November 22, 2014

Saturday Adventure Mix

My latest adventure in Turkey involved honeycomb, acting, a mini propane tank, 40 coats, Arby's sauce and a cinema intermission.

I think I may have just ruined any hope of punch-lines in the following recount of my day's events, but let's see.

My days started at 9:00 AM when I woke up from a deep, though short sleep. We had friends over for the first time last night, and it was a lot of fun, but we stayed up a lot later than usual. We had to wake up at a reasonable time though, in order to make it to our Turkish breakfast on time. Our Turkish teacher had arranged a breakfast and cultural event for us. The breakfast was held in the staff dining room on campus, the same place where we eat lunch every day. I think I've raved about Turkish breakfast before, and this one did not disappoint. The Turkish breakfast involves about 100 small plates of the following: black and green olives, assorted cheeses, honeycomb and clotted cream (superb combo on bread), bread, pancake-like bread, savory pastries, pepper and onion omlette, spicy sausage, tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course--tea. The plates of these things are dispersed around the table so that everyone is within arm's reach of everything. It's all delicious and incredibly filling. During the breakfast, our teacher and some of our Turkish colleagues (who were invited to spur more Turkish conversation in the group) helped us with vocabulary and were very patient with our halting sentences.

After breakfast, we all went to our school building for a presentation about the process of asking a woman's hand in marriage. Our teacher, Fatma, explained how the families get together for an evening and exchange small talk and ceremonial blessings on the couple. The process includes a coffee and chocolates service, done by the bride-to-be. Turkish tradition holds that the bride-to-be should replace sugar with salt in the groom's cup, and then the whole party watches as he tries not to wince while drinking. His drinking of the disgusting brew symbolizes his commitment to his wife through thick and thin, and when directly translated, "drinking poison from her hands." We then practiced cooking turkish coffee over a mini propane tank. I volunteered to make coffee for the 15 people in attendance, because I kind of know my way around a "cezve" (turkish coffee brewer), but I can say that making 1 or 2 cups at home is a lot different from trying to time the preparation of 15. M attempt was mostly successful though, and we all enjoyed small cups of coffee together. Once we were  re-caffienated, we tried to act out the Turkish family gathering. Alan and I were the prospective bride and groom, so we had important roles in the action. However, as tradition dictates, two of our male classmates playing the father characters had the most lines in our little play. The show was pretty hilarious, as we hadn't practiced. In the end, our "fathers" consented to our marriage, so all was well.

After the events at school, several of us decided to go downtown to the major shopping center, Kayseri Forum. We stood in the cold, sleeting weather at the bus stop for no less than 50 minutes watching as the hour's only bus--packed full--cruised by us without even stopping. Then we gave in and called a taxi.

Safely at Forum, the hotspot of activity in Kayseri, Alan and I set off on a mission to find me a winter-weather coat. I started in a department store with a wide selection of coats. Every clerk greeted me, but only one was brave enough to deal with the foreigner. The small man bravely perservered, handing me coat after coat to try. I (and sometimes Alan) managed to reject around 40 coats in that store, on the basis of fit, color, boringness, matronlyness, sleeve length, and tacky buckles. As the Turks say, "Ooof ya." What a let down. We headed back out into the mall, and I suggested that we visit a store where the clothes are generally a little less expensive, but where there are copious choices. After nearly giving up, I spotted a cute navy-purple pea coat hybrid lined with white fleece. I tried it on, and angels sang. I swear. Or at least I was too exhausted to try on more. I picked out a tartan plaid warm scarf and headed to the register.

Alan's compromise for shopping with me was that we see the new Hunger Games movie in Forum's cinema. Before watching, we stopped at Arby's (yeah, they exist in Turkey) for some Chipotle Sandvi├žler and curly fries. They really need to import Arby's sauce to Turkish Arby's--that's all I have to say about that.

The movie was a fun change of pace, though I can't say it was my favorite of the Hunger Games series. One interesting part of the Turkish cinema is the 10-minute intermission mid film. A chance to empty your bladder, get another popcorn (yes, they have it), or--the most likely--take a smoke break. What a quirk. I love it. Someone else in the audience recogninzed us form school and boldly introduced himself. It was a little weird, but kind of made me feel like a celebrity.

As usual, our last stop at Forum was to the big grocery store with the wine aisle. I stocked up--four bottles--because my favorite wine was on sale. YES!

So, that was my big day. I'm tired. I've got a glass of wine. Life is good.