Children of power
Today is Children’s Day in Turkey. When I was a child, Mother’s Day was not that significant, or better to say, not that commercial, but we always had a children’s day celebrated throughout the country. April 23 National Sovereignty and Children’s Day is a national holiday in Turkey dedicated to children. The day marks the first meeting of the Grand National Assembly in Ankara back in 1920 during the War of Independence. That meeting was the inauguration of the parliament and laid down the foundations of a new secular independent republic. In 1924, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Republic of Turkey, declared the day as the National Sovereignty Day and dedicated it to children.
April 23 is in a way like the first one in a series of four national days. The day stands for a new beginning, marking the start of the parliament of a country yet to be founded. This start leads a crescendo of national holidays: May 19 marks the start of the War of Independence, Aug. 30 is Victory Day, and finally Oct. 29 is the national day, the day the Turkish Republic was officially declared. That is why the day is dedicated to children, as they are the future.
As spring is the start of a new harvest year, spring festivals have always been a celebration of nature in Anatolia. April 23 is also St. George’s day, Aya Yorgi in Turkish. People flock to the Aya Yorgi Church on Büyükada, the biggest of Prince Islands. Muslim, Christian and Jewish alike, it is a tradition to go uphill to the church and make wishes lighting a candle in hopes to have a happy year. In the old days the church visit was only complete with an alfresco feast of spit-roasted lamb, nowadays people just go to an open-air restaurant nearby. The day is celebrated as a spring festival all over the Balkan countries. A native of Salonika, Atatürk, I suspect, chose the day deliberately as the day stands for new starts and good will hopes for the future.
If only for one single day, children of this country feel as if they have the absolute power. Everything evolves around them; they are celebrated through a series of events from balls and parties to big performances in stadiums. But one particular tradition remains to be extraordinary: They take over the parliament.
All parliamentarians, including ministers and the prime minister, give up their seats to children, and the children assemble at symbolic meetings. This is the moment when the dual meaning of the day becomes a reality; after all it is also the day of the parliament. Every time I watch this take-over ceremony on the news I cannot help but say to myself that the country would be better governed if that mock parliament was not for a single day but permanent, and wonder what would happen if the children remained in power.
“Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people.” This is the motto of April 23.
The future belongs to children but we have to admit that we are not doing our best to lend them a good world.
Recipe of the Day:
For some strange reason the day is also strawberry day for me, perhaps we usually make a strawberry tart or cake to celebrate Children’s Day. Well, it is the perfect season for strawberries, so it makes sense to have a treat with the most joyous spring fruit. This particular recipe is a delight especially for children. Süt-Burger, aka Milk-Burger, is a home-made version of the popular milk cream filled chocolate pancakes, a healthy no-sugar one with fresh strawberry and cream filling, much better for kids compared to the store-bought ones. The recipe is from my food celebrity friend Refika Birgül; it is launched today on her YouTube channel to celebrate the Children’s Day. Whip 1 egg, 100 ml (½ small carton) cream, 5 tablespoons of molasses and 180 ml milk until well mixed; add gradually 150 g of flour, 1½ tablespoons of cacao powder, 1 sachet each of baking powder and vanillin powder and a good pinch of salt, continue to whip until all dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Let rest the batter in the fridge for a couple of hours, better overnight. Heat a flat skillet and wipe with an oil-soaked paper towel. Drop the batter one small ladle or tablespoon at a time to make small pancakes. When small bubbles start to form on the surface flip over to cook the other side. When all the pancakes are ready, whip 100 ml of chilled cream (the rest of the carton) until stiff, sweeten with 1-tablespoon honey and whip to mix. Chop 5-6 strawberries in smallish cubes and fold in to the cream. You may also add 3 teaspoons of cacao powder to make a chocolate version, make sure to whip thoroughly until the cacao is thoroughly mixed. Spread a teaspoonful of strawberry cream on each pancake, thicker in the center, thinner on the edges and cover with another one sandwiching the cream between two pancakes, pinch the edges to close. Keep the cream-filled pancakes refrigerated; they will be even better the next day. The video will be on air as of April 23 on: https://youtu.be/RdNO5HF9OrQ
Fork of the Week:
Cream is the ultimate partner of strawberries. Some of the whipping creams sold in the market are plant based, when it comes to strawberries a real cream is a must, so opt for İçim Şef Krema, it is 35 percent fat pure cream. Do not forget to chill before whipping.
Cork of the Week:
A fruity demi-sec white will perfectly pair with strawberries; Kayra’s Leona Bloom 2017 is a good choice. Made from local Muscat grapes of the Aegean province of İzmir, it is not cloyingly sweet but fresh and juicy, like biting into a golden apple, bursting with elderberry, honeysuckle, rose and chamomile, full of floral notes, just like flowers blooming in spring air.