Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Touch of Turkey

Who would have thought there were so many Turks in Atlanta? But, I guess in a city of 4.5 million, there is a hardly a nationality that isn't represented. But I only know of one (and maybe a half) Turkish restaurants, and that hasn't changed much in quite a few years. So, it was very pleasant surprise to find the Atlanta Turkish Fest well-organized and attended this weekend at the Gwinnett Convention Center in Duluth, GA.

It was strange, and yet comfortably familiar to see the faces and clothing, to smell and taste the food and drink, to hear the music and language, and to see the unique Turkish items such as Evil Eyes and tea sets. I have been to Turkey at least five times, and it is a place that is truly magical. Everyone should go there at least once. Also, there is a huge Turkish presence in Germany, and it was very easy to find restaurants, stores, travel agencies, mosques, and other indicators there.

The first, and most important thing, to do at the Turkish Fest was eat! I was starved, but I took time to look at all the options, about ten vendors, to see what was available. Did I want a doner kabob, shish kabob, the honey-dripping desserts, salads, or what? It all looked and smelled great. I settled on something I had never had before: Gozleme ve Manti (Turkish Crepes and Dumplings), which the servers told me was from the middle part of Turkey. The crepe was very thin and filled with a spicy meat. The dumplings were actually more like tiny tortellini covered with a garlic yogurt sauce, a thin tomato sauce, and a sprinkling of dried mint. I ordered a traditional Turkish yogurt drink, something like buttermilk, to go with it. It seemed like way too much food, but guess what? I ate it all with no problem and even had a few bites of my friend's chicken doner! Afterwards we had real Turkish coffee (sweet and strong with grounds on the bottom) with hazelnuts to munch on.

Finally satisfied with the food fix, we spent time looking through all the vendors' booths, probably two dozen or so, which including tourism, services, souvenirs, foods, copper, scarves, jewelry, music, food, language school, religious information, books, calligraphy, marbling, cooking classes, and more. The entire time, various musical performers were on stage. Nothing makes me happier than Turkish music! Many people were in folk costumes, obviously part of a later presentation.

The people were their usual hospitable Turkish selves. Everyone was very anxious that we should find what we wanted, be happy, etc. Here, take this, take this--a pocketful of Jordan almonds, maps, postcards, brochures, a CD, a folder. Can I help you? Smiling families and children. The entire event was happy and interesting. My only phrase in Turkish, "Tesekk├╝r ederim" (thank you), was understood everywhere and met with surprise and smiles. It's a good one is know if you only know one thing in Turkish! I can't wait for next year's fest.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I had one week in Istanbul when DoDDS sent us for a cooperative learning workshop. I did enjoy the experience. America is a real melting pot, still. (Jill)

  2. Turkey, one of our favorite countries, as well. Wish we could have been there; thanks for sharing. (Daniel)

  3. What interesting things you are experiencing. One of our goals is to go to Turkey. Really enjoyed your insights!
    Mary Catherine

  4. One of our teachers is in Istanbul, Turkey right now. She ran in the marathon there today! She invited me to go, but I was away until late Friday and she left Friday afternoon. (Kelly)

  5. Ha! I didn't expect that to come from Atlanta! Surprise, surprise! :)

  6. Oh, neat! That's why living near a big city is so much fun. So many unique things going on. The pics were great.