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FORK & CORK > Pots and pans: The sound of music

Aylin Öney TAN - aylin.tan@hdn.com.tr

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It appeared like the last resort. What can you do when you’re deprived of any form of expressing yourself... Cry? That’s what babies do. But if your voice is not heard, and if you fear you’ll have a slap in your face the moment you cry, you need a stronger way of expression, and some sound going on, louder than crying and shouting. That is how pot banging came into being. Soon it was everywhere. Some started by a shy click of a spoon and a tea glass, some were more bold turning cauldrons into drums. The kitchenware revolution has started and it will go on. Pots and pans seem to be the only weapons of housewives and mothers. Banging them to create a somewhat disorganized orchestra might be the only way of relief for the masses that feel suppressed. The prime minister deaf to the cries of “the other half,” speaks of pot banging as noise pollution, but for many this cacophonic harmonious orchestra plays the music of freedom.

Using household utensils as means of protest is not a new invention, of course. This has been done before, in many countries, in many instances. Actually it is known with the Spanish term Cacerolazo or Cacerolada, derived from cacerola, meaning “a stew pot.” It is also known in English simply as “casseroles.” It has been the answer of people in the streets to rulers deaf to the demands of the public. It started in Chile the 1970s as a way of protest to the shortcomings of the administration of Allende. It was adapted by many Latin countries, perhaps because they have a culture infused with rhythm. In Buenos Aires just a few years ago, the sound of cacerolazo went on for days and nights, echoing up and down streets and squares for hours. It was the rebellion of the middle class when the bank accounts were frozen. Argentineans apparently liked the sound of pans, last November Plaza de Mayo resonated by the vibration of 8N, the massive anti-Kirchnerism protest. The Latin beat spread to other countries too, all captivated by the pulse of protesters. Just a month ago Venezuelan pot bangers were arrested by the police.

In the Turkish case, it must have been in the genes of the Turkish people. The Turkish sense of rhythm is in fact loud, very loud. No celebration is without davul-dümbelek, the drums banging on every possible occasion. Every football team goes to the matches with their own drummers, no wedding is complete without a drummer and even the early morning call for wake to fasting in Ramadan is made with drummers pacing in the streets. Every kitchen utensil can be turned into an instrument of music by Turkish people, it is easy to imagine pans as tabors, plates as tambourines. Clacking wooden spoons to start a dance is the Turkish equivalent of Spanish castanuellas.

In Turkish history there is an awkward connection between drums, weapons and kitchen utensils. The elite guard known as the Janissary Corps held great power in the Ottoman Empire. Janissaries used to raise cauldrons to start a riot, turning the soup cauldron upside down, and banging it with ladles like a drum. The Janissary organization was based on the model of a kitchen. High-ranking officers were called çorbacı (soupiers or soupmen). Other military ranks were designated by culinary terms; aşçıbaşı (chief cook), the karakullukçu (scullion), the çörekçi (baker) and the gözlemeci (pancake maker). The entire corps was known as the ocak (hearth of fire) and was commanded by an ağa (master). The kazan-ı şerif, or sacred cauldron of çorba (soup), was the emblem of the whole Janissary corps, and the Janissary headgear was ornamented with a spoon. Important decisions were taken gathering around the sacred cauldron. So, to overturn the cauldron to a drum beaten by the spoon meant more than it sounded. It was pure rebellion. No sultan could turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the sound of cauldron banging by the Janissaries.

When the prime ministers ordered mothers to take care of their children the message was taken. Mothers did follow his commands and they reached out to their children. They were in the square at once, of course with their pots and pans.
Cacerolazo was the answer Latin people against bad governance. So some drumming with cauldrons might well be the Turkish response for deaf politicans who refuse to listen to the people’s voice. Many sultans suffered deadly consequences with cauldron raising riots. Why not repeat history?

Keep the rhythm going! Overturn the cauldron, bang your pots and pans...
It is the music of freedom.

Bite of the week

Cork of the week:

No soup recipe, and no fork suggestion this week. We reject the food offered by politicians. Drink while you can and enjoy a fiery drink. Go Latin and make a hot Bloody Maria with tequila. A good recipe with a punch would one part tequila with two parts tomato juice, a generous dash of tabasco and a sprinkle of celery salt. Rub the rim of a tall glass with lemon; put some sea salt and hot chili pepper in a saucer; dip the rim of the glass in the salt-chili mix; fill the glass with ice cubes, pour over the tequila and tomato juice mix; and serve with a wedge of lime and a celery stick.

June/17/2013

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