Chatalpinar – Yasin Sen – Corn and corn bread culture in Turkey

In primary school, students are divided into two groups, morning and afternoon. We would go to school at noon and come back in the evening. Especially in winter, when we leave, it is getting dark. We climbed into the darkness and slowly made our way home.

There was a time when there was no money at home and we would go to school without pocket money. At that time, my mother would give me some eggs, sell them to Ali Abir, the grocer next to the school, and give me something to eat in return. Sometimes there were no eggs, instead my mother would give me baked village bread or corn bread. That would be my diet, which I secretly ate in class that day. I say secretly because I would be very annoyed and embarrassed to take things out of the house and eat them. Childhood is …

I think I’m in my second year of elementary school. Even then I would go to school without pocket money. Moreover, there were no eggs in the house. My mother gave me some of the bread she baked this time. I remember that day, during the break, I ate a little bit of bread. I didn’t take the last bite and didn’t put it in my bag when I got hungry after school. On the way home in the dark in the evening, I felt hungry for a while. I thought of that last slice of bread. I opened my bag, took the bite out of the bag and ate it happily. How delicious was the bite of that bread! Since then, I haven’t tasted that in any food. What was in it? Who knows, maybe there was love, maybe there was abundance, or there was a divine taste that could be manifested in the life of every innocent human being. Otherwise, it is no wonder that cornbread is so delicious when mixed with the sincerity of the soil and motherly love!

Sometimes when we went out to play we would have a piece of bread to fill our stomachs. When we were busy eating, our eyes would fly away in the heat of the game. (Of course, it would be a shame if we didn’t offer our friends what we had! Because there was something called eye rights). Then we would kiss the pieces of bread lying on the ground and place them on a high place saying ‘Bismillah’. Because bread was a cherished resource. Bread was a great right over us. This right should have been strictly observed. It was also a necessity for raising children. The pieces of bread that were removed from the ground and kept elsewhere will also be shared by wolves and birds.

Bread was also made from corn when corn fields surrounded the house. The flour (touched by the villagers) brought from the mill was cooked in the granary in the morning and evening and eaten hot. Truly, these breads were delicious. I won’t be able to get enough of it, especially in the winter. Occasionally green onions are also added. These were called “leak bread”.

When I was a child, workers from Tokat would bring tractors decorated with blue and beads and plow the corn fields. At that time the smell of soil could be heard more in the village. This smell calls the nose. These workers and their tractors will have a size and a world of their own. When the corn fields disappeared, so did they. On my way to Tokat-Erba for the wedding of my friend Fatih Yassersin in the summer of 2016, I met these tractors. The old condition of the village came back to life in my eyes.

Of course, when corn fields disappear, corn occupies very little space in our lives. I was afraid to cross the huge, huge corn. Now there is hazelnut orchard instead of maize field.

Egypt had its own word. The Egyptian red was called “Bay”. Some people will gather and separate the corn from their stalks. Finding red corn became an enjoyable game, and the person who found it was given the nickname “Bay”, with a portion of it. This will continue until another red, aka “Master Corn” is found. There were other varieties like white corn and red corn.

If corn had a bifurcated edge, twin or triple, they would be called “abundance.” These were hung high in the house. Sometimes they were hung on corn kernels, also called serendipity. There was also a tool called “Corn Nail”. My grandmother used to use it a lot while cutting corn. This corn nail was used to separate the corn from its stems.

The corn was called “maize” in the village, and the corn field was called “miserlik.” Corn powder was also very important for the farmer. It was called “skirt”, distorted from the baseboard. The broom was made from these thorns. There were those who saw this work as a means of livelihood. The late Chacha Sarwar was one of those who did this in the village. Uncle Maraso from Köfron Kemâl Emmi and Kil Village is one of the masters of broom making.

In the village, Egypt was also called Dudhdari. Corn with milk should be taken from the stems immediately and eaten happily. When the corn is dry, it is cut into “half waist” with a sickle. The lower part of this body, which remains in the field, was called “Kevuk”. The upper part of the body was called ‘Alaf’. A “deck” was made up of about fifteen or twenty alafs. Decks were also called “binding”. These were given to animals in winter. Sometimes it was laid under the animals.

Corn flakes were brought in bundles to the front of the house, and especially the elderly used to separate the corn and dried corn from the stalks of alfalfa. These were also tied to a small maize variety, which we call “Elajit”, as a nakal. If there is no light, they will be connected to the wire. Right next to the house or in the field, these were very systematically and carefully piled up in groups, like tents or tents. It was called ‘Kugul’. These dungs ​​were then piled up in the form of tents and called tömentü. If this mason had been enlarged, this time it would have been called “Hobek”. Sometimes there were several of these mounds in the field. There will be some people who were blabbering on. Köfron Kemâl Emmi, Uncle Şükrü is one of the rare people in the village who can play the whistle. We used to play hide and seek under this mound. These were warm places in the village in cold weather for animals like dogs and cats in winter. Here the animals could sleep peacefully.

After the corns were removed from their hulls, they were stuffed into “dartams”. There is a connection between the word “dartami” and corn … in the village it is also called “corn”. The word Dartami comes from “Millet Tamarin”. Similarly, it was a corn warehouse. Sometimes corn was crushed to give to the chickens. The rest we would cut. In winter they were used to light stoves. Popcorn is called ‘popcorn’. For this a separate place has been planted in the field. In winter, these popcorn are served to guests.

Over time, hazelnut seedlings began to be planted in corn fields. Corn orchards are getting smaller with the growth of hazelnuts. As a result, most of these fields have disappeared. Now they are in the middle of memory.

One of my recollections of the corn field is as follows: Inspired by my Turkish teacher Celelatin Fuat Gureldi in high school, we read the story of Kemalatin Tuku. I really enjoyed them because I read Tukku stories and children’s novels together. It was not meant to be read. I would have survived those stories. For example, I befriended a Haji Baba, somewhat heartbroken, contented and at the same time lived a sincere life with him, sometimes as a child I ran without thinking about the countryside, hills or mountains and I enjoyed surviving. I was completely immersed in these stories in my own way. A romantic reality surrounds my whole world.

Who knows what Tughku tells the story of an orphan boy and an uncultivated field inherited year after year. When the protagonist grows up and reaches a certain age, he starts cultivating the fields inherited from his family. The crop was very productive as the land was not cultivated year after year. Even the villagers said, “Should we rest in our fields like this?” He was saying something like that, in fact, that thought also entered my head. We too could rest in our corn fields so that we could get a good harvest from the fields. I should have brought the matter to my mother or father. In fact, such an idea as a diamond should not be missed. I was 100% sure that your opinion would be considered. I brought the matter to my mother: “Mother, shall we rest in our fields also?”

The answer I got meant a lot to me, because my fresh mind realized that the reality was completely different: “What is his job? Give him a rest! ”

My mother is right; What was our field work! It receives part of the annual rainfall from the generous climate of the Black Sea. It was plowed, seeds were sprinkled on its chest, and care was taken. My mother just said, “What’s her job?”

The corn field was a very important place in the old social life of the village. Just saying that bread has been made with cornmeal for a long time is enough to explain its meaning. Sometimes I hear memories from villagers expressing the importance of corn in our old social life. One of them is as follows: We were collecting hazelnuts at Uncle Mengil’s place in Abjadagi. Mahmut Abi was shouting “fourteen, fourteen” and wailing abjectly. In fact, that season was always like that. Anyway! It took a while. Workers collecting nuts in the upper garden are moving to another place after finishing the field. At that time one of the workers said to Abi Mahmut, brother you are shouting fourteen fourteen, what does that mean? He asked. Mahmut Abi said, “Give me a pack of cigarettes and I’ll tell you!” The man replied, “I quit smoking.” When Mahmut Abi said, I can’t say. Says the man’s question made me curious. When the man left, he said, Mahmut Abi, what are these fourteen conversations? I said. Mahmut Abi says: “In the past, when digging grass, this work was done in a certain order (the work done before planting something in the field is called). Some lived in hiding. Those who were ahead said to those who were behind, “Fourteen fourteen / cover the place you did not dig”. So that would mean moving forward. “

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