Today we had another amazing day in Bursa.
We met a Master Karagoz maker named Şinasi Çelikkol (Sheen-ah-see Chel-ike-kol) in the old antique market. He was very talented and charming, and we spent time sharing my interest in Karagoz (car-a-gooz) and music, and we sang and joked for quite a while. Karagoz is a puppet who is much like Punch and Judy, except it’s Karagoz and Hacıvat (Hah-jee-vaut) (or Laurel and Hardy) and many other well-known characters. I fell in love with them the first time I saw them, and I had been wanting some Karagoz characters since I saw them in 2009, the first time I came to Turkey. As a matter of fact, while here this week, I purchased a book in English on the subject and had it sent to my home while I was still in Istanbul.
In the end, I bought up a near complete set of his work so that I could do little shows when I get home. I plan to incorporate some new characters who will be based on people I really know and will use these as templates. I’m so excited!! I can’t wait to share this new fun art with all of you.
Then we packed up and went to the small village of Yenikarağaç (Yen-ee-car-ah-ach) in search of hand-knitted socks, of all things. Once a huge cottage industry, several of the village men told us no one did it anymore because it wasn’t worth their time due to the price of wool and cheap machine-made socks. But after some careful and gentle prodding, we were presented with a few pairs made by one of the gentleman.
Another told us they used to have contests to see how fast they could make them. One of the men shared that he had a machine that made some, and he invited us to come over to his home. There we met İsmet (Eez-met) & Saniye (San-ee-yeh) Yaldız (Yawl-deez), who still practice the art of 5 needle knitting of çorap (socks) and slıppers (çektik). Saniye was quite sad at first, and told us about her many sons who passed. She shared several pairs of slippers with us, and said she had made them for a gentleman with a big family (maybe why she was so sad about it). My friend Mary wasn’t quite able to figure out why she had them, but 80 year old Saniye, whose gnarled, arthritic fingers created them, was willing to let us buy them from her. I bought every pair I could! They had beautiful traditional designs on them, and although the slippers were not made of wool (synthetic fiber), they are colorful and beautifully made by Saniye’s hand. I love them and will share them with folks back home who will love them, too. I felt So good to support an artist’s work that is quickly being replaced by modern machine knitting.
Then we set out again to find the lakeside village of Gölyazı (Gol-yah-zeh). We found a cafe on the water’s edge and sat and relaxed watching the ducks frolic, the herons fly, and the fisherman trolling along (actually we were told all the woman fish and the men sit in-the cafes waiting for them). It was incredibly peaceful and relaxing as we sipped strong hot “as şekerli” (a little sweet) kahve and savored some lokum (Turkish Delight).
The fish. Omg. Fresh pike. Prepared in such a beautiful way with a light tempura-like batter, lightly seasoned. So incredibly fresh, the chef told us it had just been caught that morning.
They also served a delicious Spiced Red Pepper and Tomato paste purée that went well with the fresh ekmek (leavened bread) and fire roasted vegetables. The simple salad of shredded cabbage, carrot, onion, and parsley was refreshing with the light lemon dressing. The entire meal cost 165 TL (approximately $8), including our coffee. It would have been a bargain at double that. We may have been their only customers today. We felt blessed to be able to visit with them. I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area to look up Apolyont Et Balık Kahvaltı (Ap-ol-yont eht bah-leek Cawv-aul-tee) in Gölyazı near Bursa. You won’t regret it.