A country of passion: Funerals, Football and Romeo & Juliet

When I’m sad I become inconsolable, when happy I create a positive energy around me and it radiates and doesn’t go ignored, when I am angry I am feared, I wear my heart on my sleeve… I am turkish.

I can be so erratic sometimes feeling all my emotions so strongly that people take it to mean anger, irritation or intimidation when I am passionate about something. At first I found it a struggle to understand why people couldn’t understand when I was overly excited or couldn’t sympathise with the degree of sadness I could feel. Later I found that this inability to get people to understand that all my extremes were a display of passion was something inherently part of my genetics. Turkish people are so passionate about everything, they are loud, they are blunt and abrupt but in a very endearing way. For many this can be quite intimidating, for many don’t make their emotions clear. If there is one thing that is for sure if I think something, I say it. This doesn’t make me rude, its just how I am, I tell it how it is, and theres definitely a turkishness to that.

I thought I would display many examples I have connected with turkish passion that I found help me to understand my own reactions to situations in my life.

Cultural difference between East and West

English people are known outside of their country as quite cold people, and as someone who grew up in London I did not fully understand how that conclusion was made. It is only when I moved to turkey that it became clear. It is not that we are cold it is that we are less passionate people, in someways still very victorian-esque it is deemed not proper form to blurt feelings and over share emotions. If you are ill, you be quiet and push through, when in love it is not in a overt kind of way just a more subtle and unspoken.

Funerals and Mourning

An example of this difference is in mourning for ones death. In turkish culture screaming and crying loudlyis seen as a natural retaliation to someones death. English on the other hand have a more prude display of emotion, trying to hold in their tears and upset during the funeral out of respect. To a turkish person this is ludacris and means a void of emotion and lack of love, for an english person a turkish response would be overly dramatic and unnecessary.

The art of Conversation

Passion is displayed in the turkish in many ways, the first is in conversation. Noticeably a family dinner would consist of people talking very loudly, sometimes what seems to be an aggressive nature, and always talking on top of one another. For someone who does not understand turkish they would immediately be taken back by a polava of noise and take their language and gestures to be negative towards each other. Yet this is normal form for turkish people and is not taken to be aggressive or intimidating. A mutual understanding is present that it is a conversation, not an argument (even if this is not what it seems.)

Sport and Football

Another passion is seen in men and sport. Football hooligans are from England? You obviously haven’t met a Fenerbahce or Galatasaray supporter. These teams rival each other like chelsea and manchester united, but to such an extent that if a Galatasaray supporter walking into a turkish coffee shop, with their team uniform on, during a Fenerbahce game would be the end of him. The teams are rivals to an extent that they act like gangs, with their own club supporters seeking out each other for violence and arguments.[example] Such anger and passion driven from a mere ball game? But to discuss their team is like talking about their family, they are very passionate about their team and the people who support their teams.

Romantic Gestures

The most dominant form of passion can be seen in love. This can be seen as very overwhelming for a non turkish with a turkish partner or sometimes the non turkish partner actually appreciates and values the relationship because their turkish partner loves so strongly. I will love you forever, until I die in for someone who is english may make them run a mile or at the very least it is very strong language, but this is normal speech to ones partner in turkey. They can be jelous but also they love so much that it is something that many can be unprepared for. I would say this is the biggest display of turkish passion. For us the story of Romeo and Juliet is a wonderful lovestory but tells the tale of something rather unrealistic, whereas I know many turkish men to have watched the film version, and have connected to Romeo as a character, probably feeling the same strength of love and happy to go to the same lengths to achieve it. If overwhelming it is an impressive way to love.

The same sort of love is displayed for family. The lengths one would go to retaining a families respect and the love people have for their parents and siblings is very strong, a bond we do not cherish to the same degree in england.

So next time you feel you meet someone in Turkey and are finding it hard to understand their opinions, or responses to certain situation, just remember they are passionate people, and approach all things that they could be passionate about (love, family and their country) with respect.

It means that sometimes their passion becomes something negative which stereotypes into football hooliganism or obsessive, jelous relationships but it can also mean a cherishing of family, an undeniable and strong love towards their partners and patriotism towards their country that has been lost our society today.


The woman who spoke – Turkish Culture

The women who spoke: The first broadcasted interview

[This translation is a shorthand of the conversation that took place between Nuraycan (The woman), another lady and the presenter. This is not a word for word translation, just displays the most important elements of the interview]

Second Lady is grilled by presenter on her facebook page which promotes the iranian islamic political regime.

Second Lady: I like and respect Khomeini (Shia Law iranian ex president and religious and political revolutionist)

Presenter: but its Shia islamic?

Second Lady: It’s not important that its Shia law it’s important that Iran is muslim. I like Iran.

Presenter: Do you like Ataturk?

[Silence and Pause]

Nuraycan: Do I have the right in the Republic of Turkey to dislike Ataturk? If nothing will happen to me for saying this, no I don’t like him.

Presenter: Why? The person who saved this country…

Nuraycan: Because I don’t believe that when he took the power from the Sultan, he took it to create a Turkish Republic

…. if in the name of Ataturk you are going to limit my freedom and my rights, you can’t expect me to like Ataturk.

Second Lady: We were all muslim. It is only because in the name of one man, we have created a whole ideology that this question is being posed to me (Nuraycan suggests that her issue is with the ideology not Ataturk but that the negative energy towards what she says is created from the fact that they are holding Ataturk and the ideology as one and the same).

We know he was a good soldier, and we know it is because of this that we got the Turkish Republic, we aren’t arguing with that.

Presenter: But you don’t like the man who did this for us, that saved Turkey?

Nuraycan: To be honest many people may have my view but if I political party were to form in favour of people with my view it is immediately abolished in the name of Ataturk, or in the name of the republic, or democracy, whatever that may be they take our freedom out of our hands.

Two condemning women ask: You say you dislike Ataturk and the regime, what type of regime do you want then?

Nuraycan: I want us to have rights. I feel we have been threatened by the people who believe we are against the republic to be made to feel we don’t have a voice.

Presenter: You say it as though you are saying ‘you’ and ‘we’ as though you separate us as believer and non-believers of Islam which is not right.

Nuraycan: I am not making comments on your faith. What your religion is is none of my business, your religion and beliefs are your choice.. You could be muslim, of another religion of have no religion at all, it’s not an issue. The issue is that we as headscarved muslims are treated as minority citizens, and that you have issues with us practicing our faiths. We should be entitled to the same freedom as any other person.

I embrace the republic, I just want the people who want to wear headscarves to be given the right to do so.

Opinion and debate

I think Ataturk was a man who did fine things for Turkey and I feel Turkey has come far as a more modern islamic country. I think the rights that were given such as voting, the rights of the people for running the country, the rights to women cancel out the small changes to religious rights.

 Philosophy: Ethics

We can see that Ataturk had a view that restricting the happiness of women that wear headscarves was a necessary evil for a more long term happiness, a happiness of the state driven by modernisation, westernisation and all the positive developments that occur with it.

The Headscarf debate opens up a bigger philosophical quandary, the ethical plausibility of a Utilitarian view of politics. Is it okay to sacrifice the short-term happiness of people in the state for a bigger vision that promotes and facilitates maximum happiness in the future?

Is there another way of tackling the problem? Is there another way of developing and maturing the ideology of the state without restricting rights and freedom?

What Do You Think?

Free Burritos on 28th March!

Free burritos! Benito’s Hat are giving away free burritos to help raise awareness for Brain Tumours.

the 28th March is wear a hat day and if you pop to Benito’s Hat wearing a hat you’ll get a free burrito! Well, a burrito for a £1 but that pound will be donated to the good cause. Free food and doing a bit of good. Great!

Get to any one of the four restaurants in London on the 28th March, between 3-5pm in your hat to participate.

If you go to the Goodge Street, Covent Garden or Great Castle Street restaurants then you’ll find a dress up box and photobooth to document your hat wearing for a £1.

Goodge Street 56 Goodge Street, W1T 4NB
Covent Garden, 19 NewRow, WC2N 4LA
Oxford Circus, 12 Great Castle Street, W1W 8LR


The tradition of Kolonya

Kolonya is found in every house in Turkey, probably one of the widest selling household goods on the market. I know its a strange topic to discuss, but it is so significantly part of the culture that it can’t go unmentioned.


Kolonya comes from the world cologne to mean fresh scented water. Usually it is scented with rosewater giving it a very sweet flowery smell that fills the whole room.The turkish use this water in the same way as cologne was traditionally made to be used, until it was later developed into something used merely for cosmetic reasons.

It was originally used for medicinal purposes, and is still used for this in Turkey today. Drops of cologne are used for its antiseptic properties, and for massage as relief for muscle and joint pains.

It is also used for scrubbing the skin. Much like the hamam experience where they scrub skin ferociously to remove the dry and dead skin cells, in homes the cleaning of the body is treated the same way. Very harsh stones, scrubbing cloths are used to rid of the skin. After showering my auntie would scrub the areas of her face where our hair usually lies that makes the skin extra oily or dirty. Backs of ears and neck are scrubbed with Kolonya which very effectively cleans what a general shower might not do effectively.

Most significantly, Turkish people use it on the hands of guests after an exchange of pleasantries. This is very important etiquette in turkish social life and not doing this is a sign of rudeness.

You are likely to be offered cologne not only in homes, but on buses, whose passengers are looked upon as guests. When visiting someone who is ill or buying souvenirs for friends during a visit to another part of the country, a bottle of cologne is one of the most acceptable gifts. Cologne is probably produced in more variety in Turkey than in its homeland. 

Almost every part of the country has its own distinctive variety.Izmir is renowned for its Golden Drop, Secret Flower and Izmir Nights colognes, Antalya for its bitter orange flower cologne, Rize for its tea cologne, Duzce for walnut leaf and tobacco leaf colognes, Trabzon for hazelnut and anchovy cologne, Amasya for apple cologne, Isparta for rose cologne, Edremit and Ayvalyk for olive blossom cologne, Syndyrgy for pine cologne, Balykesir for white lily cologne, and so on.

Whether the common lemon and rose cologne or these more exotically scented varieties, cologne has played a part in the polite formalities of Turkish social life, refreshing guests, travellers and the sick, for more than a century.

Sitting on the bench [the headscarf ban in Turkey]

I find this topic so interesting, as its something so heavily debated in Turkish culture. Many of my less travelled friends ask me why I don’t wear a headscarf because I am half turkish, not knowing that unlike many islamic states it is not mandatory. Not only is it not mandatory, it is in some cases banned.

Turkish lady asks for Ozgurluk (Freedom)

This might strike people as confusing as its an islamic country but this is part of a great reform by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

In an attempt to secularise and europeanise turkish way of life he removed articles of clothing with religious attachment from society. He did not abolish headscarves as such but made regulations that restricted religious attire of any form in public services and education. No MP, Doctor, Teacher or Student could wear these articles as they encouraged an anti-secular traditional islamic way of life. It was his decision to ensure Turkey was not non-muslim but much like western world, would have freedom of thought and choice when it came to religion. He felt freedom of religion would be repressed by an overly islamic state so banned this form of clothing.


I know this seems quite baffling. Most people of philosophy and logic would state that this ideology is fundamentally flawed by the premise that freedom of religion = repression of religious expression. These seem quite incompatible. and it would be right but as we know of many debates on concepts of freedom, religion and politics there is never  perfect answer to these questions.

What is most interesting is the social divide on this issue in turkish culture and also how much it represents their internal turmoils between holding onto their islamic identities and continuing their development to a more westernised, european country.

It’s quite hypocritical and confusing that the turkish are both muslim, anti- other religions and religious policies and pro islam, and yet at the same time do not permit many significant muslim traditions. Now I am not religious, and I believe that a world without it would be a happier one but yet, I am not entirely sure of turkish standpoint. I am not saying they should encourage more islamic practices or that they should just throw religion out the window but they are sitting on the fence, which is a very baffling place to be.

Many turkish women wear headscarves, and many who do not wear headscarves on a daily basis cover their head during funerals and practices in the mosque. People do not frown upon the scarf. Even if they are kemalist they have nothing against muslim tradition. The complications occur when these muslim traditions attempt to be solidified within law and governing documents. This is when the people for Ataturk (most of turkey) get angry.

Also, they have no issue with someone acting against Ataturks wishes by wearing these clothing articles, and they respect muslim traditions and embrace them, but they do not condone the people who do this way to openly disapprove or dislike Ataturks reforms.

Funny how the essence of this issue is a hypocrisy in itself. One of the purposes of Ataturks reforms was to create freedom of thought and yet not allowing someone to have a freedom of thought on Ataturk or the changes he made, including the headscarf ban, is restriction on freedom of thought in itself.

Lets just remember though that Ataturk did not ask Turkey to ban negative words against him, it was citizens and government on his passing that made this decision. So one could say on his passing Turkey made a significant mistake of not adhering to Ataturks changes by this restriction.

The Lady who Spoke

I remember I told this to a turkish friend of mine, and it wasn’t taken well. A video was cast of a lady who left turkey because she could not be educated in university without removing her headscarf. She was brought on national tv and slandered for the country to see.

The presenter made sure to ask questions that placed her in a situation where she either has to pretend she agreed with the headscarf ban (which is stupid because she had one on her head, and the rule had ruined her life, she clearly couldn’t say that even if she wanted to save herself) or she would have to say she didn’t agree. So obviously she stated that she disagreed, she told the truth.

Following this she was then asked whether she didn’t agree with Ataturk’s policy. She was placed in a position where nothing but bad news could arise, she had to public state she disagreed with the current policy.


(Let me know if anyone would like a translation of the interview)

My friend posted this video on facebook and called her a whore, a bitch, a cow who should get out of Turkey. Other people commented saying that if they saw her they would stab her. Such rage and passion for a women saying she disagreed with policy. And yet surely the purpose of the policy was to create freedom of religion and thought: is this not doing the opposite?

History of the headscarf ban in recent years:

  • In 1998, a Turkish student was banned for wearing a headscarf at Istanbul UniversityIn 2000, Nuray Bezirgan, a Turkish female student, wore a headscarf at her college final exams. A Turkish court sentenced her to six months jail for “obstructing the education of others”.The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban in 2004, saying the rules on dress were “necessary” and did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. In October 2006, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the university ban again, rejecting a complaint filed by another Turkish university student.
  • In May 1999, the ban on headscarves in the public sphere hit the headlines when Merve Kavakçı was prevented from taking her oath in the National Assembly because she wore a headscarf. She was the newly elected-MP of Istanbul of the pro-IslamistVirtue Party, and she refused demands to leave the building. The secular opposition members protested by chanting ‘out’ for 30 minutes, and the then prime minister Bülent Ecevit accused her of violating the principles of secularism.  A state prosecutor investigated whether she might be put on trial for provoking religious hatred. She received much support from Iran, by the Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and hundreds of women demonstrating in support of the deputy.
  • In October 2006, Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer refused to allow AKP politicians whose wives wore headscarves to a ball marking Turkish independence, saying it would “compromise” and undermine the secular state founded by Atatürk
  • In March 2009, Kıymet Özgür who wore the çarşaf was attacked by CHP members when she tried to get into an election bus in Istanbul.
  • The CHP (Republican People’s Party) is a Kemalist party, however, its then leader Deniz Baykal surprised supporters by allowing those who wear the çarşaf to become members of the party in late 2008. 
  • Prime Minister Erdogan campaigned in his victorious 2007 campaign with a promise of lifting the longstanding ban on headscarves in public institutions. However, as the Turkish deputies voted in Parliament, tens of thousands protested outside in favour of the ban
  • On February 7, 2008, the Turkish Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution, allowing women to wear the headscarf in Turkish universities, arguing that many women would not seek an education if they could not wear the head scarf.
  • On 5 June 2008, Turkey‘s Constitutional Court annulled the parliament’s proposed amendment intended to lift the headscarf ban, ruling that removing the ban was against the founding principles of the constitution. The highest court’s decision to uphold the headscarf ban cannot be appealed

Additions to my London foodie calendar

Want to try London’s finest unique dining experiences and aren’t too excited by Timeout’s alternatives. Try these bad boys:

Taken from Grape Night In Official Website

Taken from Grape Night In Official Website

March Secret Wine Supper

Every month A Grape Night In and The Rookery Clapham Common hosts a Secret Wine Supper, each with hand selected wines paired with a seasonal menu with a secret theme… Check out the poster for some clues for March’s event.

We guarantee that each month will be as topical as it comes, but the final reveal won’t happen until the night! Your challenge – to help us find the best food and wine pairing.

Each night includes 5 courses of ‘mystery’ wines and seasonal small dishes, accompanied by an interactive tasting hosted by the Grape Night In girls – all for just £32!

*Look closely at the poster for clues to this month’s theme


Laura & Kiki, who have started pop-up wine company A Grape Night In, are part of the new generation breathing life into the stale world of wine tasting. These girls bring youth and excitement to a normally bland setting – White table clothes are banished and quirky themes welcomed. These wine tasting sessions are designed to bring wine to a new level of coolness, ready to challenge any fancy cocktail or craft beer!

If you like wine, but don’t know why, and want to be able to tell your Cabernet from your Pinot, make sure to find A Grape Night In pronto as their passion will infect you…

Read More… A Grape Night In

Zoe’s Ghana Restaurant [A Pop-Up Restaurant]

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is a ‘pop-up’ restaurant creating a look and feel from its Ghanaian roots that merges with a contemporary dining experience. Home spun, home cooked food. Always fun, always relaxed and always tasty…

Born from creating a ‘pop-up’ Ghanaian restaurant in my live/workspace in Hackney Wick in the summer of 2010 as part of Hackney Wicked Arts Festival, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen has grown with popular demand.

We now have a monthly night, the first Saturday of every month at Carlton London Café in East London and regularly take Ghana Kitchen experience to Berlin.

We cater for functions, festivals, private parties and install our ‘pop-up’ experience across the UK and now Europe.

Price and events: see their Facebook  to see up and coming pop up events, prices vary.

Their on going Carlton London Cafe Event is 6 Courses, £20 per person.

See More at: Zoe’s Ghana Pop up Restaurant

The Secret Supper Club Social

Cuisson’s Head Chef, Paul, invites you to join him for one of his secret supper clubs. With a very social format, a rotation through different central London locations, and an ever changing interactive menu – this is one gourmet dinner experience you’ll not want to miss.


Cuisson’s Head Chef, Paul, invites you to join him for one of his secret dinner parties. This is one (un)Restaurant you’ll not want to miss.

  • Typically involves a five or six course gourmet menu. The photos on this page are for example purposes only, as each event has a different menu.
  • Menus will be available one week in advance, and Paul will endeavour to cater to any special requirements.

Paul prefers an interactive format to his supper clubs, and if you want to get hands-on, you can join him in creating the canapés. If you’re not the cooking type, just relax and chat with the other guests while he prepares the five amazing courses. Butternut squash velouté with home-smoked chicken roulade, and truffled bread are typical of what you can expect on his menu, and as Paul prepares his dishes you’ll learn the inside secrets such as how to make the perfect wild mushroom butter. But be warned, don’t get too excited by the mains as Paul’s desserts are divine — like the thick and delicious butterscotch set cream with autumn pear, spiced blackberry and almond crumble. It is a heavenly end to an evening of culinary bliss.

Read More… Chef Website

Read More… Lime&Tonic Experience london

Pipsdish [Islington]

I’ve already been here and I LOVE IT! Closes at the end of april, so book while you can!

Read more on my blog: Pipsdish Review 

Read more… Pipsdish official site

More London Culinary Experiences

Lime and Tonic – Culinary Experiences

We are pop up – sharing current pop up restaurant experiences in London

London Pop ups – Great list of supper clubs