Thursday, May 18, 2006

bits and pieces

One of the random connections on our recent trip to Turkey had to do with C. S. Lewis.

Ever since I first read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe I've wondered what Turkish Delight was like. I wonder no more. Every shop in Istanbul's Spice Bazaar offered free samples. I not only had my fill, but also found out there are as many varieties of the stuff (called lokum in Turkish) as there are booths in the Spice Bazaar.

I knew I was going to make that connection.

We were in a pottery workshop and one of the plates had the logo of one of the Turkish football teams (soccer for American readers) and a lion was part of the logo. The word under the lion said, "Aslan." Aslan is the Turkish word for lion.

Based on a few minutes with Google, I'm certainly not the first to make the connection, or to wonder if Lewis had some sort of fascination with Turkey, but I had never heard anyone make the connection before our trip. Lewis never visited Turkey as far as I can tell. I wonder how he found the word.

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Two Turkish words in particular will stay with me.

The first is dondurma: ice cream. I wanted my vocabulary to be as useful as possible. This was the first word I learned and it served me well. Turkish ice cream is worth the trip all by itself.

The second word is çay (pronouned "chy"), which means tea. This one was easy because the word is pronounced the same in Swahili, though spelled differently (chai) and means the same thing. Of course, thanks to Starbucks and other savvy beverage marketers, "Chai" in America is an expensive concoction of I'm not sure what, though I think tea is involved at some level. In Turkey, çay is black tea served with sugar in a small hourglass-shaped glass and is offered anytime you are around someone for more than two or three minutes. It's awesome.

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Before we left on our trip, I took a disposable camera that had been in my Jeep for several months to CVS to get developed. (Actually, I took it there about a month before we left; we had no idea what pictures might come back. I picked them up today. All of the images were from late last summer and last fall. One of them is the main reason I wanted to write tonight. I just wanted you too see this picture. Whenever I pick up Gracie, our youngest Schnauzer, I wrap my arms around her and let her legs dangle. She then begins to kiss my face with complete abandon, totally trusting that I won't let go. And I never do.

Peace,
Milton

5 comments:

Amy said...

Your blog is a perfect mixture of food and wisdom.

One of the first words I learned in Italy was "Gelato" (along with "dove e il bagno?")...came in very handy, I found my most commonly used phrase was "piccolo cioccolato gelato per favore?"

I'm glad all of us here in internet land got a taste (haha) of your trip!

raj said...

yes, thanks for sharing your trip!
"Chai" is also Hindi for tea. I believe that the Starbucks version may well be based on what my Indian grandmother calls "masala chai" (spiced tea). It is very milky, sweetened, and flavoured with cardamom, cloves, sometimes cinnamon, and occasionally things like star anise. They are all boiled in the pot with the tea leaves, and then strained out, the milk and sugar are added, and it is yummy.

gander said...

This all reminds me of an old Firesign Theater bit:

"We will now learn three new words in Turkish:

Bath.
Towel.
Border. May I see you passport please?"

Anyway, thank you, Milton. Welcome home.

don't eat alone said...

Raj

My guess is neither the Turkish people nor the Africans were orignial; I'll bet "chai" must have traveled the trade routes and kept its name.

Peace,
Milton

sumuklubocek said...

hi Milton,
with you permission, I would like to use your "Çay" image in my blog.
Thanks,
Sumuklubocek (snail in Turkish ;) )