As part of our monthly focus on cultures in Atlanta, Go Eat Give hosted Destination Turkey an evening to discuss the cuisine, culture, travel and issues in Turkey. The event was held at Cafe Mezo, a Midtown establishment opened in January 2014 by two brothers who migrated from Istanbul. Kemal, one of the brothers, was visiting US as a tourist, and met his future wife. They got married and decided to stay back for 2 years to gain some experience living abroad. Turned out their passion for the restaurant business lasted much longer, so they decided to open another restaurant in Atlanta (the first one being in Istanbul).
The evening started with networking and cash bar featuring traditional Turkish beverages such as Ayran (non alcoholic yogurt, water and salt), Boza (fermented bulgur with water and sugar), Raki (strong, clear, anise-flavored spirit, similar to Greek ouzo and French pastis), and a selection of Turkish beer, wine, tea and coffee.
A private space upstairs seated 50 Go Eat Give guests who enjoyed family style dinner in an in time environment. Cold Mezes (appetizers) included delicately spiced shoksuka (eggplant salad) and sweet and savory carrot salad, served with warm bread. For entree, long wooden planks boasted tender pieces of Mezo lamb kebabs and boneless chicken kebabs, decorated over thin sheets of pita and dressed with an unassuming bulgur and onion salad. Vegetarian diner enjoyed a special platter of grilled vegetables prepared just for them. For dessert, we had homemade Turkish Baklava with chopped pistachios and honey, that tasted like it had just come out of the oven a few hours ago.
Dr. Mustafa Sahin, who runs academic affairs at the Atlantic Institute shared his journey of coming to the US. He said when he wanted to go abroad to study, he only thought about US. Except for the good education system, he was fascinated by the fast cars (as seen on popular TV show Knight Rider) and the city of Miami, where Turkish people dream to have a home at. When he arrived in Atlanta, he realized that the popular Italian restaurant called Veni, vidi, vici is actually a Julius Caesar phrase that means “I came, I saw, I conquered” that originated from Zile, a Tokat province in Turkey, where Dr Sahin grew up.
Dr Sahin pointed out that Turkish-American relations dated back to 1802 when President Jefferson appointed a US consulate to Smyrna, Turkey. Even today, Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca Cola, cardiothoracic surgeon and award-winning author Mehmet Öz, along with a number of scientists, professors, and business leaders are contributing to the society at large.
Click here to see the full speech by Dr Mustafa Sahin
Live entertainment was performed by a local artist, Joshua. A self taught American dancer, he was deeply interested in the male form of belly dancing called köçek. Popular in the Ottoman culture, the köçek was typically a very handsome young male rakkas, “dancer”, usually cross-dressed in feminine attire, employed as an entertainer in the courtrooms. The male dancers were generally more prized than the female ones.
Watch live köçek dance at Destination Turkey.
Joshua wowed the crowd with his sword balancing acts and encouraged the audience to participate. Not everyone felt so confident with sharp edged swords on their heads, but at least they posed for photos and had the most unique Turkish experience in Atlanta.
Go Eat Give organizes Destination events every month featuring a different country. Sign up for our mailing list to receive an invitation for the next destination.
794 Juniper Street
Atlanta, GA 30308