Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dinner Time

You know as an American family, dinner times can be many different things. Sometimes dinner can be grabbing your plate of food prepared by your parent and taking it to your room, enjoying while watching TV, studying, or browsing the internet. Sometimes, dinner is enjoyed at the dinner table with the family, where you talk about what happened during the day and then leave immediately after the food was inhaled. Other times you may grab the plate of food and crowd around the tube (TV), not saying a thing, but paying attention to the comedy show, reality show, or daily news.

One of the things I love about dinner time in Turkey is not just the absolutely fresh and fulfilling food that is served, but rather the conversations. Typically it is started by a simple thing that happened earlier in the day, but then is extended to a very intriguing and sometimes intense conversation. When the food is all gone, they stay at the table and talk for another half an hour. After a while it is typical, if it’s not too late, someone offers to prepare Turkish coffee. This then leaves for at least another hour of conversation and fortune reading.

If you don’t know a typical thing to do after drinking a small cup of Turkish coffee, you cover the cup, flip it over while wishing something, and then the fortune will be read by another person after the cup has cooled. The easiest way I can explain this is through Harry Potter where they are looking at their personal objects.

I love the Turkish culture for many things it offers to the family and friendships. Conversation is a very easy thing to strike up, especially over dinner or Turkish coffee. This is something I would love to carry over to America. Dinner time that lasts more than the meal, conversations that can solve the world’s problems, and fortunes to explain the future. Maybe with even an hour of sanity over dinner, we can all find relaxation and health over good nourishment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Turkish Rice (Pilav)

One of the typical and simple dishes in Turkey is Pilaf (Rice). This is one of my favorites, and you may be thinking, rice? This rice however is moist, warm, and so smooth to the palate. Since it is one of my favorites, I figured I would share the best way to wake rice, the Turkish way!

2 cups of long-grain rice
2 cups of hot water
About 6 tbsp butter or Vegetable Oil (The oil should cover the rice when used)
2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper

Wash the rice several times with warm water and drain, until the water is clear. Then fill the bowl of rice with hot water and leave for about 15 minutes, then drain. Melt the butter or pour the vegetable oil in a cooking pot. If using vegetable oil (I prefer) then make sure that all the rice is covered. Saute the rice with butter/oil for 2-3 minutes while stirring. The rice will become clumping, this is a good sign. Pour 2 cups of hot water in it. Add salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover with lid, and cook until the rice absorbs all the water. This will take approx. 15 minutes.

Take the cooking pot away from the heat, when it is finished. Open the lid, and let the Pilaf stand for about 5 minutes. After the "brewing time" you are ready to serve!


***Don't stir Pilaf while it's cooking.***
*** Don't use a spoon to fluff Pilaf. Use a wooden or regular fork for it.***

Other notes:
* You can deviate and mix in shredded cooked chicken or chickpeas in when you add the water to the cooked rice. This is another great option that the Turks, as well as I, enjoy.

Makes 6-8 servings.

You can serve Turkish Rice Pilaf with any meal. My favorite is mixing in PLAIN yogurt and served with some chopped fresh greens (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, with vinegar and olive oil).

Afiyet Olsun! / / May it bring you appetite and health!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pursuits Abroad

While speaking with a friend, they approached me with a topic. They said that they were happy for my experience but also said that most individuals that love travel are searching for something. They asked, "What is it that you, personally, are looking for?" I proceeded to answer:
Well I can answer it in a couple different ways. Firstly the most obvious for me, is that I hate stagnation. I hate being held down to anything, whether it be my education, my work, my life in general, I get joy from constant change in my environment. On this journey however, I am constantly looking and learning about myself, and I know, this is soo cliche.
I believe in something called the shadow "bag" theory, where the first 20 years you are molded and sculpted into this being, conformed by your family, society and religion; you put all these "bad" things that you believe in but others don't, into a bag.It is after the age of 20 that you start to find yourself, flower per say, and it is not until you remove all these negative things/live the way you feel most free and take them out of your "bag" that you will begin to see happiness. I think that my travels and new cultural experiences have made me think about myself and my life and my own culture more than I have ever thought before. I know more about myself more than I ever have, now! I dont necessarily think Im looking for a place that I belong, but rather to learn from individuals around me. People outside of america, are very open-minded, very well read, and have the most interesting outlooks on life(politics, love, life, careers).
The insight that I have gained from others has been tremendous. The culture norms have impacted the way I live now. This is the reason for my travels, Turkey in particular. My dislike of stagnation leads me to many places, this drive forces me to mold my knowledge and self. I am constantly shifted, molded and readjusted to new things and opportunities. While I love a steady life, being challenged is a blessing and while in Turkey I have been challenged in more ways than you can imagine.These challenges and obstacles to achieve are what give me joy in life and my travels abroad.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yasar University - Izmir, Turkey

Science, Unity, Success
My Campus - Yasar University, Selcuk Yasar Campus

The center of the campus. (A mini amphitheater, and a cafe).

Turkish Flag raised high and proud!

Typical Classroom.

Yasar Logo

Beautiful Campus!!!! :-)

My campus is like a resort!

This is where the International office should and tries to relocate to! ;-)

Mini Amphitheater. Great for resting between and after classes.

Sir Winston Cafe

We have security and card entry at both ends of the campus.

Great entrance to the campus. Library on right. Tallest building is the business building.

My metro stop in Bornova every day.

Note: All pictures were taken by me, AKA no copyrights needed ;)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Your Nothing

Your Nothing
By: Dustin Sherman

Have I cracked the mirror
to your luck?
Have I turned the fuse off
to the power? 

The candle is burning,
It will soon be shameful.
The purpose of life will then be questioned?!The passion put out. 

The purity and reflections you have
Give them back, or
drop them into a puddle of mud. 

What makes the hatred evident?
Your glare, the look of
Saddening imperfections yearning to be erased. 

I promise to crack your code,
I will not conquer my fears and
but will become one with you, forevermore. 

Insecurities lurking around the corner,
hold me,
and in return,
receive nothing. 

I will be brought to life,
stay and I will tear you down like you have me,
then, re-grow together as nix, in perfect parallelism 
to the new world, the new ideals, the new life,
indifferent of you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Flaming Things to the Face? Yes!

You know that feeling when you go to the barber or hair dresser, and the first obstacle that you must overcome is explaining what it is exactly that you want done? You know that no matter how much you explain, show pictures, graphs, rulers, PowerPoint presentations, statistics about that style, you STILL never get what you want? Yes this has been my experience every month in America. Now let's remember I’m in Turkey, where they speak only Turkish (unless you are blessed with a single bilingual person). You can imagine my fears. I mean I can’t even get what I want in America; what makes me think that I will get what I want trying to explain with my childish Turkish? This however is not the case. Somehow, Turkish hair dressers have this gift to visualize what fits your face and to turn your dead funky looking hair into a masterpiece (ok, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea).

"Kisaltir misiniz, Lutfen"(Can you cut my hair, please?) were the words that were uttered when walking into the barber. Of course after saying this, they prepared a seat for me and offered tea or coffee, always a welcoming jester done everywhere in Turkey. I sat down, began explaining as well as I could, while constantly asking "Did you understand?" They proceeded to reassure me "Yes, yes, of course." I smile every time inside thinking, "yup, he didn’t understand anything, but we shall see."

There is always a young teenager in the barber shops, they clean up the hair, get instruments and some even give you a shave. While the barber is chopping away, working his magic, the teenager has his eyes on every single move the barber makes. I think this is why all Turkish barbers are so ridiculously talented. They grow up watching this art, and master it through repetition.

The hair turned out being something I liked; next was the shave. Out came the cream, brush and razor. It’s something about having someone else shave you that is refreshing and relaxing. They then after shaving give you a face massage, clean up any other facial hair, then light up a cotton ball and dab it around your ear and cheek bones to burn off any potential hair (Yes. A burning flame coming at your face freaked me out at first too).

All lathered up, ready for the sharp blade!
 With a fresh new hairdo and clean shave I walked out paying on 20TL (15$). That’s the thing about Turkey, you can go to the barber every week, spend 5TL (3$) and get a nice shave and neck trim (Not something I do, but wish I did). It’s a mini gift to you for a good week at an affordable price.

With the personality of the barber, that’s enough to go, they love forming a relationship with you and over time even lower the price. I do not think that any of them have went to hair school, and from my experience, do about a million times better than any American hair stylist. I am pleased to say that I will be hiring my own Turkish hair dresser when I become rich and own 10 houses around the world. I’m just sayin'.

Can you see the fear in my face!