Friday, April 24, 2015

Diplomacy over the dinner table

In Turkey, it’s börek; in Israel, burekas, flaky layers of phyllo dough stuffed most commonly with cheese, spinach or minced meat. And the savory pastry isn’t the only thing the two cuisines have in common.

“You find a vast use of fresh vegetables, greens, spinach, olive oil, light fresh cheese, goat’s milk, and black pepper [in both countries],” says Tel Aviv-based chef Ruthie Rousso. Like Turkey, she noted, “Israel gets most of its fish from the Mediterranean, and enjoys the [same] climate and the produce which comes with it.”

Turks and Israelis have few opportunities to revel in their shared gastronomic heritage, however. Political tensions between the two erstwhile allies have been running high over the past six years, with reconciliation attempts thus far unsuccessful....

Enter an innovative program at Istanbul's Kadir Has University to use culinary similarities as a way for people from countries with strained diplomatic relations to start to find other areas of common ground. So far, the Food for Diplomacy project has has hosted chefs from Armenia, Greece, Israel, Syria and Ukraine. The story I wrote about it for Zester Daily was also featured by MSN on its Food Culture page.

Read my article, "A Place At Turkish Table For Armenians, Israelis & More," on Zester Daily.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Visions of Istanbul

The crystal chandeliers and balustrades of the 19th-century Dolmabahçe Palace soar above the lobby of the Raffles Istanbul, digitally stitched together into a hyper-real photo-collage of ornate architectural details. A full eight metres high, the piece provides a striking focal point for the sleek, airy space, welcoming visitors to a hotel infused with art, and with the city’s history.

In making this signature photographic work, French artist Jean-François Rauzier has “transformed reality, and in doing so launches the viewer on a journey into a dream of historic legend and modern fantasy,” says Matthew Whitaker, director of global art-consultancy firm Canvas, which curated more than 200 original artworks for the Raffles Istanbul.

“Rauzier’s rich and fantastical photographic composition was designed for the Lobby Lounge as a way to introduce hotel guests to The Dream of Istanbul and to draw them into the experience, making them feel that they are enveloped by the fascination and mystery of the city first-hand during their stay,” Whitaker says.....

Read the rest of my article on the Raffles Istanbul art collection, featuring more than 200 specially commissioned works by Turkish and international artists, in the Spring 2015 issue of Selections magazine: "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" (pdf)