My intention in keeping this blog has never been about only and only promoting our gourd lamps and our business.
From the very beginning, I wanted to introduce other gourd artists, other local crafts and other things about our culture and our way of living. Yes, we have a lot of arrogant people (like all races do) but most of us are genuine people, simply trying to make a living and look after the family. Exactly like yourselves.
After living in several countries for over 20 years, I concluded that we are a race misunderstood and a race who can't clearly express themselves.
Alanya, A region of nomadic culture
Although I am not a native of Alanya, I have a lot of respect for anything cultural in this area as the locals here as descendants of a dying race; the 'Youruk Nomads'. And you know what they would do with the calabash before they started crafting them? They would use them as small water tanks to carry water when they were moving from one place to another.
And today, on a nice but slightly rainy Sunday evening in Alanya, I want to write about a little bit of the local cuisine and a vegetable almost forgotten. At the end of the day, we are supposed to be influenced by where we live, where we breathe and even what we eat.
A crafter grew up in a kitchen.
I personally grew up in a kitchen. My mother was renowned for her cooking. I can comfortably say that she has spent more than half of her life in the kitchen either for us, for neighbors, sometimes for her own pleasure. She turned into a small businesswoman who would be cooking orders for customers before she passed away. Her cooking skills were so advanced at that stage.
No matter how much time I spent outside, at the school or outside playing with friends, I would return home and the only place I would find mom would be the kitchen. So I spent a lot of time in the kitchen simply making cooking and cuisine a natural part of me before I realized that this was happening to me.
So today I picked up 'Okra', a vegetable you can't easily find in every corner. Yes, we get tomatoes all time of the year at this stage, but we hardly get okras anymore. And I wonder if the new generations actually know about it? I hear okra usage is increasing at certain parts of the world but in the age of Mc Donalds and fast food, I question the scale of this awareness.
I made a little research about okra before I drafted this article. Apparently, the okra has many benefits like all the vegetables do. They improve digestion and vision. They lower your blood pressure, boost immunity and have wonderful effects on your skin like all the greens do. Isn't it sad that a vegetable can make all of these to you but you need to go to the pharmacy to take all these in the form of a pill? Maybe in about two generations most people will not know about this amazing creation but will seek its secrets in the hospitals, clinics, and therapists?
I remember my mom cooking okra when I was at the primary school. In those days, we weren't so nutrition aware. As a child, I presume all I was interested was sausages, burgers and chips and sweets and desserts. But mom would cook vegetables. Aubergines, courgettes, cauliflower. I remember resisting her and insisting that I would eat something I wanted. My father would swallow those beautiful dishes while I was dipping my chips in ketchup and mayonnaise.
And today if I bump into an okra dish or a cauliflower, that's where I choose to have my lunch or dinner. And you know what is the worst thing about it? Unlike most of the stuff which mom cooked and I would use as a reference to gauge what I eat outside today, I can't gauge any of the vegetables I eat outside today. I have never tasted them from my mother's kitchen. Rest in peace Mom. And salute to those moms who battle with their kids to make them eat something healthy. In this dying age of computers, video games and internet, fast food monsters seem to be stronger than them. And this article is a reminder of okra, a wonderful creation of Mother Nature, a gift actually. Maybe someday some youngster will read about it and decide to change eating habits. You never know.