Waxing and Homonyms

On Wednesday I did something I have been wanting to do for a while, yet at the same time dreading it.

For weeks I have not been shaving so I could participate in the Turkish practice of waxing.

Turkish women wax their body hair as culturally body hair on women is considered unclean.   They wax *everything*.  I asked my friend about the practice, she said that she waxed everything in the past, even her arms.  She gave me a recommendation for a waxer.  Then she demonstrated the depth of her friendship.  She called, made my appointment (I did not have the necessary Turkish vocabulary,) and then told me she would meet me there to translate what I wanted to the esthetician.  She did say I was on my own for the waxing–which is best for our friendship considering the positions I had to assume.

While it was not butterflies and kittens the waxing was not nearly as painful as I thought it would be.  Actually, it was not really painful at all, though that may be due to the skill of the esthetician.  It was an interesting process, and also interesting to think that a majority of Turkish women do this on a regular basis.  While I was assimilating culturally I also found my first Turkish homonyms

Aci—means spicy.  Aci—also means hurt.  So at first  was confused when she said, “This will be a little bit spicy.” (in Turkish.)  However the word confusion was quickly cleared up when a large chunk of hair was removed.

Bir az aci= This will hurt a little

The second homonym is “paket.”  In Turkish “Alo Paket,” means take out.  In a restaurant if you ask for “paket,” it means take home package otherwise known as a “Doggie Bag.”  As it turns out “paket” also means the nether regions.   So when an esthetician asks you if you want a “paket” wax that means both front and back and everything in between.

Both words are good to know.  Beware yabancis, if you ask for paket in the wrong context you may end up getting something you were not expecting.

Turkish Ev Yemek (Home Cooking)

We had dinner at Bulent’s aunt’s home the other night.  It is always a treat because she is a great cook.  It is also really fun because I get to practice my Turkish with her.  She is really patient and so excited by my progression in Turkish that she heaps on tons of compliments (positive reinforcement) and I always feel really confident speaking with here which actually raises my language level.

This is one of my favorite foods.  Eggplant salad.  She roasts the eggplant ( it has that yummy charred taste), and then mashes it.  After she adds yogurt and garlic that she has pulverized with a mortar and pestle (it has a different taste from a garlic press when you process it that way, I have no idea why.)  It is creamy and tangy and just amazing.

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You can’t see this well because of the decoration of eggs and tomatoes but this is piyaz, a cold white bean salad, made with onions, parsley and apple vinegar.

013 These are whole stuffed artichoke hearts, stuffed with peas and carrots and potatoes, topped with dill.  They are considered an “olive oil” dish and served cold.

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Below is a vegetable rice pilaf molded and served with green onions on top.

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This is how they serve steak in Turkey.  Meat is never eaten rare in Turkey.  This is called bonfile or tenderloin.  was cooked casserole style with tomato sauce and mushrooms topped with cheese.

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She really went all out with the food that night.  This is great because I am still learning how to cook Turkish foods, and seeing and eating it give me a better idea of how and what to prepare.

One Year Anniversary

I have been in Turkey for one year.  A full year of living in a country where I am not part of the hegemonic culture.  Being an outsider in a different land has allowed me to observe Turkish culture closely and learn more about my own.  When your culture is not the mainstream culture, it is easy to see what your own culture is, since it contrasts with the culture around you.  It has been a great year, and a fun one, filled with food, travels and excitement.  Things have changed a little since I started working again, become more routine.  However, life is still fun and exciting.  We are finding our niche, making friends.  It always takes a while to make a new city “home.”  We are finding our favorite places, our favorite restaurants, bars and hangouts.  The process in itself is fun and exciting. I am sure the next year in Turkey will be just as great as the first.

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Family Times Ahead

I looked at the Calendar and all of a sudden we are way into January.  Crazy!  Where did the year go?  January means two things, the first is that my awesome cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Jake, are coming to visit.  It will be amazing and it will be Turkish Foodapaloza.  Jake is totally into food, so I will be using that as an excuse to eat my own weight in just about everything, of course while introducing him to the best and tastiest of Turkish foods.  I will try to record it. 

The second Family Event that January brings is a visit HOME! I will be going home for two AMAZING, WONDERFUL weeks.   I love being with my family, and cannot wait to go home. 

PS: Family I will be wanting Pork. Ham. Bacon. Bacon. Ham.  PORK!  Weird how you always want what you can’t have. 

Holiday then Bash

Last week was the Kurban Bayram, the Islamic holiday of sacrifice.  I will give details later but I am recovering.  We had a half day of work on Thursday which was great because it coincided with Thanksgiving, then Friday and Monday off.  A short week of work really, but it has really smacked me around. I have not been sleeping well, just waking up in the middle of the the night.  I keep thinking it is time to get up and then it is 2am.  That is the problem about going to work when it is still dark.

The two days off from school apparently gave my students rule amnesia and they have been particularly challenging.  There is also an exam coming up and I am trying to stuff their heads full of knowledge, and they would rather play.  It has made for a stressful week.  Tomorrow I have a conference to go to, so no sleeping in.  However I am looking forward to it, and as I am a participant not a leader I am not expecting it to be a difficult day.  It is weeks like this which make me am glad I love teaching.  Actually liking what I do gives me more patience.

More will be forthcoming about the Kurban Bayram as soon as I am not sleep deprived.