Every meal has its own dessert. Every relationship has a beginning, a middle and an ending. Happy or sad.
When I was a child back in our little village Karlslunde in Denmark I was always grateful for being partly Turkish. This feeling of almost relief or convincing always came out on a silent Sunday, as this was one of the days where we had lots of guests visiting ( oh my poor mum and aunt and all the other aunts who visited us could never sit down and just enjoy themselves and each other’s company only. There was lots of work to do cleaning, cooking, serving and partially looking after us children.) This stupid serving cycle never ended. This taking advantage of women’s domestic labour is sadly also my first visible and conscious love for my Turkish culture (as I have had many times where it doesn’t speak my temper. And where I do not love it. In fact I hate it. And it becomes a burden to me in many ways).
On Sundays most of my friends who were Danish back then when I was six, the year I started school looked lonely to me since i.e. my friend Lotte only had her parents and her older brother Morten around her most of the year. Sundays were the day I got scared of the Danish silence. The only sounds coming from the church chimes/ bells ringing and the birds tweeting very clearly from our huge garden.
I even encouraged my already worn out poor mum to knead some dough for a bread so that if there were no guests present, the Turkish superstition could at least work its ways(: meaning that a bit of dough would splash out of the dough to randomly land somewhere in the kitchen which would then be interpreted as someone would visit you that same day. And it ALWAYS worked!
I felt really sorry for Lotte and also for Anna, Rikke and Bitten in my neighbourhood in Møllehaven and for the rest of the Danish kids at school and at my kindergarten. They seemed like they had only had visitors a few times a year.
I once again on a weekly basis concluded that I was happy we were not Danish.
I used to eat my breakfast which was mainly the Danish brunch styled up Turkish in my communal garden in my shared ownership flat in Frederiksberg in Copenhagen.Having a Turkish boyfriend and later partner and husband taught me a lot especially the importance of Turkish breakfast. When I was sitting in my bed one day last week still feeling sorry for myself, guilty, shameful and abandoned and all alone in the world missing my ex and hoping someone would call me and invite me over for breakfast the Turkish way, my friend Ayten all of a sudden called me and said “atla gel” (translation: “just jump onto your bike an get here”) we are only just heading for the desert. Which in Turkish means the jams, sweet parts of the breakfast. Or ‘bal kaymak’ which is honey and the Turkish clotted cream ( in London ‘ bal kaymak’ is not the same. probably the tastes, the weather, the smells, the Turkish stress and high service along with the view of the blue Bosphorus is missing…). Nonetheless she said that I could still make it. They were only just heading for the desert. That meant I had still plenty of time as the amount of Turkish tea to be consumed in the tiny little ‘ince belli’ tea glasses, the conversations on being queer and Turkish and the general never-ending conversation topics could take some time I knew.
Indeed I took my time; went into the shower, read a bit and tried on different outfits even. I was ready to leave the house now. When Ayten told me that they were still not finished with their breakfast, I remembered the “revelations “ of Turkish breakfasts once more. I just couldn’t write it down back then or that morning. Today was the day for things to come together because I have stopped loving you. Stopped waiting for you. When I came to Ayten’s place I was of course late AGAIN as always. But Ayten still made me a portion of creamy, fluffy, scrambled eggs, just like I love them. Later that weekend I looked on YouTube to make my own fantastic creamy scrambled eggs. And a little later we all had the breakfast desert (jam and butter on toast) together in our little self announced “friendship-family”; Ayten, Gülnur and me.
Breakfast is also one of the things I cherish very highly about Turkish culture. The importance of this meal and how it has a whole pallette/menu of both sweet and savoury in one go that you can dip in and out of; sweet, salt, then sweet, then more salty or less saty and then end it up with a finalising sweet again. In and out. And the moment I discovered the beauty of this range of flavours to my senses I drew the cartography of this breakfast meal in my head. A whole spider web model of in and out, back and forth, up and down…
It wasn’t just müsli (sweet, crispy, sour and cold). It wasn’t cornflakes (too sweet and deliciously crispy and icecold milk). It wasn’t egg and bacon where you get your jam on the side if you get it as a whole plate even. These days money wise the breakfasts are paid for individually as tapas to build up a whole meal in London it seems.
Danish brunch does it very well too actually although being a newish tendency with only 15 years of existence almost.
Definitely the Turkish breakfast was speaking to me and in a different way than for example the Danish brunch which I absolutely love love love.
However my ex-husband and I partly also among many other issues broke up because of my love and huge interest in/ passion for food. I’m ok now. I dont feel guilty, different, difficult, snobbish or wrong anymore to be me. I try not to blame you. I have let go. And I love food, talking about it, making it, eating it, planning it, writing about it. I am me and you are you. And it is really ok if you want to eat really shitty food for the rest of your life.
As the Turkish say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I have learned to believe in this after years of being exposed to other cultures’ breakfasts.
Although I love the Danish brunch I have found that it has too many rules for a creol like myself. It starts with the perfect müsli as the base. When it’s served separately as the first thing at the Danish brunch I always felt that it was a heavenly concept for many years. I who hate müsli on its own or when its served with other things on the same plate. And I wouldn’t touch it at all since I feel it’s not something that you just dip in and out of. To me it’s the starter of the Danish brunch when the right amount of crispy pan toasted granola or müsli, tiny dry fruit pieces, the homemade coulis and cold sour tasting yoghurt comes together evenly on my spoon. The Danish brunch has the great spicy beef cocktail sausages, the homemade cream cheese with Danish chives, homemade bread, various jams, and nutella made from scratch in house, a roulade of salmon and creamcheese, different cheeses, American pancakes with maple sirup, (and fresh fruit on the side).
Denmark is worth going if even only going for the brunch, the open rye bread sandwiches, the heavenly bakeries, anything Christmas related and Louisiana Museum with the view to Sweden across Øresund.
Oh I forgot the additional freshhh fruitt! Ok I admit it Danish brunch is the best one as it also contains sweet and salty elements on the plate, but depending on my mood, my need to reconnect with being Turkish or Danish. Still I prefer the Danish brunch out of the breakfasts I have been presented to this far in my life.
But does the Turkish breakfast exist in the UK? No! Although Kilis on Upper Street tries with their Turkish breakfast buffet.
And maybe because of my revelation around my own needs for dipping in and out of sweet and salty I have also discovered that I am indeed a true hybrid. Sometimes it is like NewYear’s Eve every day. Maybe I’m not being exclusively hierarchical French when I prefer the sweet desert both before and then again after my dinner for instance.
Maybe the overflow of various tastes consumed at the end of New Year’s Eve and the day after makes sense finally; dipping in and out of sweet, spicy, savoury tastes of leftovers. Without any specific order, without no beginning, no planned end, no hierarchy, no what’s best for you. First salty, then sweet? No! The map I draw when eating Turkish breakfast is different.
As desert comes anytime I like it in between, first or last or in repeat. Shuffle my way through Turkish breakfast like I do with my music; Western, Eastern—> mixed!
In the future I will start asking to have the müsli at the end when in Denmark. Although I will then wait longer to be served as Im not being served the alreday readymade müsli, while waiting for my brunch plate. I can do anything as I’m not only Danish, I’m not only Turkish. I can thus dip in and out of sweet, salt, savoury. If I was to draw the lines of me putting my fork in and out of the different senses I am simulating when re-mapping my food habits, I can finally think of you with less almost physical sorrow in my words, my flesh, in my breath when thinking about your breakfast rituals and the way that only you nourish, cherish and almost pet/ caress your jam when carefully layering it onto the top of a slice of sourdough bread from the E5 Bakery with Danish Lurpak butter underneath. You squint your eyes together almost closing them fully for a split of a second smiling to me in a thankful way whilst taking in the moment of the perfect balance of jam and butter onto the E5 multiseeded sourdough bread. And Im smiling back. I’m not scared of my bereavement of having lost our mutual secret language as a couple and as friends, what we had together around Arts, Cinema, conversations and writing anymore. Not scared of remembering the good things either even though it has taken me a long time to be able to contain the good emotions as well as being angry and sad.
Im not in denial of what once was. The good things were always there in our relationship it is other things that I questioned, but it was because of your obvious confusion within yourself. Your inheritance of expectations from your pretend white upper middle class Turkish parents and your wish for a non-critical blonde blue eyed girl which we collaboratively analysed on so many times; blaming it on the last days of the Ottoman Empire and it’s conflicting modernity. Due to these things I never knew what our story was. I didn’t get the full picture, as I was simultaneously trying to figure out my emotions, my reactions,your needs, and analysing you in order to help you and save our relationship and myself in an attempt to survive.
You told me not long ago;” We all do therapy, but…” I later reflected over this and said to you in my mind that you were not the one who got abandoned and rejected. You didn’t know what you were doing as you acted out of fear alone. Fear of marriage. Fear of not being able to taste other women. Fear of never getting to have the imaginary blond woman you, your parents and Turkish society dictated you to be the one you should love. I’m not gonna go into the troubled modernity of many generations of “white” Turkish men mainly. I’m only gonna dip in and out of life like on that plate of Turkish breakfast; sometimes salty, sometimes sweet and sometimes in between. I might not always be able to choose good or bad things happening in my life. But at least I will be able to taste it. Taste what is what, really feel it. Be honest to myself and you and others. So that I can write and read and see the picture of my life story at least.
None of the things you said made sense. I was not in a relationship with you, but with your interpreters who were your close friends and your brother who kept convincing me that you liked me and loved me and didn’t really mean what you said and did. They were also there convincing you that I was good enough, intelligent enough, beautiful enough. For a short while you believed them and gave me a break from that blond girl ideal that you were so obsessed with in your head. You never knew what you wanted or needed and you sure never saw who I really was. My worth!
The night you stopped in the middle of making love to me and told me that you had finally found out that actually you were only turned on by blond girls. Where to I again was very understanding, as I had occasionally really felt this, and packed my stuff the next day while we both cried as you escorted me to our nearby bus stop comforting each other while still staying friends. Just up until a few weeks later when you came to my door step again in my rented London Fields room in that pink house on the corner. How I wish you hadn’t. I wish you had stayed away from me. I wish you never wanted me back when I had left for Denmark in 2012. I wish we never got engaged or married. It was all a lie. You were never ready for me nor for marriage. You are now though. Since now that you found a blond girl with blue eyes your obsession will no longer become a hindrance for “true love” or for real marriage where you are not embarrassed of showing your wife or looking at her with admiration and devotion throughout your wedding day. You know I’m right it shows on the wedding photos.
This was the end to our story as I understand it. I really still enjoy the love for breakfasts that you implemented in me.