Many of our dear readers will most definitely be familiar with the way delicious Turkish tea is prepared and eventually enjoyed, it is the exact opposite of having a quick cuppa when a teabag of various shapes and sizes (remember our ‘pyramids’?) yet with usually no more than a mere 2 grams of contents is used.
Making tea in Türkiye takes time, it is made of the real thing so to speak… today’s topic however concerns a further hot beverage: coffee. We already published a guide of ‘how to’ some editions back; for this month’s The Ege Eye we shall focus on a few wider picture aspects, the tradition and a number of customs linked to that fine brew.
First, if going out with our neighbours or friends originally hailing from Türkiye chances are that when former acquaintances have turned into friends or at least close contacts the level of knowledge about ones’ personal circumstances have become known to our opposite number(s). Single or married, young or more mature, working or happily retired and so on and so forth. After a nice meal and once the plates have been cleared from the table no better way than to end the evening with a cup of Turkish coffee. Yes indeed, you will for sure have seen the custom to end the meal with a glass of Turkish tea, or two, but the coffee would actually be served thereafter, you would not enjoy tea, then coffee, then once again tea!
Fancy learning about your future? Well, here we go: with some acquired expertise our Turkish friends might ask us whether or not we agree to a little bit of fortune, or future telling. In order to do this the finished cup is turned upside down on the saucer – as it is strong coffee and not its pulverized instant version a lot of sediment remains at the bottom of the cup. Wait five minutes or so, and most sediment will have flowed gently down the inner side of the cup. You carefully lift it, and this allows for various image like imprints to be studied on its sides. Here comes the expertise into play, the way things look have special meanings. Yet and to stay in that picture all would be meaningless unless you know that little bit about the person whom you are explaining their future to. Granted, some say ‘easy’ – far from it. Imagine you just had a sunburn, hence only talking about your health is at risk would be a cheap trick, anyone could do that. So let yourself be surprised, my most recent coffee future teller, a university lecturer in Ankara, mentioned to me she sees a set of keys. I inquired and learned that I would soon travel (accepted, in my profession an almost weekly routine so that might be filed as give-away) but then heard this set of keys could be in Türkiye, Istanbul or further afield, or in a European country but not the one I currently live in. Fascinating… your friendly columnist is not saying if completely true or false but the ensuing explanations and hints by my host were mind-blowing indeed – how does she know? – something along the lines of unexpected truth perhaps?
Second, let us talk about a wedding in Türkiye. And coffee. One of the traditions is that upon the occasion of the future husband asking the future bride’s parents for the hands of the woman she has to prepare and serve the coffee during that all-important gathering. And yes indeed, that asking for the hands – ceremony takes place in the house of the future bride and seldom in a hotel or restaurant. In case she would spill some coffee, legend has it in case the marriage ever fails she would be the one to be blamed for any mishap. Certainly, a legend to be taken with a pinch of salt but then again – concentrating albeit being nervous on a particular ‘new family task’ is nothing to be afraid of, or is it? So let us leave the tricky issue of political correctness out of the equation, just this once. Maybe one day the soon-to-be husband takes over the kitchen role and learns how to prepare the perfect cup of coffee for his wife once married!
Last not least, even without obtaining vital clues about what happens in your life next or tying the knot sipping a tasty Turkish coffee is something to be cherished at all moments, regardless of in chilly winter’s or during hot summer’s.
In this context there is a famous saying around here: ‘A cup of coffee will be remembered for 40 years.’
Its implications are that no matter if ordering in a hospitality establishment or preparing it at home you would not normally share that special moment with strangers. Sure, in a good restaurant the waiter might offer you and your loved one(s) a beverage on the house and that could just as well be coffee. But no fortune telling would follow, no extended conversation about life either.
Have you tried it yet? It is a wonderful tradition not to be missed.
And may we take this opportunity to wish you all a blessed holy month of Ramadan.
(Photo credit: taken by author 30 March 2023; a past present from the Mayor of the city of Şanlıurfa)