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Yadigar (Keepsake)

Dili: İngilizce
Yayınlanma Tarihi: 02/11/2021
Güncellenme Tarihi: -


Food is a universal practice that brings people together. Cooking a dish involves the sharing of personal, social and cultural experience that passes on from generation to generation. As the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) Ankara Community Center, we started pursuing a common recipe to bring together people from different cultures and geographies in scope of our social cohesion activities. This is where our paths crossed with women living in the neighborhoods of the same city. With the inspiration that we gained by means of the unifying power of preparing dishes, we placed our kitchen stories at the core of our social cohesion works.

As SGDD-ASAM Ankara Community Center, the idea of putting the theme of food culture at the center of our social cohesion activities started being shaped with a documentary that we watched. First, we began to consider the transformative effect the invention of fire and consuming food through cooking had had on human groups and the catalyst role of cooking and eating together in the socialization of human beings as well as in the development of cultures. We debated on how migration and human mobility diversified, since the ancient times, the ways to use heat, marinating and cooking techniques, fermentation methods, main ingredients used, oils, spices and sauces all of which contributed over time to the shaping of food cultures. We sought to trace back the socioeconomic conditions that people come from on the basis of these differences over time. Our excitement multiplied as we read, watched and shared. This excitement brought us back to “The Power of Women Hoping for Peace Digital Storytelling Workshop” that we had organized with Burcu Şimşek and Şengül İnce, our esteemed instructors from the Digital Storytelling Workshop of the Hacettepe University Faculty of Communication. Our reunion with Burcu Şimşek and Şengül İnce evolved into a series of workshops through the expertise and the guidance of our esteemed instructors, and eventually resulted in the creation of Keepsake.

As part of these challenging but greatly valuable and enjoyable work, we, as refugee women and women from the host community, first came together in the “Who is in the Kitchen?” meeting workshops. During the workshops, we played the game “If I were to be a Food…”. We identified ourselves with a dish and then introduced ourselves through the characteristics of that dish. We likened our cheerful state to the overflowing of milk, our maturity and advancing age to fermenting, our disappointment and sorrow to water drops dripping into hot oil, our hopes to the flavors of fruits, our friendship and solidarity to halva served on both good and bad days… We conveyed our cultural dish recipes through sharing our personal stories. We reminisced the old days. We talked about the lands where we enjoyed our childhood, the houses we were born in, the neighbors we had, our wedding ceremonies, funerals, the tables of luncheons and celebration dinners we had, the cities and streets we migrated to, and most importantly, the scents and tastes, which are still vivid on our minds, from our own personal histories… We shared with each other the recipes we inherited from our mothers, grandmothers, friends and neighbors. As part of the “Digital Storytelling Workshops”, which were held as the continuation of “Who is in the Kitchen?” workshops, we shared the same kitchen where we cooked together, sat at the same table and tasted the dishes we cooked. As a result of the efforts and guidance of our instructors from the Digital Storytelling Workshop of the Hacettepe University Faculty of Communication, the digital storytelling activities took place during the period women spent their time in the kitchen. In this way, this book was created not only in the form of a recipe book, but also in the form of a documentary as well. In the kitchen, while exploring the differences between our food cultures, we noticed that we have more similarities than we originally thought. The value inherent in our work increased incrementally with the friendships formed while working side by side on the same kitchen counter, as well as by the fact that these works enabled intercultural interaction and transfered through dishes. In the course of the “Who is in the Kitchen?” workshops held with the participation of over 100 women, a total of 116 women who wished to contribute to the creation of this book created the content of the book with 141 recipes they shared. Consequently, a large team was formed, and each and every team member took part in the “making” of this book voluntarily and exerted devoted efforts. We are grateful to our valued instructors Burcu Şimşek and Şengül İnce, who enabled us to implement the “Food and Food Culture for Social Cohesion Project”, were with us during each stage of the project, guided us with their experiences and expertise and made it possible for us to exhibit one of the best examples of women’s solidarity. We would like to extend our thanks to the Rectorship of Hacettepe University and to our implementing partner Hacettepe University Faculty of Communication for their cooperation that enabled us to implement the project.

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Evren Sertalp, Çağrı Çakın and Yunus Emre Cangönül, who made great contributions throughout all the processes of Digital Storytelling and recorded our stories, and to Erkin Gökçer who gave life to the book with his unique design.

We would like to thank the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality’s Şafaktepe Women’s Clubhouse, the Altındağ Municipality’s Çamlık Women’s Education and Culture Center, and the Keçiören Municipality’s Turuncu Kafe for bringing us together with the women benefiting from their respective centers.

We sincerely thank the Bilkent University’s R&D kitchen team for providing us with a warm environment during the preparation of our dishes and our storytelling process.

We would like to extend our gratitude to Azize Çelik Baş, who created the content of and executed the “Who is in the Kitchen?” meeting workshops; Suzan Öztürk, Samia Ahmad Al Kader and Sama Hussamaldeen Hussain Hussain, who provided interpretation support during the workshops; Tayfur Özdemir and Yasin Ülker, who were with us during the workshops’ logistics and procurement processes; Ayşe Nil Beysanoğlu and Hakan Çetinkaya for the technical support they provided; Ahmed Amer Saeed Alkattan, Ali Sameer Hadi Hadi, Ayşegül Akyol, Derya İpekçi, Esin Kotan, Gizem Barutçu, Gizem Sökmensüer, Gurbet Göster, Hatem Derya Şahin, Khadija Tarkmani, Nassar Mohammed Ali Abdulhadi Elyas, Pelin Koç, Sama Hussamaldeen Hussain Hussain, Sevim Elif Akkaş, Yasemin Çelik and Yusuf Alkan for their contributions to the translation and editorial processes of the book; Cansu Oba, Nazlı Dülger and Hamide Kayadelen for their valuable support throughout the work; Esma Uzunoğlu for her unique illustrations that gave life to the book; and finally, all SGDD-ASAM staff members who contributed to the creation of this book.

We are genuinely grateful to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for its support, which has made it possible for us to continue our efforts at our center since 2016.

…And perhaps the biggest thanks should go to all the women who gave this book life and earnestly shared their recipes and stories with us… We cannot thank enough to those strong women who made the coexistence possible with their delightful and original recipes from the Turkish, Syrian Iraqi and Yemeni cuisines. Combined with the delicious dishes, the moments, recipes and stories that we shared left a delicious taste in our mouths as well as unforgettable and treasured memories on our minds.

We earnestly hope that while reading this book, you will be able to learn, and perhaps try cooking, the recipes passed down from the previous generations and also to feel the laughter we had and the tears we shed when cooking these dishes, as well as the feeling of trust and warmth we exchanged with our loved ones at the tables…


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