As I sit here in bed, recuperating from the combined effects of a sinus infection gone wild, an ovarian cyst in full protest and a wailing kidney stone, I have had a lot of time to think on cross-cultural approaches to health and illness as they manifest in the Turkish and American variety. A lot of time, that is, in between being totally konked out and/or keeling over in pain.
M. has spent the last several days making tarhana soup for me by hand, fixing it up with French butter from the local store to make it extra special – an adding our most spicy pul biberto assist my sinuses. As M. tells it, this particular soup is the only way to go re: home-spun medicine for a cold. Tarhana is made from a powder that is cracked wheat, yogurt, peppers and tomato that are fermented then dried. It involves constant stirring, akin to risotto, so that nothing clumps together. We buy our tarhana powder from the oldest looking old ladies on the hillsides of Assos/Behramkale and savor it for the rest of the year.
As M. stirs and stirs the pot of tarhana, What a lovely, albeit non-traditional partner, say the little dancing ladies of the chorus, and Hacivad agrees. Karagoz agrees too, even if he scoffs in jesterly fashion at this traditionally female role being taken on by a male, surely a shock to his Ottoman-era origins. We pay him no mind. After the tarhana is consumed, the featherbed back tucked in, there is, you see, the question of air, fresh air. In the fog of the last few days, I have a distinct memory of M. coming into the room to open the window for fresh air for me. “This is good for you, we need this,” he said, as far as I can remember, and the troop of shadow puppets screamed their approval – as in “about time, open the damn window, we are dying in here!”
Wrapped from head to toe in a down comforter and even-warmer canine foot-warmer, I feel pretty good in the warmth, and didn’t complain at all at the cool, fresh breeze. While I could feel it on my face, I couldn’t smell it, as all routes to the nasal passage are blocked for what appears to be the duration. What is odd, therefore, is not that Hacivad the learned and Karagoz the jester are agreeing, what is odd is that I cannot figure out the rules about when it is ok to open the air at night for fresh breezes and when the night air can only be seen as evil, perhaps home to a miasma causing an illness. Just last week, when I wanted to sleep with the window open, something M. often loves, he said “no – I will get a chill.” And how often is it that he decries a new malay of the cold variety as deriving from having the window open? I can’t understand it.
So, in my sick, not-writing-too-much state, cross-cultural couples with at least 1 Turk, can you explain this?
- Karagöz: Consider this a formal introduction to himself (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Lemon and limon, çay and chai: Getting through tough times in a cross-cultural household (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Voodoo or nazar boncuğu? (slowly-by-slowly.com)