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A tribute for three unique people of Istanbul

Madam Anahit (1917-2003)

by Cüneyt AYRAL

(Nice, France - December 1, 2003) Istanbul lost three beautiful and unique people one after another.

I wanted to write after each of these three people, but I changed my mind since I couldn't find any words to say after deaths.

Besides these people's each being a unique "Istanbul figure," their other common characteristic is that they were closely related to the enjoyment of eating-drinking.

The Madame Anahit of Beyoglu Cicek Pasaji used to cheer up tables which were intoxicated by food and alcohol with her HOHNER make accordion and brought even more delight to their delight.

She was photographed many times in the night-life of Cicek Pasaji; she received tips from countless people and she heard many beautiful words.

Once, I learned from Madame Anahit, whom I praised in one of my poems, that HOHNER was a very famous accordion brand.

Celik Gülersoy was one of Istanbul's real gentlemen.

1) Celik Gulersoy
2 ) Tugrul Savkay, with famous Turkish Pop Singer Ajda Pekkan

Just what he had done for the Mansions of Yildiz Park is more than enough for Istanbul. He, on the other hand, had worked without rest for this city and he had been pushed around during the time when Tayyip Erdogan, who is now the Prime Minister, was the Mayor of Istanbul.

I hope that to erect a statue of Celik Gulersoy, who had not spared his support and help in the family of writers of the Journal of Kostantiniyye News in Istanbul, will be granted to Tayyip Erdogan so that he would cover the shames he had done and would find a chance to apologize.

Celik Gulersoy's books which each one of them is his statue and his being one of the first reinterpreters of the cafe culture which is getting more and more spread everyday in Istanbul are among the reasons for him to be remembered constantly.

Turing Automobile Association of Turkey, and his many other services are omitted from this article.

The third loss fell inside of me in flames through an internet news article.

The untimely loss of my dear brother Tugrul Savkay who had left his mark on the eating-drinking culture of Istanbul is something like the loss of the salt shaker in the contemporary culture of Turkish kitchen.

How beautiful were our chats and meals during the years we founded The Kitchen Friends Association.

Should I tell you about Chef Mossiman's dinner party at the old Movenpick Hotel, or about the day Tugrul had encouraged me by saying: "you talked too much, set the table once"?

After his saying so, I had organized the "Czar's table after the hunting party" at the old Ambassador (Bebek) Restaurant and I had taken on the table waiting myself. I had personally served to Tugrul Savkay. Tugrul used to love eating as much as he knew how to cook.

Later, I had invited Ajda Pekkan to a feast of "tasting" of our Wine Friends Association where we were together with him. There, Savkay had told and taught Pekkan the finer points of wine tasting. I had kept the photograph published in a newspaper then; I publish it here even though its quality is mediocre; a memory is a memory after all.

Lacivert, Apetito, Zihni Bar...

I would like to remember these three beautiful people of Istanbul by telling my recent experiences of eating-drinking in Istanbul.

Cuneyt Ayral with chef Huseyin Ceylan and Madam Bihter

Chef Huseyin Ceylan, the young chef in his thirties of the Lacivert Restaurant, with its unbelievable view at the seashore of Anatolian Bank of the Bosphorus, takes the business of cooking quite seriously and he does it very well.

Chef Huseyin Ceylan, who is aware of that cooking is not just about maintaining the right taste, is quite successful at the presentation of the plate too.

Of course the incompetent service of the Lacivert Restaurant does not convey the thrill the chef deserves, but Chef Huseyin is the right address to have "a good dinner" in Istanbul.

Furthermore, while you are eating your meal, having the chef come to your table in his very stylish chef attire and ask your opinions about the meal shows that the western chefs' tradition has arrived in Istanbul too. It feels good to see that another one of dear Tugrul Savkay's desires has come alive.

The growing "grab-eat-run" eating trend which has taken over Istanbul, mostly from the enormous shopping centers, makes our people who love to eat "uncomfortable." For this reason, too, people show an increasing interest in places which offer more sensible and different tastes in these enormous areas.

Among these are the APETITO's which are accomplished by the individual efforts of a young couple.

At the Apetito's, which have two locations at Acibadem Tepe Nautilus Mall and Levent Metro City, you can both grab-eat-run and at the same time take along a taste with you. The successful menus of Banu-Selim Germaner couple create a sensible choice for lunch or meals before or after a movie. The presentation, the service and the appearance of the meals are also as they should be.

One of the "special"sites of Istanbul is, without doubt, ZIHNI BAR.

Zihni had opened its gigantic location in Ortakoy, after serving at Tesvikiye Bronz Street for years with elegance.

While competing against the entertainment life of Ortakoy on one hand, on the other hand Zihni calls out to the palates with its changing menu nowadays. Its "Orient Express" menu really resembles a feast.

When I stopped by there while I was in Istanbul, I asked why their location at the Bronz Street was not open anymore. They told me that the residents of the apartment building were not letting them! Yet, there is now a kebab house next to the location.

It is necessary for the fans of Istanbul to look after the places that have contributed to the city's identity. What happened to the Yildiz Mansions once they were taken from Celik Gulersoy's management?

I think the young mayor of Sisli, who says that he loves Istanbul at every opportunity, should look after this business too. If it's necessary, he should be the one to persuade the residents of the Bronz Apartment Building.

I am not interested in how much money will Zihni make from the Zihni Bar at Bronz Street. I wouldn't even know whether he makes profit or not. Well, I don't think he needs this money that much either; the Ortakoy location is good enough.

But, Zihni Bar, just like the Park Samdan, and five o'clock teas at the Hilton Hotel, and the restaurant of the Divan Hotel and many other examples from Istanbul, is one of the sites that should be kept alive.

When you're reading this piece, or right after you've read it, listen to a sweet Istanbul song, then will these three beautiful people of Istanbul rest in peace where they lie...

_ . _

Translated by Figen Bingül from Turkish for the Light Millennium.

E-mail: ayral@ayral.com
Web site: http://www.ayral.com

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