Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Istanbul's 'GOOD' side

Fascinating, frenetic, and often frustrating, Istanbul can sometimes seem like it’s defined by its unmet potential. With its young population and incredibly rich history, Istanbul should be a hotbed of innovation, but is unfortunately hampered by a lack of diversity, a vast wealth gap, and a political system that limits civic participation—as was plain to see during this past summer’s mass protests... 

The quarterly magazine GOOD reached out this past fall to get my take on Istanbul for its "GOOD City Index," a new feature highlighting "the cities that are emerging, the ones that are figuring out their growing pains or flourishing under the radar."

The final piece, published in GOOD's Winter 2013 issue under the headline "Celebrating Possibility," shines the spotlight on 20 up-and-coming cities, from Accra to Wellington. My writeup on Istanbul appears at number 7 on the index (n.b. I asked for the Bosphorus to be correctly identified as a strait, rather than a "river" but the error was not fixed as promised).

Download a pdf version of the entire "GOOD City Index" or a smaller pdf of the introduction and Istanbul section.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In the Migrant Kitchen

Sara moves around the large kitchen with laser-like focus, filling a tea glass of water to add to a heaping pot of saffron rice with one hand while sautéing a pan of tart, red dried berries, walnuts, raisins and slivered almonds with the other. The resulting dish, zereshk polow (barberry rice), is a
Zereshk polow in progress.
popular one in Sara’s home country of Iran, but not so easy to make in neighboring Turkey, where she is living as a refugee...


When the International Organization for Migration’s Turkey office and the food website Culinary Backstreets first organized their "Migrant Kitchen" events last year, the rare chance to eat authentic Ethiopian, Filipino, and other foreign cuisines in Istanbul brought variety-starved expat foodies (myself included) out in droves. This year, I got the chance to peek into the kitchen while Sara, an Iranian refugee, cooked up a traditional feast, and to talk to her about her family's struggles in Turkey and the role food plays in creating a little sense of home in a strange and not always welcoming land.

Read the rest of my article, "Refugees Speak In The Universal Language Of Food In Turkey," on Zester Daily.