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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Month of Turkish Literature for Global Literature in Libraries

On a ferry between two continents
 is a great place to read
In the last two years, one of the most fun things I have done is get involved in the fledgling Global Literature in Libraries movement. Did you know that around 3% of what is published each year in English has been translated from another language? It astonished me to learn that English-language readers read so provincially (for comparison, in Turkey, 42-50% of everything that is published has been translated from another language).

What could the world be like if English-language readers read more globally? Would there be more empathy? Less fear? Would there be more collaboration on big global problems? Would there be more international business and international travel? It's fun to think about.

In August, I served as the Turkish Literature Month editor for the Global Literature in Libraries blog. See, I was still blogging! Just in a different place. It was so much fun working with over nineteen different contributers from around the world to showcase 50 different titles. Gosh, that was fun. Here's the summation post with links to all the blog posts about Turkish Literature. 

You can follow along and read around the world too by following @GlobalLitinLibs on Twitter
or 'Global Literature in Libraries Initiative' on Facebook.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back in print from 100 years ago - Turkish and American women reflecting on their cross-cultural experience

I came across this marvelous book series "Cultures in Dialogue" the other day, and wished I could park myself down immediately to see what had changed for American female expats living and writing in Turkey 100 years ago, and what was the same.

Here's how the series publishers describe it:
Cultures in Dialogue returns to print sources by women writers from the East and West. Series One considers the exchanges between Ottoman, British, and American women from the 1880s to the 1940s. Their varied responses to dilemmas such as nationalism, female emancipation, race relations and modernization in the context of the stereotypes characteristic of Western harem literature reframe the historical tensions between Eastern and Western cultures, offering a nuanced understanding of their current manifestations.
Obviously, the Ottoman Empire is no more, so it would be impossible to see the Sultan at Yıldız Palace as Anna Bowman Dodd did.

Anna Bowman Dodd, the author pictured above, traveled throughout Istanbul and shared her impressions of household management, education, slavery, marriage, women's rights from a female travel writer's point-of-view.

The eternal conversation on cross-cultural female emancipation will still be occurring in some form 100 years from now. How interesting it would be to see the progress from 100 years back.

Even today, only 12% of Turkish women have been out of their country. How fun it would be to read Zeyneb Hanoum's impressions of Europe as she visited it at the turn of the last century or to read the memoirs of the famous feminist from the early Turkish Republic, Halide Edib.

So many books, so little time! Kudos to the publishers for bringing these historical voices back to the conversation.

You may also be interested in these posts:

#EnSonNeOkuyorsun What are you reading lately?

"My Little Library in Anatolia" by Kaya Genç

"The People Who Go"

Follow Empty Nest Expat on Facebook to ensure you'll never miss a post! See you there.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Three years of conversations in a Muslim country distilled down to 13 minutes and 49 seconds

Moving to a Muslim country is a chance for an expat to confront one's own Islamophobia directly. It works too. I love living without fear. Instead of learning through American media what Muslim people are like, I'm learning from them directly and listening to them share with me how they see things.

If you want to know what it feels like to be an expat, this man's talk has distilled the kind of conversations I've had with my Muslim friends over the last three years down to 13 minutes and 49 seconds. I ask you to listen to Mehdi Hasan, speaking at the Oxford Union, with an open mind and heart, as otherwise there really isn't any point in listening. You would miss the whole experience of what it actually is like to be an expat.

To all my Muslim friends as you begin your celebration of Ramazan during what will be a very hot month, I say: "Ramazan Mubarak!"

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!
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!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"I am Listening to Istanbul"

"I am Listening to Istanbul"
by Orhan Veli Kanik
I had a young Turkish teenage friend who was supposed to be learning English from me, but he was just as much the teacher, as he delighted in bringing me weekly linguistic treasure from his culture. We fell into the habit of each bringing each other one masterpiece from our native language every week. Of course, while his authors were Turkish, I had to read his offerings in English.

If you want to deepen your love of your own culture and language, try to narrow down your favorite creations to one masterpiece a week. It's hard! I shared Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" and my young friend said "If -- playing on the title -- If -- you believe there are men like that, you'll be single forever!" I had to laugh.

Then I shared another favorite: Teddy Roosevelt's "In the Arena." He liked that one. And yet another wonderful poem to share was "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost because my friend felt such delight when he instantly understood the metaphor at the end. "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley with its famous last two lines, and "Ozymandias" with its sly message against pride were hits. It was especially fun for me to pull out as many inspiring masculine poems as I could find and still I hadn't even yet cracked open the poetry books of Robert Service or shared Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire." 

One masterpiece he shared with me from Turkish culture was the poem by Orhan Veli Kanik, "I am listening to Istanbul." My young friend read it to me in English. Now I think I know enough of the original language, I am going to try and learn it in Turkish. Maybe there are other poems I should try. Is there a more beautiful context for learning language?

"I have come to love English." my student said at the end of our time together. We ran out of weeks before I ran out of masterpieces.

The time we get to share with someone is so short, whomever it may be. I am so grateful for that experience.

Whom are you sharing with that brings you joy? Be grateful to share this moment. Appreciate it with enthusiasm, even if only to yourself.
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