Turkish Rakı ..

Turkish Rakı ..

Edmond Riche, a professor at the University of Kansas, determined the incredibly positive effects of anise combined with grape juice through a special process on, human health.

Conducting a similar study, Sir Alex Harley, professor of biochemistry at Manchester University , determined that the best combination of grape juice and anise is in Turkish rakı.

According to Harley, the benefits of conscious consumption of raki are endless.

  1. It relaxes the blood circulation by opening the veins,
  2. The blood pressure return to its normal level,
  3. Due to adequate blood flow, brain functions accelerate     and the whole body relaxes,
  4. The grape and anise mixture helps the liver,
  5. Stress is reduced to zero point and a significant blow is dealt to the diseases of our age caused by stress,
  6. When taken with friends, the feeling of happiness reaches its maximum.

Did you see?

So what we DON’T need!

  • Yasadilators (vasodilators) ,
  • Antihypertensives (blood pressure reducers),
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners),
  • To antioxidants and choleretics (liver protector and increase bile flow),
  • Antidepressants, anxiolytics (depression and anxiety relievers),
  • Pack-by-pack dark chocolate to increase serotonin,

It means that it is very soon that “Turkish Rakı” will be written on doctor’s prescriptions. It’s okay!

When I say rakı, let me briefly say a few things about raki;

It is known that there have been taverns in İstanbul since the Fatih period and that they were left over from Byzantium. Evliya Çelebi wrote in his Travelogue that more than 1,000 taverns affiliated to the Hamr (Drinks) Trust operate within the judgeships of Tahtakale, Galata, Eyüp, and Üsküdar, and the number of employees in these taverns has reached 6,000. The main districts where these taverns are located are: Ortaköy, Arnavutköy and Yeniköy, Tarabya, Kuzguncuk, Çengelköy and Kadıköy. All of these districts are the districts of İstanbul where the non-Muslim population is dense, and tavern farming was the business of non-Muslims as a rule at that time.

In the Ottoman period, taverns were divided into two classes as “bistro” and “gedikli”. Gedikli taverns were licensed and their numbers were limited. Bistro taverns, on the other hand, were operated illegally.

Generally, special jars were used for rakı in taverns.

According to a rumor, rakı was named Lion’s Milk, inspired by the lion reliefs on the rakı jars.

The masters of taverns were called Barba, which means bearded oldman in Italian. The barbas were helped at a young age by the “Miço” boys. The term “masturi” was used for the heads of the food and beverage counter. The cook prepared the meals, and the cook had an assistant.

Another group of servants in taverns were “köçek” and served as dancers. Saki’s were mostly chosen from young and beautiful boys of effeminate type, especially from Chios Greek and Coptic youth, who had a beautiful face, good-natured nature, and a good stature.

The food served on small plates in taverns is called “Meze”. Meze means to taste in Persian. The table where rakı is served in small plates, appetizers and special glasses is also called “Çilingir Sofrası”, which means kind in Persian.

Since rakı was started to be made in Iraq about 300 years ago, it was called Iraki.

A 15-20 cl. handleless jug or bottles in which rakı is served are also called karafaki or carafe. Drinks similar to rakı have been given different names in various countries and regions. The French called it Pastis, the Spaniards Anis, the Japanese Sake, the Macedonians of Greece as Çipuro, the Cretans as Chikudia, the Athenians as Ouzo, the Chios as Mastika, and the immigrants from İstanbul as Duziko.

In the old taverns, there was no rule in serving food and drink, but there was harmony. Rakı was poured into glasses, but it was drunk not with a glass, but by sip from the glass, with pleasure.

Rakı drinkers were called those who drank at the time of kerahat and those who remained in the dose of drinking. Those who remained in their decision would have the title of clean drinkers. This decision is 16-20 cl. said. Moderately drunk, it does not get drunk, but gives a sweet pleasure.

Rakı is brewed and drunk. Then rakı cannot be drunk without water, nor can it be drunk with ice.

Rakı is drunk with very cold water. You can’t eat much with rakı, cold and then hot appetizers are eaten in small plates. There is no such thing as a main course. If the target is “rakı & fish”, excessive appetizers cannot be eaten beforehand.

In the past, there were bistro taverns. Lastly, Elmadağ was a small shop at the beginning of Babil Street where all radio house artists were regulars. I can’t explain how fun it was. There are no tables in bistro taverns, there are only bistro tables. The tavern keeper prepares “A’la minute” appetizers at his small counter in the corner. People would stop by to throw “two singles”, they wouldn’t hang out much.

Those cute bistro taverns are no more.

Hüseyin KURTOĞULLARI

29.11.2020, İstanbul

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