On June 20th, 2015, people from several different backgrounds and beliefs came together around an iftar table in Kars. They broke their fast with a menu consisting of a selection of delicious food prepared together by Armenians and Turks, representing both nations’ kitchen and culture.
Women on the two sides of the border between Turkey and Armenia are coming together this time in Kars, after Gyumri, and presenting the dishes they cook together to the people of Kars in time for Iftar.
Under the Project “Beraber Az mı Tuz Ekmek Yedik”, conducted by the Caucasus Business and Development Network (CBDN) in collaboration with the Kars City and Culture Research Association, women from Gyumri and Kars joined together to host each other in their respective countries. Representatives from CBDN met with Turkish and Armenian professionals from food business and together they paid visits to 10 different villages. The officials visited homes around Gyumri and Kars, met with the women, listened to their stories, held conversations with the local cooks about the project and got to taste the dishes made by the women participating in the project.
The first cook shop was held in Gyumri last month. At the event, women from Kars were guests at the kitchens of the women from Gyumri. The same cook shop was held again, this time in Kars, between June 19 and 20. Accompanied by experts in cooking and officials working on the project on their way to Kars, the women participants from Gyumri shared the common recipes for an Iftar dinner event in Kars.
“Beraber Az mı Tuz Ekmek Yedik”, a saying that exists both in the Armenian and Turkish languages that roughly translates to ‘How many meals have we shared together?’, points out the unity, friendship and shared experiences of the two cultures. With an eye to build bridges between the two peoples by highlighting the common cultural heritage, the project underlines the similarities between the Turkish and Armenian cuisine. The project, which has the motto “Peace start in the kitchen”, also includes the production of a documentary film. All the stories and recipes will be published as a book as well. The project, which is conducted by Kars City and Culture Research Association (KAŞKA) is sponsored by International Alert, German Marshall Fund, U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the Swiss Embassy and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Building Bridges Through Food
Turkish alumnus Ihsan Karayazi has tackled peace-building using a unique tool: a universal love and appreciation of food. After participating in a U.S. Department of State’s Professional Exchanges and Training Program for emerging leaders in Turkey and the U.S in 2008, Ihsan has gone on to complete a number of innovative projects intended to increase mutual understanding between Turkish and Armenian communities.