Sep 27

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A Survey of the World – Turkish Delight

A Continuation of our Survey of the World – Cultural World


It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,” said the Queen presently.  “What would you like to eat?” 

“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight.  Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious.  He was quite warm now, and very comfortable.

                                                         –  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis 

In our last survery of the world, we had our feet tickled by a “fish pedicure” in a Turkish spa.  For this survey, we will remain in Turkey and have our taste buds tickled.  Unlike magic wardrobes, and fawns, and talking centaurs, Turkish Delight was not a concoction from C.S. Lewis’ imagination.  It is a true confection, and, yes, it was invented in Turkey, well over 200 years ago.  At the same time that our colonists were dumping tea in the harbor of Boston, a Turk named Bekir Effendi developed a revolutionary new alternative to the hard confections of the day.  Termed “Lokum” (Arabic for morsel), the confection was made with a mixture of honey or molasses, water, and flour.  It was then flavored with cinnamon, lemon, mint, orange, rosewater, etc.  (Later versions contained various types of nuts, and powdered sugar or powdered cream of tartar were sprinkled on the outside.)

Bekir Effendi opened his confections shop in Istanbul in 1776.  Incredibly, the business is still in operation in the same location today.  Those master colonialists, the British, eventually became aware of Lokum and took a real fancy to it.  It was the British who coined the term “Turkish Delight”.  It also came to be known as “Lumps of Delight” (which, to me, is not nearly as appetizing).  Soon, it was all the rage in well-to-do houses all over Europe.  It became customary for upper crust aristocrats to give gifts of Turkish Delight to other upper crust aristocrats, carefully wrapped in silk handkerchiefs.  Oh so ta ta.



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