East Meets West

Saturday, January 13, 2007


A couple weeks ago we celebrated Eid Al Adha – the Feast of the Sacrifice in Turkey. Turks practice many pagan rituals that have been adapted to Islam and/or modern Turkish culture, and the sacrifice is one example.

Apart from this holiday, folks sacrifice animals throughout the year to celebrate, give thanks and to bring good luck. When the last of a troublesome model of planes was sent back to the UK by Turkish Airlines, some of the workers celebrated by sacrificing a camel
at the airport. A friend of mine refused to sacrifice an animal when they bought a new vehicle for their business and the van had several accidents and incidents throughout the year.

This year Mahmut and his family sacrificed a sheep. A prayer is said to the animal, the butcher makes a quick slit to the throat, the animal is carved up and some of the meat goes to the family and the rest to the poor.

I love my meat – be it a nice steak, some lamb chops or a sizzling shish kebab. I also don’t get queasy easily. But when they brought back the meat and Mahmut’s 10 year old nephew called out ‘it’s still warm!’ I had to leave the room. I didn’t want to be the sissy foreigner, so I popped my head into the kitchen from time to time while they were carving the meat into more manageable pieces. I was able to tolerate the concept more, until Mahmut’s Mom called me over to show me something ‘Look at this! The vein is still throbbing!’. They finally had to leave the meat on the balcony to cool down because, as I learned that day, warm meat is more difficult to cut than cold meat.

Needless to say, I didn’t take any lamb home with me, and it was a few days before I could stomach a piece of meat. I will still have my steak any day – just don’t remind me where it came from!

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