Showing posts with label American culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American culture. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Jubilant American Summer, Part One

Loving Life in Chicago
Summer of 2014
This summer I spent two-and-a-half months back in America. It was the longest I'd been home since becoming an expat six years earlier. It was fantastic to spend quality time with my family.
We called this
"Take-Your-Mother-to-Work-Day."
Since my youngest daughter had an internship in Chicago for the summer, I decided to make the city of Chicago my base. Chicago is so spectacular, so joyfully sublime, so wonderfully world-class, I was just pinching myself every day there.
My new Brazilian friend,
Isabela, from Sao Paulo,
whom I met in Chicago.
We explored the Magritte show
at the Art Institute together.
I have been to Chicago many times. My daughter had to work most days, so my friend, Isabela, and I bought City Passes (a packet full of coupons to get into all the top museums at a discount - a great value that I highly recommend) and thus I started on a summer of experiencing every single main attraction as it if was new to me.
It was scary to stand
 in these glass boxes.
The attractions were new too! Every main attraction had added something new to bring people back. For example, the Sear's "Willis" Tower, now has those glass boxes where you go out and stand on glass 100 floors up (that's a lot harder to do than it looks without freaking out, especially given that one of them had developed cracks the week before).
Magritte says "this is not a pipe."
It is, after all,
just a picture of a pipe.
The Art Institute had an amazing Magritte show, his first comprehensive retrospective in 65 years. 

I went to the Field Museum to see the show on the World's Fair, but was blown away instead by the exhibit they had created on bio-mechanics, easily the finest science exhibition I have seen in five years.
I literally paused in reverence
in front of this fantastic
American art form,
the root beer float,
created at the Museum of Science and Industry's
old-fashioned ice cream parlor. 
And then I ate it!
video
 At the Shedd Aquarium
(the largest and oldest aquarium
in the Western Hemisphere)
there was an exhibit where you
could touch sting-rays.
How cool is that?!?
 The Adler Planetarium
had state-of-the-art
shows about the cosmos,
but I found myself responding
to the original fixtures,
including these fabulous
art deco iconic representations
original to the building.

I was fascinated by this
old-time, low-cost
mechanical way of teaching people
about the night sky in their own city
at the Planetarium.
A box car of visitors
goes into the sphere
with a guide
who points out the constellations
made by the pinpricks of light
that have been punched into
the sphere.
They show up perfectly in the dark.
This contraption is 100 years old!
It's still going strong.

Look, World!
This is the planet's largest
public library building.
I can't even fit it into one photo.
Who built it?
My people, Midwesterners!
The exquisite Winter Garden
on the top floor of
Chicago Public Library.
Boo-yah!
This is the greatness of my country.
We are a marketplace of ideas
where the people themselves
are entrusted to evaluate them.
I was grateful to see
Senator William Fulbright's
words on the walls
at Chicago Public Library.
I fear his wisdom is being forgotten
Before becoming an expat
I wouldn't have noticed
or understood how wonderful it is
that this spectacular Chicago synagogue
doesn't require 24/7 police protection.
That is not true
everywhere in the world.
May it ever be so in my country.
While in Chicago,
I watched a Palestinian protest
about Gaza
go through the streets
of Chicago.
I was struck by how the police
led and followed the demonstration
protecting the people demonstrating.
After watching Turkey's
best-educated youth
tear gassed all year
for wanting
to protect
Taksim Square's Gezi Park,
I was so grateful watching how this
Chicago protest was handled.
When I stepped up to
the police officer to say thanks,
he said,
"we are all about the first Amendment
and the exercise of free speech in Chicago."
I immediately teared up.
I was so damn grateful
for this attitude.


Being an expat makes
my gratitude
for America's
accomplishments even greater.
Rotary International started in Chicago.
I've been in four different Rotary Clubs
across America.
If you're a Rotarian,
I'd just like to say "thank you,"
for all that
you've done to help end polio.
If you're not familiar with Rotary,
let me tell you.
Each Rotarian, around the world,
doing their small part,
has collaborated to eliminate polio worldwide.
Rotarians are almost done,
 since there
are usually less than
5,000 cases a year globally.
Know a Rotarian? Thank them.
Don't know what polio is?
Thank them again!
This is Jenn and Alex,
my very first AirBnB hosts.
Jenn and Alex
were fantastic to stay with
while I was in Chicago.
This is the typical Chicago beach
two blocks from their house.
They taught me about Uber too
while I was there.
Plotting my explorations of Chicago
in Grant Park.

I'll share my very favorite thing
I was able to experience in Chicago
for the first time.

First and last photos
courtesy of Chicago photographer
Peter Yankala

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Meeting Chuck Hunter, a visit to the home of the U.S. Consul General in Istanbul

Consul General
Charles (Chuck) F. Hunter and me.
Note the spectacular suzani
in the background.
This year, we have a new Consul General in Istanbul, as Consul General Scott Kilner has retired from the foreign service and his three-year mission to Istanbul was finished.

Our new Consul General is named Chuck Hunter. He was born in Wisconsin, and attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, like his father and grandfather. Raised in California, he attended Stanford University for his M.A. and PhD. He speaks French, Arabic, and Turkish in addition to English. 

Chuck is an openly gay foreign service officer. This *is* history. After all, it was just a few years ago, that the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was ended in the American military. That policy required gay people to be inauthentic if they wanted to serve their country. Those days are over.

My country is actively expanding the spectrum of Americans who represent it, and I find that to be fantastic. The American economic dream may be in trouble for the lower and middle classes, but gosh darn it, our democracy is becoming more diversified. Indeed, I read just the other day that a Native American woman, a member of the Hopi Tribe, was appointed to be a federal judge. If that isn't exciting, I don't know what is.
I love being represented
by a State Department diplomat
who is a young mother
of a 15-month-old child.
Go America Go!
Pictured above, me with
Deputy Principal Officer
Deborah R. Munnuti
Me and Zlatana Jovanovic-Dicker from Kosovo.
Zlatana is an architect and
married to American
Craig Dicker,
General Public Affairs Officer
of the American mission.
and me giggling at the fun
of being two Americans enjoying
exotic Turkish divans
and Middle Eastern tables
inlaid with mother-of-pearl
at the Consul General's home.
A pinch me, "We're living in Istanbul!" moment.
Celebrating a shared moment together
as Americans in Istanbul:
and our Consul General Chuck Hunter.
A wonderfully uplifting morning!

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Friday, May 23, 2014

A Fete for Fulbrights and Friends


 My Turkish Breakfast
If someone were to ask me what I did this last weekend, I could only reply "have breakfast." Besides the uplifting breakfast I had at Olga's on Sunday, I also held a small 'Fete for Fulbright Scholars and Friends' on Saturday.
Three incredibly dynamic young women
who inspire me:
Dr. Öykü Üluçay (she is Turkish),
Caitlin Nettleson, an American
about to finish her Fulbright year,
and Cassandra Puhls,
a Fulbrighter interested in
international education policy.
When I was young, it was always older people who inspired me. Lately, I've been finding it's the twenty-somethings (including my own children) who are touching my heart and filling me with hope for the future.

In Istanbul, I realized I knew several young Fulbright Scholars. I wanted to celebrate their excellence and give them an opportunity to meet or see those who are from a different year than theirs, plus introduce them to a few other dynamic young people who also inspire me. Not all of them could come. For example, one of them was getting married that day. 
"The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of highly competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the Fulbright program, competitively selected U.S. citizens may become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad; and citizens of other countries may qualify to do the same in the United States. 
The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide, operating in over 155 countries. Fifty-three Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes; seventy-eight have won Pulitzer Prizes. More Nobel laureates are former Fulbright recipients than any other award program. 
The program was established to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills." ~ from Wikipedia, May 21, 2014 
I was grateful for a spectacular Spring Day
so we could enjoy the garden.
American Fulbrighter
Abigail Bowman,
and her Turkish friend
Mert Tuncer.
Fellow Iowan Abigail Bowman graduates this June with her M.A. in Ottoman History from Sabancı University here in Istanbul.

When Abby was in 7th grade, she had to write a paper on a revolutionary or a reformer. Her uncle suggested the founder of the Turkish Republic, Atatürk.

Abby's paper and presentation made it all the way to 8th place nationally in America's National History Day competition. The Atatürk Society of America was so thrilled that this young student honored their leader, they sent her to Turkey to experience the country when she was a 9th grader. A lifelong interest in Turkey began to grow.

Anybody who knows Turkey can imagine how Turkish people respond to Abby when she says she wrote a paper on Atatürk in 7th grade.
I was so happy Fulbrighter
Elizabeth Rocas could come.
She brought her visiting American
friend from the States, Jacqueline.
Fulbrighter Niko Dimitrioğlu
 and Elizabeth Rocas
discovering they both speak Greek.
What else does Niko speak?
English, French, Uyghur,
Afghan Persian (Dari),
and Manderin Chinese.
Visiting Texan Shane Largo
represented another
inspiring young American
living here in Istanbul
but unable to make it to breakfast:
her daughter
Katy Herrera.


These young Fulbrighters who are sent out into the world to contribute to, explore, research and develop expertise in different countries are such a wonderful investment in America's future. Frankly, it is such a strategic investment. What could save America more money on wrong moves internationally than subject experts who can advise policy makers on given countries and cultures?

You'd think that would be an easy sell in Washington D.C. You'd be wrong. America simply does not invest as much as other countries in its international experts, even much smaller countries like Russia! For example, the Russians have over 16 ambassadors with more than five years of experience, the Americans have none! (Political scientist Ian Bremmer, Twitter, May 2014).

Salon puts current funding for the Fulbright program at around $234.5 million a year. Next year, a $30 million cut is proposed.

There is no constituency to argue for increasing the funding, save the alumni. The Fulbright Program doesn't create any jobs at home. It doesn't result in hefty contracts for American corporations. 

So this blog post is a message in a bottle to my fellow Americans. When I read about how the Fulbright program funding is in trouble, and I know the quality of the people who go through the program, I want to share with my fellow Americans a wish to keep this program not just alive, but growing.

It seems like common sense to invest in folks who understand other countries and cultures deeply via a non-militarized way. Intercultural exchange is a way to promote a more peaceful and prosperous world. I ask Americans to support continued, and even increasing, funding of the Fulbright program from now until the future.


I invite you to follow the Empty Nest Expat blog on Facebook!

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Talking about "My People, Iowans," to the Travel Junkies

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President Obama in Prague!

"We are here because enough people ignored the voices who told them the world could not change" 




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When the Olympics Come to Your Country, What Will the Athletes Wear?

The German Olympic Team exhibiting pride

The Olympics this year are in Russia, a country still trying to catch up from a disastrous century. Because of this legacy, Russia culture is not exactly leading the world in thought leadership. They are still catching up. For example, Russia is not so safe for a black or gay person to visit. Russians are famously bigoted.

The world wants to let Russia know they disapprove, and they have generally done so in a firm, obvious, yet loving way.

It made me wonder, what message will the world send to the next country that gets the Olympics? Is this the start of a new political tradition, where Olympic committees and corporate sponsors combine to poke fun at old ways of thinking? What will the athletes need to wear to send your people a message when they come to your country? What will Google and other corporations need to incorporate into their messaging? 

The Google Doodle exhibits Rainbow Pride

There are so many messages the world could send my country, America, they might have a hard time sticking to one! 

Would the athletes all dress up as dollar bills and ask America to stop endlessly adding to its debt since this is hurting emerging economies, not to mention, our own? 

Would the athletes all dress up like Lily Tomlin at the phone company to demand America stop spying on the world? After all, there's a STASI museum in Berlin decrying surveillance behaviors as evil. America once engaged in a Cold War against these behaviors; now the President of the United States defends them. Has America's NSA become just as ridiculous as Lily Tomlin's phone company operator? It kind of makes you wonder who actually *did* win the Cold War. Maybe the Russians are thought leaders, after all?

What if the world decided to poke fun at us for being so selfish that we as a nation are currently okay with 50 million people living without health insurance? That's the equivalent of five Czech Republics worth of people! Or ten Denmarks! Maybe it would take being teased by the world for America to finally step up and enact the public option so that all people have equal access to health care?

Or what if all the countries we keep invading organized the world into asking America to stop the imperialism? I don't know how that would translate into Olympic fashion. I'm sure some creative mind could make it happen. 

It seems to me, the list of what the world could 'poke fun' at America for is long. The question is, which issue would they pick?

The Olympics may turn into a tradition of sport supplemented with a world contest of public comedy on the side. It will be interesting to watch this develop. What would the athletes and corporations tease your country about? 

You may be interested in these other Olympic-related posts: 

Bravo David Černý! You Have Europe Giggling Again. This time with your Red London Double Decker Bus doing pushups!



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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Recommended Reading for Thoughtful Americans: "The Limits of Power" by Andrew J. Bacevich

Andrew J. Bacevich
I have wanted to read the book "The Limits of Power" ever since hearing Andrew J. Bacevich at the Wisconsin Book Festival a few years back. An idea he expressed there that made my jaw drop was that America's empire building was the activity of citizens uninterested in reforming their own nation.

Referring to the work of United States theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (author of the serenity prayer), Bacevich felt expansionist militaristic activity represented almost an addict's way of denying the reality that there are "limits to power."

His book was just as compelling as the talk I had originally heard. I admired his ability to dissect American thinking from within America.

Bacevich urges readers not to look to their politicians with blame for their dependence on foreign oil, necessary military expansion to access it, and demands that the world conform to America's way of thinking. He argues the politicians have just sold Americans what they want to buy: a foreign policy based on grandiosity without the budget or wherewithal to achieve it.
“History will not judge kindly a people who find nothing amiss in the prospect of endless armed conflict so long as they themselves are spared the effects. Nor will it view with favor an electorate that delivers political power into the hands of leaders unable to envision any alternative to perpetual war.
Rather than insisting the world accommodate the United States, Americans need to reassert control over their own destiny, ending their condition of dependency and abandoning their imperial delusions. “ - page 13
I found this to be deeply inspiring, deeply patriotic reading. Bacevich asks Americans to ask more of themselves. Bacevich's book made me want to read everything else he has written. He has a new book soon to come out called "Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country."
 
"The Limits of Power" is part of a whole series of titles called "The American Empire Project" devoted to asking Americans to consider whether empire is the highest expression of the American idea. More titles can be found at www.americanempireproject.com
 
If you would like to hear an interview with Andrew J. Bacevich from when the book was published, click here for part one. To learn more about this public intellectual who attracts interest from both sides of the political aisle, click here. 
 
Andrew J. Bacevich believes Americans are still in denial and not ready to face that we are choosing a life of dependency on foreign oil and credit. He says there is nothing in the preamble to the Constitution to try and "remake the World in our image" and our perpetual war to 'spread freedom' actually detracts from freedom at home.
 
While Americans view our projection of military power as a strength, Bacevich actually argues our perpetual war is a way of delaying our acknowledgement that we have chosen to squander our power (and our moral authority, when we choose global preemptive war) for our generation and generations to come.
 
An example from the book of what Americans should be working on vs. what we are working on:
For the United States, abolishing nuclear weapons ought to be an urgent national security priority. So too should preserving our planet. These are the meta-challenges of our time. Addressing them promises to be the work of decades. Yet ridding the world of nuclear weapons is likely to prove far more plausible and achievable than ridding the world of evil [something Bush said he would do - an example of American foreign policy grandiosity]. Transforming humankind's relationship to the environment, which will affect the way people live their daily lives, can hardly prove more difficult than transforming the Greater Middle East, which requires changing the way a billion or more Muslims think. -page 178
What do you think? Is American engagement with the world attempting that which we can not pay for or even accomplish (eliminating evil, establishing Western democracy in countries that don't have it)? What's your view? How would America go about changing our priorities, especially when continuing with perpetual war and lack of reform benefits those in power?
 
 
 
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Friday, July 19, 2013

After the Trayvon Martin Verdict: Here are Ten People Who Helped Me Expand "My Circle of Compassion"

Trayvon Martin

Sometimes events at home are so dismaying I can hardly bear them. Such as it was with the Trayvon Martin verdict. This blog post is dedicated to him, my fellow American, 17-year-old, unarmed Trayvon Martin, who was killed while walking home by a white, armed, male adult.
President Barack Obama said: 
"... we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.  We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.  We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.  As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.  That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.  
One of the things President Obama asked Americans to do to deal with their pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict was to continually work to expand their circle of compassion. By listening to voices different than our own, we may come to understand what it is to walk in another person's shoes.

One of the great things about Twitter is it allows us to listen to voices different than our own in a really non-threatening way. If you're a white American who wants to do as your President humbly requested and imagine other people's realities, here are ten black American voices I would like to recommend for you to follow on Twitter. These people have helped me grow and imagine life in someone else's shoes in the four years I've been on Twitter at @emptynestexpat.

I think we should listen not only as a spiritual thing to do, but as a strategic thing to do. As our nation becomes more multicultural, the better we are able to navigate and understand our differences, the less friction there is on forward motion in the future.

Here they are:

1) Charles Consult tweets at @Charles_Consult. He's a Wisconsin native, attorney, martial arts expert and enthusiast, now living as an expat entrepreneur in the Netherlands.

2) Dr. Blair LM Kelly, an American historian and professor teaching in North Carolina. She's the author of the book "Right to Ride" about streetcar segregation. She tweets at @profblmkelley.

3) Every teenage student should be lucky enough to have a teacher as cool as Brandon David Wilson. Brandon, tweeting as @Geniusbastard, is a not only a role model in the LA Public Schools as a teacher, but he's also a cinephile, activist, and thoughtful commentator on pop culture.

4) Courtney Young is a writer, a Spellman grad, and a board member of an organization I admire called Hollaback (documenting street harassment). She's an enthusiastic book reader (I love talking books with her), and founder of Think Young Media. She tweets at @Cocacy and at @thinkyoungmedia.

5) I can count the number of inspiring American math teachers I know on one hand (in Turkey, it would take both hands and my feet...but that's another post). How about you? Do you know a lot of inspiring US math teachers? Here's one who teaches in the New York Public Schools. He is, as his bio says, "the teacher Gotham deserves." Jose Vilson, tweeting at @JLV is a math teacher, writer, and activist. He hates that it in American culture it is ok to admit math phobia; he works tirelessly to get kids excited about math. Just for that, he deserves a follow!

6) Robin Terrell is a San Francisco diversity expert who has something big in the works called "The Global Mobility Project" that is supposed to debut this summer. I'm very curious what it is, but I enjoy her tweets right here and now at @robinlterrell.
Michael Twitty
preserving and promoting
African-American foodways
7) Somebody I just started following is @koshersoul. Michael Twitty came to a whole lot of people's attention with his open letter to Paula Deen. He's a black, Jewish Southerner and culinary historian who shares food photos that can make a happy expat like me, currently enjoying Turkish kitchen, wish to be right at a Southern table drinking sweet tea, eating barbecue and making room for blueberry cobbler. Michael also tweets at @antebellumchef. Here's what he says is the "best of his blog" for new followers.

8) Tinu who tweets at @blackgirlinprague rarely tweets. I wish she did because she always has something sassy to say. She's the one person on this list I know in person. But maybe if she had more followers, she'd be inspired. She's a tech professional, raised in America, now fluent in Czech, making the Golden City of Prague her home.

9) Someone researching black male performance in American education is Antonio M. Daniels. More power to him. Our education system is failing black males and I'm glad someone is trying to figure out how to fix this. The last American education system I worked in had a 17% high school graduation rate for black males. You can follow Antonio at @paideiarebel.

10) Jennifer Williams instantly telegraphs she is looking out for the next generation of young women who follow hers with her twitter handle @4coloredgirls. That sensitivity, and her desire to shield them from hurt, is something I learn from. She is a writer, professor, feminist and cultural critic in Houston, Texas.

Of course, there are many famous names, frequently in the media, whose bio I won't detail as they're all so easily findable. I learn from @oprah (she's really the founder of this category, isn't she?), @MHarrisPerry, @baratunde, @MsTerryMcMillian, @elonjames, @rebeccawalker, @ashong, @DonnaBrazile, @neiltyson, @ProfHolloway @cornelwest, @tavissmily, @marclamonthill, @MichaelEDyson, @NewBlackMan, @BobHerbert, @VanJones88, @hillharper and @chrisrock.

Truly,what choice do we have but to listen to each other better? Who wants to go through life in a world where we barely tolerate our fellow citizens that differ from us ethnically? Surely we can think bigger as citizens. Our advantage as Americans is that we have the world's ethnicities and cultures living right amongst us. If we choose to only honor people just like us, we're missing the whole point of America.

Dear friends in America, what's one action you can take to help heal America after the Trayvon Martin heartbreak? I invite you to also listen...and learn. Thanks to all the people named above for sharing their thoughts in ways that make me grow as an individual.

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Topkapi Palace , Part Two: Harem Culture Shock

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Yes, Empty Nest Expat is on Facebook. You can follow me there.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Turkey's Ethnic Diversity

Turk, Kurd, Bosnian
Circassian, Nomad, Immigrant
Laz, Albanian, Georgian
Alevi, Sunni, Şafii (what is that?)
One of the things I love about Turkey is something it has in common with America: ethnic diversity! I always say Turkey is as diverse a vegetable stew as America - it just has different vegetables. And all of those vegetables are new to me. I met a Turk or two before I came here, Bosnians too (often new immigrants to America), but I am sure I never met a Kurd, or an Alevi (hadn't even heard of them before I cam here). I only knew the word Circassian from reading Mark Twain, they are now a diaspora people for the most part. I met a Laz woman once during spontaneous outdoor dancing in Turkey, but to see their culture I would need to go up to the Northern Black Sea coast. Albanians, Georgians, Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks help make up the Levantine culture that is so wonderfully fun to experience because it is so different than what I am used to at home.

Once you've experienced diversity, do you find going back to a homogeneous society kind of boring? I do. It's all the differences that make life interesting.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Crossing Continents with a Covered Dish

I belong to a Facebook group called Cook's Corner for Expats in Turkey that is a collection of 700 home cooks living in Turkey from all corners of the globe. People use the group to ask each other where to find the elusive ingredient from home (cilantro? black beans? celery?). People also use it to share their excitement when a beloved product from home becomes a regular import in Turkey; I remember the Brits getting really excited about some sort of malt vinegar potato chips.

People post photos of their latest cooking and baking creations. Do you find cooking motivation by seeing what other people have made? I do. So many of the foods are things new to me, especially the Asian dishes. One day I exclaimed: "we need to have a potluck - I want to meet your food - oh, and you too." The idea took off and we instantly filled a roster of 23 people to meet together and share our creations. This is the second potluck of the group.
This is what I brought:
Spinach and Exotic Fruit Salad

 Brooks, an American and cofounder of the group with Virginia,
brought the rice dish
that his family always demands:
Indian Rice With Peas
I was so grateful to Helene
for bringing this Southwestern Salad.
I hadn't tasted a black bean for three years!
You don't know what you miss until you can't have it.
I loved meeting Kuraishini,
an expat from Sri Lanka,
who regularly gives
Sri Lankan cooking lessons
here in Istanbul.
 
She brought Sri Lankan fish cakes.
For the potluck, she toned down the spiciness.
Ha, bring it on Kuraishini.
 I want to see if I can handle it.
This is a dish from Aura's
hometown in Turkey, Sarma Aşı, 
a particular twist on stuffed grape leaves.
 
The bulgur, which has walnuts in it,
is stuffed into the grape leaves with a gherkin.
It's called Burdur Sarmaaşı.
 
Oh, this was so delish!
Underneath that spinach roll
was homemade dark and nutty German black bread.
 
The above food and the next two photos of food
were made by
a lovely young Pole named Aleksandra
who probably bakes and cooks
in the five or six languages she speaks!



 Gluten-free mini Zucchini Pizzas
made by Nicki from Long Island, New York
 Virginia, an American who used to own a popular café
in Istanbul's Sultanahmet neighborhood,
brought Hoppin' John, a traditional Afro-American dish
made with ham hocks.
Ham hocks weren't available in Istanbul
so Virginia used home-raised bacon from Serbia.
 
She had a non-pork version there too for the Muslims,
which was nice, as our hostess Kathy
was an American Sufi.
 
Kathy has a personal shopping business
and had just shown travel entrepreneur Rick Steves
around the bazaars earlier in the week.
 Salmon Quiche brought by
 Hawaiian Island native Becky from Maui.
I hadn't had scalloped potatoes in years either.
Western civilization comfort food!
 Derya,
an Australian with Cypriot heritage
brought this.
A traditional Austrian Sacher torte,
a chocolate cake
with a rum-apricot glaze
and a Pariser Crème glaze.
It was to die for.
An American named Franklin Orosco made this.
He used to own a café in Lithuania.
He made these
 Powidl Taschl, Mohn Plunder
and Apfel Plunder too.
These were so warm and wonderful.
I could just imagine Austrian children eating them
and becoming emotionally attached.
 
Franklin's creations were made with such
skill and pride.
You heard it here first (it's still a bit of a secret)
but Franklin Orosco is going to be offering baking lessons
here in Istanbul. Sssshhh. That's still on the QT.
This delectable dessert
is called an Eton Mess.
It was brought by a proud Englishman, Michael.
It was so fun to hear about the history of this dish.
American readers, what should I bring next time that represents American culture? My spinach salad couldn't burn or scorch and I thought of bringing an Arabic fattoush salad next time for the same reason. But I so loved sampling other people's "national dishes" that I feel I should 'represent' American food heritage.
 
I do make an amazing guacamole that used to make an appearance every Super Bowl game. I could bring that. What other dishes would you suggest that 'represent' American culinary heritage?
 
This is the first time I've ever taken a ferry and a cab to a potluck. I crossed from Europe, where I live, to Asia, where Kathy lives. What a lovely neighborly experience: crossing continents with a covered dish.
 
 
Photos courtesy of Brooks Emerson
 
 
 
Here are some other cooking posts you might enjoy:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Why yes, I'm on Facebook, you should 'like' my page: Empty Nest Expat!
 
 
 
 
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