Northwest Language Academy presents ‘Language of Food Series, Hoşgeldiniz, Welcome to Türkiye’

Posted in Culinary, Feature, More Stories, Music

Whidey Life Magazine Guest Contributor
March 25, 2015

Just a few days from now, on Saturday, March 28, you will have the opportunity to visit Turkey—without leaving the Island. How about that for a magic carpet ride!

The NWLA Cultural Center will be hosting a very special installment of their popular Language of Food Series, Hoşgeldiniz, Welcome to Türkiye. This unique series explores the nature of cultural identity and community. Through the lens of traditional cuisine and culture—and the ways in which they maintain an unbroken relationship with traditions of the past—the NWLA seeks to build bridges of understanding between peoples and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous world.


Mevlevi Order of America’s Mutrib Orchestra (photo courtesy of NWLA Cultural Center)

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Turkey has been called the bridge between the East and West; one-third of the country is in Europe and two-thirds is in Asia. It has been inhabited by humans since before the Paleolithic age.

The oldest known temple, Göbekli Tepe, dated back to 10,000 BC, is in southeastern Anatolia. Some of the exquisite carvings recently excavated are turning anthropology on its head, as they are dated to a time before what was previously considered the “pre-tools” age.

Turkey is the land of the legendary city of Troy, the seat of the Byzantine empire and the Ottoman empire and the home of the founder of the Sufi practice—known to us simply as Rumi.

Turkey is 99% Muslim and is the terrified and reluctant gatekeeper of an intensifying conflagration that is threatening our global community.

Izumi Fairbanks  (photo courtesy of NWLA Cultural Center)

Izumi Fairbanks

These are just a few grains of the amazing information shared at the “Treasures of Turkey” presentation on March 22 at the NWLA Cultural Center in Langley—a whirlwind slideshow through the treasures of this amazing land and its colorful and complicated peoples, the glorious kilims, myths, and delicious food.

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The Hoşgeldiniz, Welcome to Türkiye event on Saturday begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. featuring a Turkish bazaar, with crafts, jewelry and artifacts available for purchase. Traditional Turkish beverages like anise and pomegranate tea and Ayran will be served, followed by a feast of Turkish specialties, prepared by Sureyya Gukeri of Seattle’s famous Café Turko.

Gukeri is passionate about Turkish culture and simple, delicious meals and will lead a cooking class preceding the banquet, from 2 to 5 p.m. that afernoon, focusing on authentic Turkish food that can be made quickly and easily with local ingredients, as well as the country’s famous coffee culture.


Bob Beer

After dinner, participants will get the chance to enjoy a variety of music and dance performances, including Turkish folk music, with exotic instruments like the balgama and kemenche played by Izumi Fairbanks and Bob Beer. The Anadolu Youth Dancers, Northwest FolkLife Festival favorites, will also be performing.

In addition, members of the Mevlevi Order of America’s Mutrib Orchestra will present a program of classical Turkish music as well as songs and dances specific to Turkish Sufism. These will include ilahis, a call-and-response form of singing, in which the audience is encouraged to participate, sung by vocalist Jemilla Goldstein. An additional treat will be a demonstration of the Sufi practice of “turning.” The evening will conclude with Turkish popular music by the amazing group Sehr-I Seattle.



Most importantly, those people lucky enough to attend this installment of the usually sold-out evenings, will once again have the opportunity to meet extraordinary people like Erden Erduc, who was born in 1961 in Nicosia, Cyprus and raised in Turkey. At the age of nine, Erduc heard that a man had walked on the moon and he announced his dream to become an astronaut so that he could go to the moon too. He was told that he could not, because only Americans could be astronauts… and he was Turkish.

So instead, Erden undertook to do a solo circumnavigation of our planet, entirely by human power: sea kayak, rowboat, bicycling and hiking. He’s crossed the oceans and climbed to the summits of the tallest mountains on three continents, and done all this by human power and alone.

Erden Erduc with his wife as he completes his journey—41,196 miles, the first entirely solo and human-powered circumnavigation of the world.  (photo courtesy of

Erden Erduc with his wife as he completes his journey—41,196 miles, the first entirely solo and human-powered circumnavigation of the world. (photo courtesy of

Erden says he’s in the business of realizing dreams, and helping others achieve theirs. He brings his stories to children here and in Turkey, as the basis of lessons on goal setting, realizing dreams, overcoming obstacles, and dealing with tragedy. Come meet Erden and make new friends from the bridge between East and West at the Hoşgeldiniz, Welcome to Turkey event.

For more information and to reserve a place at the table contact the NWLA For more information about the performers on Saturday evening, go to

Image at top: several of the Anadolu Youth Dancers during a recent performance  (photo courtesy of NWLA Cultural Center)


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