It’s Mother’s Day here in Turkey and we have decided to go to the village for breakfast. We steal some roses from the complex gardens before leaving; they smell beautiful, the pink ones in particular and these I believe are the ones that make rose ice cream.
We stop at the village firin for bread, then round the corner to pick up Ayfare, Hussein Amca and their children; Helin and Murat. Ayfare is going to Safye’s house to help her make yufka (flatbread); we drop her off on the way.
At Dursun’s house I hand over the flowers with a ‘Anne Gunu Kutlu Olsun’ (Happy Mother’s Day) and a couple of kisses before going to the kitchen where sister in laws and aunts are waiting for us. A large silver tray is on the floor and on it is cheese, goats butter, home-made tomato sauce with green peppers and black olives lounging in a bowl of olive oil. We pass around the hot bread we have just collected from the village firin and breakfast commences with family chit chat and lots of cay.
After breakfast we head over to Safiye’s house to see Nine. While I have been in the UK, Nine has been diagnosed with tumours. They are all over her body but the results have come back with benign and it doesn’t appear that they are cancerous but still, everyone is worried.
At the back of the village we pull up in-front of the house with a corrugated iron roof held in place with tractor tyres. Nine is in the garden with her stick doing a bit of gardening, Berfin and Fatos come running at the sound of the car shouting ‘Kym abla geldi’ as they join Helin and Murat around my legs, clutching at my skirt. I am the Pied Piper here in the village; all the children follow me around and everyone hands me the babies as soon as I arrive. I think I must smell like chocolate!
Nine greets me as I bend and kiss her on both cheeks, my eyes glued to the huge tumour that is distorting her chin. I want to reach my hand to it and zap it away with my willpower. I do no such thing of course, instead I reach for her bucket but she shoos me away and retains her independence as she picks it up and carries it herself.
We follow the sound of chatter into the small brick built oven where Safiye and Ayfare are making the yufka, arrange ourselves on plastic chairs and wait for Berfin to make cay.
Out of all the village relatives, Ayfare is the one most like a sister. We joke around and tease each other and always have a good banter, normally about our lack of cooking skills compared to the rest of the family! Here is a woman with a smile that never leaves her face; she is a beauty and great fun and of course the mother of Helin who, from a baby was stuck to my hip.
Instead of describing the bread making to you, I thought you may like to see for yourself:
Murat and Hussein leave us women and we do what women do best: natter away until we hear a car pull up.
‘Murat?’ Ayfare asks
Through the opening I see it’s not.
‘Bedir Amca’ I say and at that Ayfare and Safye stop what they are doing and rearrange their clothes, pulling their headscarves back in place and ensuring their skirts are pulled all the way down to their ankles. The chatter dies down and we all assume our respectful positions for the arrival of Bedir Amca (Dursun’s older brother) and Crazy Uncle who is with him.
I stand up to shake hands as they both welcome me back and at the same time berate me for being gone too long.
‘I was very worried’ Bedir Amca says, ‘I was scared you were not coming back’. I reassure him that the only reason I was gone so long was down to Jordan and business.
On hearing the name Jordan, Crazy uncle beams and asks after ‘bizim oglum’ our kid for want of a better translation – his English family as he calls him. I bring them up to date on the ins and outs of my trip as we drink cay and the girls carry on with the bread making.
Murat and Hussein return, have a quick chat with the Amca’s, then decide to bugger off to Altinkum. While we have been chatting, Safiye has told Berfin to go to the kitchen and take out a chicken. She returns when the men have left and tells Safiye that there is no chicken in the fridge now as Baran has taken them.
‘NE’ (WHAT) Safiye says with a look of thunder on her face
Baran, her eldest son, has decided to go for a picnic with his friend to Orman Kampi. He has taken not one but two cooked chickens from the fridge that were meant for dinner.
It is and it isn’t funny. Safiye and Hyder have four children and Nine lives with them also. They are the poorest of all the family and under those circumstances, they can’t afford to lose two chickens but, the scene is comical and we can’t help but laugh. Safiye rings Lami (another Amca) who owns the café at the dolmus stop across the road from Orman Kampi – She tells him to warn Baran what he is coming home to!
The Yufka sits in a pile; two weeks’ worth that has taken three hours to make. The last two pieces to come off the fire have been spread with butter made from goat’s milk, torn into pieces and handed around.
‘Lezetti’ (delicious) I say out loud ‘Ama tavuk daha iyi’ (but chicken is better) I tease Safye
Dursun erupts with laughter and slaps her hand on my knee ‘Oy Kym, Oy Oy’ she says….
I’ll leave you with this photo – Safyes idea to scare the birds. I’m calling it a shoecrow