The answers to all burdens of Life: Baklava and Turkish tea

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Today I would like to write about a topic that I think to be very important concerning the international political and socio-economic system. And therefore, by writing this article, I hope to succeed in drawing your attention to a concern of vital intellectual importance.

When the first Turks came to Germany as “Gastarbeiters” or guest workers in the early 1960s, everything still looked very „German“ and made a quite homogenous impression: Dry and dreary streets surrounded by German single family detached houses with classical front yards, men and women trying to sweep away the snow outside at 7 a.m., being half awake, half dreaming, before going to work, people speaking in a diplomatic, sober manner with each other, trying to do everything just to prevent being emotional or humorous etc. etc. All these said above sound like clichés but there were no so-called „Dönerbuden“ (Turkish restaurants offering nothing else than the traditional Döner – which almost everybody considers to be a classical Turkish dish, but in fact was invented in Berlin, anyway). Neither were there any Internet Cafés – well there was nothing like the Internet in those days, but if there had been, most of them would have been run by Turks, as it is the case around here nowadays – nor small shops, selling just about all stuff you can imagine having anything to do with technology (and with enormous eye-catching stickers glued over saying „Made in China“). There were no mosques, no „parallel societies“, no ghettos, no Turkish patisseries, no „Bagel Palaces“ (Simit Saraylari) where you can get those delicious bread-sesame-rings for breakfast while sipping Turkish Tea, no Turkish football clubs calling themselves „Anadolu Futbol“.

The best way to eat Baklava

After 1961, this trauma rapidly ended. Thank God! Why? The reason for my thankfulness towards God is that today even my German friends cannot imagine Germany without all these goods and blessings. What I want to draw your attentions to in this tiny article is one of these blessings, one that the public seems to be rather unfamiliar with, but that is tremendously important, though, when it comes to sweetening your evening after having worked or studied hard the whole day through: Baklava. And it’s not about just any kind of Baklava. It`s about a very specific kind of Baklava, called „Antep fistikli Baklava“, mostly preferred to be eaten with „Maras Dondurmasi“, a creamy, smooth Turkish ice-cream made with goat`s milk and salep (orchid flour).

Baklava is a traditional and authentic Turkish desert, being dished up on religious holidays or cultural events particularly in the presence of guests. There is a proverb in Turkey „Tatli yiyelim, tatli konusalim“, meaning like „Eat sweet, talk sweet“. For those who are unfamiliar with the dessert: Baklava is a dessert consisting of light, flakily layered phyllo dough and ground nuts – being baked until it all turns deliciously golden and crispy, and then to be doused in sweet syrup. Among desserts, it is famous for being one of the messiest: with so many flakes, finely ground filling and sticky honey, it is nearly impossible to eat it without committing to the sink for several minutes afterwards. But Baklava is totally worth it, when properly made (or bought) — rich and sweet, with so many amazing textures and flavors layered into one triangle — the experience of eating it gets to the verge of transcendency.

So my recommendation to all of you, dear readers: Go to a Turkish sweethouse („pastane“ in Turkish) after a hard and exhausting day (or if you consider yourself as a cook, you can also try it for yourself, here`s the recipe.) Order Antep Fistikli Baklava with Maras Dondurmasi and a little cup (or glass) of Turkish tea. Now this is your moment. This will be your moment of meditational healing, it`ll be the ultimate medicine against all your burdens in life and one of the very special moments you`ll never forget: Close your eyes, grab one of those pieces of Baklava, put it on your fork, dip it into the ice-cream and then eat it. Then take your tea and sip it while you can still feel the pistachios between your teeth and your tongue. Feel it, enjoy it, let your brain produce lots of endorphins and recall that God created lots of other possible ways to get rid of your problems than by drinking yourself to death.

Fat and sugar? No big deal…

If you are worried about your health, Baklava has as many or as little health benefits as pastry; it’s not just a bunch of empty calories like so many other desserts. Nuts are well filled with nutrients, and they’re naturally free of cholesterol. Although nuts are high in fat, the fat is mostly unsaturated fat which has a beneficial effect on health. Honey consumption raises antioxidant levels.

Various studies have shown that both walnuts and almonds have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Nuts are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, folic acid, and vitamin E. Phyllo pastry has no trans-fat, saturated fat or cholesterol and is low in calories.

The length of time Baklava may be stored without becoming unsuitable for use or consumption can last for many months depending on how you store the pastry. Next week we are turning to the second part of my new „culture blog“ here on DIB. See you!

Bye!

Or in Turkish: Hayyding bagam Selamün aleyküm…

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Studiert Wirtschaftswissenschaften an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Derzeit engagiert er sich an verschiedenen Projekten und Institutionen. Dazu gehören politische Hochschularbeit oder auch ehrenamtliches Engagement in diversen Netzwerken und NROs. Er schreibt als freier Autor für verschiedene Publikationen.

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