Pictured: a salad, pickled: tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower and cucumbers, pickled beets, a potato dish with scallions and herbs, haydari (tzatziki sauce), and the host’s speciality: ezme, a dish of peppers, tomatoes, spices and herbs.
We were invited to Umut’s friend’s home where I was instantly welcomed, as if we had known each other for years. Typical of Turkish hospitality, so I was not surprised. It was an occasion since it was the first time we were finally meeting – a good reason to celebrate.
Typical celebrations call for eating meze and drinking rakı, the two go hand in hand.
A variety of small cold dishes served to accompany drinking rakı.
The Turkish (unofficial) national drink, made from fermented grapes flavored with anise. A strong, clear alcohol that becomes cloudy once mixed with water.
SETTING THE TABLE
A rakı table typically gathers around 8pm and lasts long after midnight. The place setting was set with two rakı glasses, one for rakı and the other for water. The table was filled with meze for all to share.
The rakı is served cold, the host pours the rakı and asks if you want water and ice in it. Once everyone is served, it’s time to toast.
To toast, Şerefe, cheers in Turkish. When toasting, you clink the bottom of the glasses. (Be careful, if you touch the top of someone’s glass it implies that you think you’re better than them). By toasting it means you’re inviting friendship and good conversation. Rakı should be sipped (not taken like a shot) and enjoyed simultaneously while eating meze.