Goliard Scholar: 1998

Katherine E. Kuster, A Turkish Culinary Tour

"Do not dismiss the dish saying that it is just, simply food. The blessed
thing in an entire civilization in itself!"
                                             -Abdulhak Sinesi

        As a child grows within the society in which it was born, one of the first inducements of its socialization is food. A child is conditioned to like to eat the things that everyone else also likes to eat. This socialization is so successful that years later, though enjoying the sampling of foods of many other cultures, he will still find most comforting the food he first ate. Not only is food a bond to the present society, but it is also a bond to the past. For example, the history of the Turkish region of Anatolia spans 1000 years and the culture of the city has held onto the foods of those 1000 years. Eating there, one can literally ingest history!
        Turkey has been throughout its history a gateway for the East and the West, and also a powerful conquering nations. Turkey also dominated the Spice Road for many years.  The result is a strong identity of Turkishness, with hints of European and Asian flavors, producing a unique, interesting cuisine.
        I plan to travel to Turkey to discover its cuisine. I will explore the markets, learn the properties of the spices, sample the foods, and learn to prepare them myself. I plan on visiting the spice markets of Istanbul, and the morning markets of the various smaller towns. I hope that shop keepers of sweet and bread stores will be kind enough to let me tour through their kitchens. I also hope to spend time in a home environment, and learn various recipes and family dishes from "Mom." The most thrilling opportunity would be a more formal dinner or, hopefully, a wedding feast!
        When learning the cuisine of a country or culture, one also learns of the culture surrounding the food. Certain winter foods, certain summer foods, some only for this feast or that, the utensils, the method of serving, the preferred environment in which to eat... all reveal the culture of those who eat. Moreover, the communal act of eating together, with good food and good company, can be memorable and sublime. My best memories are of food shared.
        I believe in the culture of food and its central place in our lives. I look forward to adding Turkish food to my knowledge and skill and thank the Goliard committee for giving me this opportunity. Of course, a banquet for you will be forthcoming upon my return!