Best Spirit’ book award goes to ‘Rakı Encyclopedia’
MELİS ALPHAN ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
The Rakı Encyclopedia competed with a cachaça book from Brazil and two cognac books from France and Switzerland.Every year, Gourmand gives away awards for gastronomy, and hundreds of publishers, authors, chefs and journalists take part in the event.
This year’s award ceremony took place on Tuesday night, at the historical Paris theater Les Folies Bergere.
The Gourmand Awards could be called the “Oscars” of culinary, wine and spirits books. They give an excellent view on the changes and trends in culinary books, focusing on quality, not sales and quantity.
The awards committee states that the current economic crisis is having surprising and profound consequences, with a clear shift in cookbook quality from the West to the East and the South. This is due more to the rapid progress of the emerging powers than to the stagnation of the traditional leaders.
Latin America is becoming a world leader for quality in the sector, although the U.S. and France still have a clear quality edge over other countries. China and Africa are progressing quicker than most realize. The quality in Australia is outstanding.
Put together by Overteam Publications under the sponsorship of Yeni Rakı, the leading brand in Turkey’s national drink, the Rakı Encyclopedia achieved spectacular success by placing first in the “Spirits” category of the Gourmand Cookbook Awards.
The Rakı Encyclopedia competed with a cachaça book from Brazil and two cognac books from France
The encyclopedia traces rakı culture across a historical span longer than 500 years. It is the first systematic reference book to present a comprehensive, balanced account of Turkey’s legendary drink. Providing a deep look at the lore surrounding the mainstays of rakı, (the “çilingir sofrasi” and the Turkish style tavern “meyhane”), it examines the historical, social and cultural forces that have made rakı the sine qua non of modern Turkish life.
The Raki Encyclopedia includes:
v Some 1755 entries by 55 authorities, exploring rakı’s unique place in language, history, geography, literature, humor, philosophy, science, art, mythology, music, cinema, folklore, popular culture, urban culture, drinking lore, cuisine and botany. v Over 1200 pieces of visual documentation, some of which have never been published before.
- A list of each of the approximately 200 brands of rakı that have entered the market since the beginning of Ottoman industrial rakı production in the 1880s.
v A new and systematic exploration of rakı cuisine, based on the vast array of traditional mezes that have evolved specifically to accompany rakı. - Portraits of famous writers, artists, musicians and actors known for their passion for rakı, as well as of anonymous figures who became legendary for their love of the drink.
v The stories of more than one hundred historical meyhanes which have earned themselves legendary status.
v The first ever in-depth look at the folklore surrounding raki, featuring a host of fascinating, unknown details. Erdir Zat, editor-in-chief of Rakı Encyclopedia, said that writing the book was not an easy task: “We’d charted a difficult course as it was.
The scarcity of sources dealing specifically with rakı, the limited research done on the subject, the scattered nature of references to rakı culture in literature, as well as th limited time available in which to finish the encyclopedia, were among the difficulties we faced.”