Christmas Day In Fethiye – A Tale of Two Cultures

Our Christmas Day in Fethiye usually involves us inviting Turkish friends to our house for the day and force feeding mince pies and other Christmas ‘delights’ upon them. This year, we decided to keep it quiet and just do the rounds, bearing gifts. We were to go to our friend’s house and give them their Christmas present, up to another friend’s in Fethiye and then across to Çalış to visit Barry’s parents and eat Christmas dinner with them.

The visits to Turkish friends was supposed to be a quick, ‘Hello, Merry Christmas and here’s your Christmas gift. Must dash.’ However, what we should be more than fully aware of by now, is that that is just not possible with Turkish friends. Hospitality is everything – the guest is everything! Luckily, we’d given ourselves a bit of leeway with regards to time.

And so a Christmas Day stroll, in the warm sunshine, along Fethiye harbour and to ‘house visit’ number one. ‘We can’t stay. We’re just dropping these off and then we’re going to…’

‘Nonsense. You can come in for ten minutes.’

Before we knew it, we were taking our shoes off, slippers were placed on the doorstep for us and we were sat in their house exchanging gifts. Then came the food…

Turkish Food - Aşure

A VERY traditional Turkish recipe – Aşure / Noah’s Pudding

This is aşure. The story goes that aşure is what Noah made as a last meal on the ark once the floods had subsided. It’s also known as Noah’s Pudding or Noah’s dessert. As there wasn’t an abundance of food left in the ark’s food stores, Noah used the various ingredients that were left over (grains, pulses, dried fruit) and produced this bountiful and very filling concoction. Today, ingredients vary slightly between different regions of Turkey and countries of the Middle East.

Aşure is one of the oldest recipes of this part of the world and at the moment, unbeknown to us (until yesterday) it is aşure time of year. Turkish people make aşure and serve it to family, friends and neighbours. It’s served as a symbol of peace and love – and we arrived just as aşure was being distributed. Spoons were handed to us and a rather large bowl of aşure – not something you want to be eating when you’re just on your way to eat Christmas dinner – but hey, it’s Christmas! What better time for us to be eating aşure?

I swirled my spoon round and round in the bowl to try to identify the ingredients in there. Our friend is no cook and just told us there were ‘lots of things’ in it. I spotted barley, white beans, chickpeas, crushed walnuts, pomegranate seeds, cinnamon (lots of cinnamon). A quick scout around Google pages this morning has revealed that there was possibly rice and rosewater in there as well. A dessert containing chickpeas and beans is not something I would have considered – but it works. We shared a bowl of warm aşure and I have to say, I’m not sure I could have gotten through one to myself. Very rich, very festive (that must be the cinnamon) and then a burst of freshness as the crunchy pomegranate seeds pop between your teeth. Oodles of calories!

We arrived at house number one expecting to offload some gifts and make our bag a bit lighter for our walk to house number two. We left house number one with more gifts than we arrived with and very full tummies! Very fitting that we should arrive at our friends’ house on our Christmas Day in Fethiye just as they were sharing out aşure; a symbol of love, peace and merriment.

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Comments

  1. Hope you’re having a wonderful time with family & friends, Merry Christmas!

  2. wow….amusing dessert! Never heard of aşure before and never heard of Jayp and Julie talking of desserts =P hehehehe…..Merry Xmas n Happy New Year!!

  3. Ahhh, world would be much, much better place if we all just “shared a bowl of aşure”!

    Really enjoyed reading this, while having my morning cup of Turkish coffee 🙂

    Hatidza

  4. @ Peter: Thanks. Same to you. It’s been a very different but lovely Christams so far.
    @ Cardamom Hills: Ha ha. Yes, JayP has now become Julia (nickname to real name) errm and yes, we were GIVEN a dessert by friends. WE didn’t make it! 🙂
    @ Hatidza: Wouldn’t it just!!? Let’s have more aşure. 🙂
    Thanks and hope you enjoyed morning cup of Turkish coffee 🙂

  5. I can not eat Asure. Very sweet for my liking. Thing is though, as you will well know. In Turkey it is impossible to say no, they either take offence or carrying on offering it to you until you say yes, just to keep the peace.

  6. We weren’t even asked if we wanted any Natalie. The spoons were given to us and the asure appeared in front of us. 🙂

  7. I never fail to marvel at what exotic ingredients to Turks throw together and the results are always delicious. Your experience is a point in case.

  8. The pudding looks delicious, any chance of sharing the recipe?

  9. That must have been really nice to have pudding over there. Even Turks have a better Christmas than most people over here in Malaysia. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year 2010.

    David
    MalaysiaAsia

  10. That looks yummy!

  11. Such a warm and entertaining post about your Christmas Day. Aşure sounds and looks great – you’re photo is mouth-watering!

  12. @ Inka: Yes, it’s certainly a concoction isn’t it? I’d have never have put some of those together.

    @ Ayngelina: Loads of different recipes on the internet but I’m going to ask my friend how she does it because she’s a great cook! 🙂

    @ David: It was lovely! It appears that slowly, slowly, the Turks are adopting our traditional Christmas celebrations as their New Year celebrations.

    @ Robin: Filling and rich – a few spoonfuls were yummy! Think we could get used to it though.

    @ Cathy: Thanks. It was a ‘warm’ Christmas Day, really.

  13. @Julia Aşure has nothing to do with Noah.

    Aşure is an Alevi tradition. Sometimes it is name can be different such as in Bosnia it is called Abdal Musa soup.

    Aşure is the mourning day of us. It is the end of Alevi Muharrem Fast and Lunar calendar is different from sun calendar so every year the day is changing according to sun calendar.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alevi

    The Muslim month of Muharram (or Mâtem Orucu) begins 20 days after Eid ul-Adha (Kurban Bayramı). Alevis observe a fast for the first twelve days. This culminates in the festival of Ashura (Aşure), which commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain at Karbala. The fast is broken with a special dish (also called Aşure) prepared from a variety (often twelve in number) of fruits, nuts, and grains. Many events are associated with this celebration, including the salvation of Hussain’s son Zaynul Abideen from the massacre at Karbala, thus allowing the bloodline of the family of the prophet to continue. During the Kerbela Massacre Hussain’s family was under siege for days and this soup is a symbol of all oppressed people and hunger. It is a food dedicated to peace and it is very important for us. Even some Christians or Jews cook Ashure in Turkey also the Roma people in Turkey give importance to Ashure and other important days of Alevis. Ashure is cooked to share with other people and it has love in it.

  14. @ Eastanbul: Our friends and a bit of internet research told us the Noah bit. I also read a little about the period after Kurban Bayram but couldn’t find enough info to write about so thanks for that.

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