Turkish people stereotypes
Placing the lovely, fresh walnuts on a baking pan to roast, my husband remarks “why are you spending all of this money on breakfast for your colleagues – do other people do this?” We are making ezme, a purée akin to hummus that consists of red peppers, lemon juice, walnuts, garlic, tomato and pomegranate syrup, etc., well, that’s how I make it anyway, there are lots of variations across Turkey. With a big sigh, I finish mincing the garlic and reach for the pomegranate syrup. “I want them to learn a bit about Turkey – whether they want to or not – you know, like Malcolm X, by any means necessary. I am troubled that the Middle East is some big ‘other’ that can be generalized into some vitriolic mullah or blue-sheeted lady in pain. I want them to know more and this is my stealth way of doing it – most people bring coffee and donuts, but I wanted something healthy and interesting too.”
As we move to the counter to peel the charred skin off of the red peppers, my husband chuckles, telling me “this is one of the reasons I love you so much, you are such an idealist in this way – usually you are more of a cynic. I want to be honest, though, I do not think most people will get it.” Feeling deflated, Hacivad tells me to keep it low and slow on the emotional front, but I am pissed. Karagöz is needling me, poking his pointer finger into my shoulder over and over, ready to make me engage in some sort of angry outburst about how wrong my husband is, insisting he learn about cultural sensitivity trainings “the authentic way.” All I can muster is “Rome was not built in a day, and neither was Istanbul.” Smirking in the loving manner only he can do, he just turns to tending the roasting walnuts and making sure that they don’t brown too too much.
It is 2009, I am making ezme for a Turkish-style breakfast I am offering at work during our monthly meeting. In my idealistic mind, it is a small way that I am trying to raise awareness of Turkey, of the Middle East, of the culture (if it can be lumped into one) that I have become a part of or the culture that has touched me some. I am carrying brown grocery bags up the hill into my building, hoping to race the rain so that the glass jars of home made ezme do not fall and crash on the asphalt.
Hacivad, indelibly marked by his non-stop academic attitude and commentary is right along with me on my shoulder, supervising the entire breakfast-spread preparation process. “You have to set up the educational Powerpoint on Turkey next to the cheese, not the jam, this will be the most effective spot., ” he pronounces. Karagöz is nowhere to be found. I am feeling proud of my effort – and perhaps at the same time a little too full of myself today – doing this good deed for the knowledge of my colleagues. It is for the latter reason that I am surprised that Karagöz is not screaming in my ear and highlighting this insecurity with wild enthusiasm like he normally does.