Panem et circenses

Panem et circenses

Bread and circuses is a useful phrase to keep in mind that can easily be used for any populist policies round the globe, if not here. The coronavirus spread proved that many countries, including the richest and most powerful ones, do need to get better governance, especially in reinforcing their healthcare systems. The virus also showed that it is capable of making people go out of their minds within minutes and turn them into circus performers in the maddest circus ever.

Friday night was one such case in Turkey, especially in Istanbul. Only two hours before midnight, a total two-day weekend lockdown was announced, starting at midnight the same day, to be valid in 31 provinces. Within a quarter of an hour many districts in Istanbul went practically crazy turning into a wild circus. People ran to still-open markets, groceries and bakeries, creating a packed crowd lining for meters especially in front of bakeries. The obligatory masks were not yet efficiently distributed, so many amongst the crowd did not have the necessary precautions to keep safe. For the ones who did wear masks, their mask-wearing attire was rather questionable, some leaving their noses and nostrils revealed, some pulling the masks down when speaking or shouting to others not to cut in line. Needless to say, many lines broke, sometimes ending in fistfights. In the midst of this craze, social media addicts turned into avid reporters from the field wherever there was a heated argument sparking. One such incident was filmed on an amateur phone camera, recording an almost acrobatic flying kick, an amazing performance worth re-watching several times. It went viral instantly, shared on social media including the midnight news bulletin. When mentioning the word social, again needless to say, social distancing was completely forgotten, almost instantly, on the contrary, one could easily speak of social packing. With serious kick fighting and head-diving, the whole scene was a crazy folly.

This crazy bread-hunting circus made me break my oath not to write about the bread-making craze at homes. Even friends that were seriously trying to stay away from carbs and proteins started asking me bread recipes to share, people I could never ever imagine with an apron in the kitchen, evolved into serious bakers, some becoming self-acclaimed sour dough experts. Reportedly after the craze of pasta stocking, stores occasionally ran out of flour and yeast too. With all the time at home, sourdough starting to become like a trend topic, of course posting a picture every single hour was almost obligatory, even more important than the actual bread itself. Rising sourdough yeast starter pics surpassed lovely kitty pics, and golden fluffy bread videos coming out of the oven surely were more popular than playful golden retriever shoots. I found myself scribbling three easy bread recipes (one is a version of the infamous no-knead bread recipe, now making its debut) in one Turkish-language article of mine, totally out of my usual format. Fear of running out of bread must be built in our genes. I can find no other explanation.

Fork of the Week: If you have a good loaf of bread, you can have breakfast not only in the morning, but also anytime in the day. When I was a child, it was almost customary to have a late-afternoon small breakfast when we came home back from school, and it is occasional that we do sometimes have breakfast instead of dinner. When home-officing, or in lockdown, time seems to be irrelevant, so a sustainable breakfast table set on a corner seems to be a good idea. To turn breakfast to a true feast, you need top quality jams and preserves. Etrog delivers this to you. Their citrus preserves will bring all the sunshine from the southern province of Adana right to your table and shine like jewels on your much-valued precious slice of bread. To list a few of their creations, El Camino from tangerines, Vortan Garmir from blood orange, Miryam from bitter orange peel, Hagar from kumquat, Cedro from citron, Freya from bergamot, they are all exquisite. Call 05327372201, or write to, but check the website or Instagram page @etrogconfectionary first.

Cork of the Week: Lockdown made the wine lovers go to taking measures to reach the right bottle. As companies are not allowed to sell online, and markets cannot include alcoholic drinks in their online shopping carts, many were restricted to the nearest corner store restricting the choice enormously. But tough times are open to creativity. Our beloved wine stores can arrange carriers to fetch you the bottles of your choice, many now have advantage 6 bottle-cases, well worth the money. Check the Instagram accounts of your favorite stores and you might be surprised by surprisingly good deals.