Saturday, July 13, 2024

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Being From Izmir

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Izmir, the pearl of Ionia, is not just a city; it is a way of life; it is freedom, peace, multiculturalism, and privilege.

As Victor Hugo wrote in his ‘Les Orientales’ Izmir is a ‘Princess’; a beautiful, elegant, curious, powerful, and loved one.

Izmir is the third most populous city in Turkey; a modern city with a temperate climate and 629 km unique turquoise coastal line of the Aegean Sea with its untouched bays, sandy beaches, and magnificent sea, with its ancient cities listed in the World Cultural Heritage and the temples considered sacred by Christianity, happens to be one of the places with a remarkable combination of the shining sun and full of history.

Izmir is one of the best holiday routes in the world for sun & sea lovers. You could either immerse yourself in the fresh and crystal-clear water of the Aegean Sea in ‘Çeşme’ or go to the colorful ‘ALAÇATI’, beaches which are worldwide known as Surf & Kite Paradise district, offering you all kinds of water sports almost 300 days a year. While you could sunbathe and swim in the daytime, you could make enjoyable walks in the narrow and peculiar streets of Alacati, famous for its historical stone houses, windmills, various fancy restaurants & cafes, and shops. For sure, it could be a very tempting option to welcome the first lights of the morning after a crazy fun night in one of the high-class clubs of the area.

Izmir has plenty of options with the district of Urla, Foça, Karaburun, and Seferihisar where you could both cool off in the cool waters and eat the freshest fish against the magnificent sunset accompanied by raki called ‘aslansütü’.

You could smell the history wherever you go in Izmir, feeling as if you are in a time warp. One of the major reasons for that feeling is the ancient city of Ephesus, which is a favorite destination of tourists visiting Turkey because of its breathtaking ruins and significant historical and religious significance. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, are listed in World Heritage. The temple attracts Pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean. Ephesus was also one of seven revelation churches mentioned in the Bible’s New Testament, which stated that it had forgotten its first love.

Since the 5 th  century, ‘the House of the Virgin Mary’ a domed cruciform chapel seven kilometers from Ephesus, became a major place of Christian pilgrimage and was also visited by Papa VI Paul, Papa II. Jean Paul and Papa XVI. Benedict. Devoted Christians should visit the Virgin Mary’s house, believed to have been her last home before she ascended.

If you are interested in discovering traces of ancient civilizations, seeing how people lived thousands of years ago, and being one of the most important and well-preserved ancient cities of the Hellenistic period; Pergamon is a truly magnificent site to visit. Pergamon, also known as the Ancient City of Bergama, is located in the Bergama district of Izmir and was included in the World Heritage List UNESCO in 2014. Its historical value was also officially registered. Home to many important archaeological structures and wonders; such as the world-famous Altar of Zeus is now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The Temple of Serapis which is one of the 7 churches mentioned in the Bible, is the steepest theatre in Western Anatolia with a capacity of 10 thousand seats, Pergamon should be on the travel list for archaeology and mythology lovers. The Ancient City of Pergamon has a place in the history of medicine, as it was home to one of the most important ancient healing complexes in the region. 

One of the essential experiences of getting to know new places and perhaps the most effective one is to get to know and try the cuisine of that region. The fundamental factor that caused Izmir cuisine to be very rich is the combination of a mild climate, its soil structure, migration, and trade routes that passed from Izmir. When describing the gastronomic peculiarities of Izmir, we should start by mentioning the high-quality locally made olive oil.; the greatest gift of nature to a human being, this oil is widely used in the national cuisine. Moreover, the richness of the natural resources in the region, its fruitful soils in which various kinds of grasses, fruits, and vegetables grow, and the clean sea where all types of fishes and marine animals live are the other reasons for our rich cuisine culture…

It would be a mistake not to talk about ‘kumru’, a breed of bird. It is a delicious toasted sandwich prepared with artisanal bread, typically associated with Çeşme, and is one of the must-taste. ‘Boyoz’ is another Turkish pastry, which is prepared exclusively in Izmir, this flavorful pastry is served as an essential part of breakfast when it is accompanied by hard- boiled eggs sprinkled with black pepper and a glass of Turkish tea sure to be tried. Street food of Izmir does not let down the ones who love street food. Kelle söğüş, kokoreç, and mussels are also among the favorite street tastes of İzmir.

Izmir is also renowned for its excellent bakeries and desserts. A popular local delicacy is ‘Sambali’, a dessert made with semolina and yogurt. ‘kazandibi’, a milk dessert, and ‘lor tatlısı’ made with lor cheese, ‘lokma’ fried pastry ‘sakız kurabiyesi’ cookies with mastic., you see every corner in Izmir streets.

To fully describe and understand Izmir, it would be impossible not to underline the beautiful, self-confident strong Izmir woman first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Izmir which was once founded by an Amazon princess, the city that Aristotle said: “If you don’t see it, you will be incomplete”.

Could it be a coincidence that Cleopatra, the famous Queen of Egypt, known for her beauty and fondness for pleasure, came to Izmir on vacation in 188, or could be by chance, signing the first Women’s movement in the pages of history in 1828, occupying the streets with their children for 3 days as a reaction of increase in bread price…To be born with such a privileged fate confirms the saying “geography is the destiny of mankind” and to be a woman of Izmir.

Being a woman from Izmir is a medal that you will proudly carry for a lifetime, not only with its beauties registered in the world but also with its elegance, sincerity, naturalness, upright stance, productiveness, striving for existence, in short, its lifestyle.

The Izmir woman wants to be an actress of life, not a spectator; she crushes everything that is imposed and perverted as taboo, and she expresses her ideas freely. Quality, efficient living is essential for her.

Izmir women are like the weather of the city. You never know when it will rain or when the sun will shine, like a cool breeze blowing towards you from the sea in the scorching heat of summer.

There is always art in her life. She makes music, writes poetry, and acts, which is why many of Turkey’s most successful female artists come from this city.

As our famous poet, Sezen Aksu, who is also from Izmir, says in one of her songs:

She is female, a mother, brave, sweet, and grumpy.

They are loyal and reliable both in war and love.

In summary, I am and will always be proud to hear ‘It is already obvious that you are from Izmir’; Being from Izmir is a privilege that cannot be known without living in İzmir, being an Izmir woman…

Fitnat SASAL
Founder and CEO of CELINE FOOD & CONSULTING Company.

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