BELGİN AKALTAN - [email protected]
Of course the prime minister is right. As always. There are variations in drinking rakı, the Turkish national drink. As the prime minister of this country, naturally, he knows best.
Rakı is a Turkish drink. It is not the same drink as the rakia of the Balkans. It is an unsweetened, anise-flavored hard alcoholic drink. It has its own culture of eating, as well as table manners and conversation style. It is often served with seafood or Turkish mezes, a selection of small dishes served at the beginning of large meals. (Oh God, all of a sudden I want to quit writing and settle in an Aegean village and drink rakı and eat mezes for the rest of my life until I burst.)
Anyway, this is all taken from Wikipedia except the wish in parenthesis. Wiki continues: It is similar to several other alcoholic beverages such as pastis, ouzo, sambuca, arak, and aguardiente.
Whereas the raki you find in several Balkan countries is produced by distillation of fermented fruit. Rakia is predominantly accepted and considered to be a national drink of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia (end of Wikipedia and wishes).
Some tourists visiting Turkey have created a cocktail where rakı is mixed (never, never and never is rakı mixed with anything [except water if the PM excuses us]) with a sugary, carbonated lemonade. To produce a “disaster.” Turkish bartenders and Turkish bar goers have named it so; disaster. It is a true disaster not even worth mentioning. It is against all the known aspects and concepts of rakı. But, somehow this completely disastrous version of rakı has survived. There must be something appealing to the non-Turkish palates about this true disaster.
The drinking of rakı with water was on our political agenda last week because Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
mentioned it in his Parliamentary group speech while trying to imply that the opposition leader was tipsy: “I am curious what they [the opposition] are drinking. It seems that they are drinking rakı with water.” Rakı makes Turkey go round
The master of rakı drinking, Aydın Boysan was immediately consulted, like within about 12 minutes, on what the PM’s words meant. Aydın Boysan said Erdoğan’s words did not mean anything. “There is no difference between drinking rakı with or without water.” Boysan said the prime minister frequently used such expressions to condescend drinking culture.
Melis Alphan from daily Hürriyet wrote that it was a total surprise that the PM spoke of a variation of rakı drinking, an area he is a total stranger to. While social media was saturated with comments, Melis Alphan went down to Beyoğlu, a district of Istanbul famous for its abundance of pubs, taverns, inns, bars, restaurants and streets where you can enjoy yourself and drink, despite the attempts of the conservative district mayor to stop all of this (oh God, I want to quit this and go to Beyoğlu right now).
She (the lucky b****, Melis) sat down at a table with friends, poured some water in her glass of rakı and two ice cubes, made a toast and immediately the table next to them commented: “Don’t forget to put a lot of water in your rakı, and then drink it.” Was this for the pleasure of doing something just to contradict the PM or was it just a simple rakı joke? Well, it does not matter when there is rakı around! Analyzing the PM’s comments, some speculated, “Those who mix rakı with water are not considered man enough. He must have meant that.” Another interpretation was that “Our ancestors must have been drinking rakı without water.” While another table was discussing that in “deep” Anatolia, real men drink rakı without water, and the PM implied that CHP
(main opposition) guys were not real men.
Here is a selection of the comments on social media:
@koraypekozkay: Nobody seems to have correctly understood the mighty: So it is the water that is the sin.
@Cetings: Is it banned now? Which one? Drinking rakı? With water? Without water? Tell me.
john nartland: 50 percent of the population understood what the PM was saying even though they did not understand it; the other 50 percent did not understand it even though they understood.
Sadık Mert Teziş: Since he is obsessed with rakı this much, I kind of suspect he is drinking secretly.
Cengiz Bilir: If he only took a sip, then he would get what he has missed.
Ebru Kural: Esteemed prime minister, I generally put ice in rakı. Could you tell me if that’s OK?
Meanwhile, do you find it appropriate that haydari is served with rakı?