Podemos: Yes, We Can!

Podemos: Yes, We Can!

Podemos: Yes, We Can

Food not bombs-Istanbul is a movement started by a group of like-minded youngsters who cannot stand the thought of wasting food when there are starving people

Just toward the anniversary of the Gezi protests, a message popped into my mailbox. It wrote “Food not Bombs.” To my astonishment, they were already going to have their 14th event. Food not bombs-Istanbul is a movement started by a group of like-minded youngsters who cannot stand the thought of wasting food when there are starving people.

In an era of a shopping mall centered building boom, they oppose big establishments and draw attention to the hazards of unplanned and environmentally “unconscious” urbanization. Their anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian attitude is not angry or livid. On the contrary, they make a celebration out of what would otherwise be going to the garbage. Every Wednesday, they gather food to be thrown away from greengrocers, markets, restaurants etc. and then whip up a free feast for everyone. When they get together to gather food; food that is going to be wasted, they share stories and talk about urban issues. After gathering (without hunting), they cook, distribute, eat and share.

Remembering Gezi, I could not help thinking about the recently founded “Podemos” movement in Spain. They are a political movement, barely 100 days old. They managed to get around 8% of the votes in the European Parliament elections. Now, they will have five representatives in this supranational Parliament. Podemos was founded by a group of left wing activists. Their leader is Pablo Iglesias; a 35-year-old political scientist.

Iglesias had an interesting slogan, one funnily related to food. He was promising his electorate that “Youth of Spain will not have to work as waiters and waitresses serving tapas in rich northern countries.” Spanish youngsters want to enjoy their tapas; not serve them. Iglesias had a point; youth unemployment hangs around 50% after the economic crisis of 2008 left Spain’s economic and social landscape in distraught. The seeds of the crisis were sown back in the late 1990s, when new legislation on construction led to a construction boom. In 2003 alone, Spain alone invested in more construction than the five biggest economies of Europe combined. After the economic crisis erupted, the millions who took to the streets to protest, referred to as Indignados (Outraged), started to question the effects of capitalist extremism in their country. Podemos reached an outstanding success within 100 days, but its roots in social unrest extends back to the last decade. Podemos, means “we can,” and their slogan strongly resembles Obama’s “Change, we Can!” campaign. But unlike Obama, Podemos encourages a thorough change.

The Gezi Protests themselves took a lot people by surprise, but they also had their roots in a decade long unrest, which included, among other things, the sprawl of unregulated, greedy zest for construction. Every religion considers greed a sin. It might be the worst of all sins, simply described as the inordinate desire to possess wealth and goods far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort. Greed is the high desire for and pursuit of wealth, status and power. Gezi was against greed. Sharing is all there is about food. The spirit of Gezi could unite everybody against greed and pursue sharing!

Bite of the Week

Fork of the Week: One strong point of Istanbul was and still is the “Esnaf Lokantası” institution. They are local eateries just serving lunch for shop keepers and shoppers alike that serve an amazing range of one pot dishes. Just a few steps away from Gezi, there are a few, but there is one that always wins our heart for not changing. Head for Lades Lokantası at Sadri Alışık Street, just off Beyoğlu and have an artichoke braised in olive oil or a lamb stew. Not changing can be good sometimes; I wish Istanbul had not changed so much. We must also support such institutions resisting changing for the worse. “Lades” means wishbone in Turkish, my wish is both to change and not to change, I guess you know what I mean.

Cork of the Week: “Yes, we can!” could have been the slogan of Fevzi Tokat, who passed away last week. Tokat, aged 88, was the founder of Pamukkale winery in the inner Aegean town of Denizli. He was the one who first discovered the potential of his hometown Güney province, now one of the outstanding wine regions of Turkey. The legendary “uncle” had been the muse of his brothers and Selda Tokat, the fiery running-force lady behind Pamukkale wines. Just before his passing away, the Tokat family was enthralled with the new gold awards they received for their latest wines. Pamukkale Meridies Boğazkere-Cabernet Franc 2010 made its way to the Sommelier Wine Awards gold list. Nigel Lister described it as “charming, light, gentle, easy and delicious.”

Another Meridies, Kalecik Karası-Shiraz 2010 received the Decanter World Wine Awards. Look out for those wines and raise your glass for Uncle Fevzi, the man who had a dream and made it happen, telling his brothers: Yes, we can!