by Jia Ying Chia
Forget a kebab, the Turkish Culinary and Culture Festival in November 2022 showcased the country’s unique blending of cuisines and lesser known dishes, that are characteristic of its geographical situation in between Asia and Europe. “I was surprised by the influx of interest and the outpouring of support we received from Bruneians”, Turkish Ambassador Dr. Hamit Ersoy, tells me of the overwhelming reception to the festival’s return post-pandemic.
This week-long event took place at the Radisson Hotel, with the influx of hundreds of reservations every night for their dinner events. Professor Dr. Ersoy worked with the embassy chef, Adem Can, to create a menu that includes his personal favourites like Hunkar Begendi it whose origins date back to as far as the Ottoman Empire. “The selected recipes were mainly inspired by ‘Turkish Cuisine with Timeless Recipes’ which was published under the leadership of Turkey’s First Lady, Emine Erdogan,” he explained. “We tried to make it more unique, more Turkish,” Dr Ersoy said, adding that as a cultural diplomacy tool, food was a wonderful way to initiate conversations.
“Food really has a connecting power and this is an amazing factor in diplomacy. Nothing could be more influential than the food of a culture to push people to work together and to exchange ideas, in my humble opinion.”