meet at the young woman’s home. And by families they mean siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins twice removed, etc. The families get to know each other and the young woman prepares and serves Turkish coffee for everyone, which is an important skill. The bridegroom, however, is served a cup of coffee that has been doctored with various spices like red pepper and curry. If he manages to drink it, he has passed a test proving he’s willing to be a loyal husband no matter what!

What is a caravanserai?

Anciently, caravanserais were used along the Silk Road as roadside inns. The space between them was typically the distance a camel could travel in a day. They protected travelers from the elements and danger. If the weather conditions were harsh, travelers would sleep with their animals for warmth. This caravanserai, Sultan Han, was recently restored and is the largest in Turkey.

Why is there a hole in the middle of these flasks?

These flasks were originally designed by the Hittites, who established an empire in Anatolia around 1650 BC. They were designed to conveniently serve wine with the flask resting on your shoulder. We visited a famous pottery studio situated in caves, like so many structures in Cappadocia. The owner’s family has been there over two hundred years! The potter molded the entire flask from a single lump of clay. I couldn’t figure out how the middle cylindrical piece would be formed until he created it! And the wheel was not electric–he manually kicked it–which requires so much skill.

Who is the Father of Turkey?

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, whose face is still seen EVERYWHERE in public, gained a reputation when he said to his soldiers in Gallipoli, “I don’t order you to fight, I order you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other troops and commanders can come
and take our places.” At the end of WWI he refused to accept losing large portions of Turkey to Greece, France, Italy, and Britain. He organized the people in a war of independence and created the Republic of Turkey. He became the first president and worked to modernize Turkey and establish a secular state. His majestic memorial in Ankara, the capital, reflects his revered national presence. It was touching to see so many grandparents and parents teaching their children about Ataturk’s contribution to their country. Watch Erdogan: The Dictator’s Republic on Amazon Prime to see why many citizens are concerned about the future of Turkey.

Why are there always two coffee pots to serve tea?

The tea is brewed in the top pot and water is brewed in the bottom pot because the tea is so strong. Hot water is added to the tea when served. These pictures were taken when we had dinner with a local family in Cappadocia. They served us tomato soup, salad, beans, sliced eggplant stuffed with meat, and fruit compote with grapes from their own vines. Their marriage was arranged, and the bride’s mother had woven a carpet as part of the brides dowry, which is a tradition! They were a lovely, generous family.

Can you identify this site, which is among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

It is the Temple of Artemis. It’s hard to imagine the grandeur of this temple in its present state. For extra credit points, name the other Wonders of the Ancient World! Here are the answers.

What famous American singer, songwriter, and guitarist has a side gig as a tour guide in Turkey?

Is it John Mayer?!? It’s not, but don’t you think he could be John Mayer’s double?? This is our superb tour guide, Umut, who goes above and beyond for everyone of the travelers. Thanks Umut!

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