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Turkish Social Night at The Turkish American Society of Cleveland

We started the day on Thursday, February 2nd, at Coffee Contacts in Mentor and completed the day at a Turkish Social Night at the Turkish American Society of Cleveland on Madison Avenue in Lakewood where the cultural topic was Turkish Coffee which, considering the uncertainties taking place in the world at this time, was a welcome relief and a relaxing way to spend an evening.

Before the program started we met and talked about several things (including the weather and U.S. immigration policy) with Professor Stephen Cory from the Department of History at CSU. Professor Cory is very concerned about refugees and is interested in cultural events so we gave him the contact information for Refugee Response Network and Clevelandpeople. com. Later, a man from Turkey joined us at our table and we talked about the tumultuous challenges faced by the Turkish people at this time.

Our good friend Ms. Laura Fruscella showed up so we talked with her about all the places that we have been lately and where we plan to go in the near future. Like Sister Rita Mary Harwood, Ms. Fruscella has had recent health problems (she is doing well now) which will prevent her from coming to the anti-Executive Order/ pro-immigrant rights demonstration on Friday but she expressed hope that it goes well and that a great many people attend.

Another person who spoke to us was Ms. Mary Sender, Program Manager of the Art Therapy Program at Tri-C, who remembered us from attending "Culture Shock" events over the past several years. She provided us about an art show composed of works by international artists that will be taking place at Tri-C East on February 23rd and we certainly plan to go.

The program itself was conducted by Ms. Seyma Gurer and offered an enjoyable ride through history as to the origins of Turkish Coffee that first came into being about 1540 and has since become a staple of Turkish culture; so much so that it has been recognized by UNESCO as an important part of the Turkish heritage. Ms. Gurer explained how it is made and how the recipe has evolved over the years.

She also explained that when two people want to get married in Turkey, according to tradition, the groom's family visits the bride's family and negotiates the union. While this is happening the young bride-to-be prepares coffee and serves it to all those involved. But when it comes to her prospective fiancé, she does not prepare the coffee with sugar (as Turkish Coffee normally is) but puts salt in it instead. If the prospective bride groom can drink the coffee with a straight face (fortunately the cups are quite small) then he is regarded as a kindly man and the marriage is on!

We were then served samples of Turkish Coffee so that we could savor it as well as learn about it. We had tasted it previously at various festivals but never before with a little candy that is known as a Turkish Delight that we keep in our mouths while we are drinking the coffee to give it more flavor. As a result, we enjoyed the Turkish Coffee more than we ever had.

During the Q and A, it was asked if Ms. Gurer prepared coffee laced with salt for her husband, Mr. Murat Gurer during their wedding negotiations and, if so, how did he handle it? Ms. Gurer smiled and replied that indeed she did and said that Murat drank it down without flinching; thus she knew that he would be "a patient husband and one who could endure all misfortune."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.