Levon Bağış


"Geography is destiny"

Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb was found centuries after his death. In the tomb, 36 wine amphorae were found along with tens of valuable belongings. Though Howard Carter, who plundered the tomb, didn't pay much attention, maybe the oldest labeled wine in world was revealed there. The label on the amphora read: “Sweet wine of the House-of-Aton -Life, Prosperity, Health!- of the Western River. Chief vintner Aperershop.” 

As you might have noticed, on the label, there is another information in addition the producer and  flavor: the origin of the wine. From the Western River... So, it can be said that, as early as 1300 B.C., wine-enthusiasts knew that the plants growing in certain places are more tasty. 

What else could we expect from the ones who built the civilization that we live in? Just like us, they also knew that the grapes from which we produce wine, the eggplants and potatoes that we use in our foods and the fruits we eat bring their soil and climate to us along with their tastes. 

Today, the foods that we mention with their origin prove exactly this. The peculiarities of a region where a plant grows also make the food that we cook with it peculiar. 

Many factors like the location of vineyard, i.e. its altitude, water bodies (sea, lake, river etc.) near it, minerals in the soil are the main elements that determine the quality of wine. These factors differ more than you can guess and result in bad or good surprises. Legendary Chateau Petrus wines has a vineyard that is only enough for producing 30.000 bottles in a year. Right across, there is another vineyard. Though the grapes and the producer are the same, the wine that is produced out of the grapes of that vineyard are more modest. This shows that the soil is more important than the mastery of the producer. 

Soil is what makes us as we are. It determines what we eat and drink and defines our souls. And that soil sometimes overflows with sufferings. 

Diyarbakir grapes may be the best grapes in Turkey. Even Heredotus mentioned Diyarbakir grapes called “Boğazkere”. He tells that it is exported to as far as Babylon. 

Nadin added plenty of spices in the food that we ate last night. I bought those spices from Kör Yusuf, who is the best spice-seller in Diyarbakir. His shop serves for 140 years. It is one of those shops that you go for having a conversation rather than shopping. While we were eating, some people on TV were discussing how many people died in Cizre.  In fact, they say that people in Cizre are “rendered ineffective”.

I don't know whether the shop of Kör Yusuf still stands. I don't know whether Sülüklü Inn, where white cheese and wine is served, still stand. If the buildings stand, I don't know whether people living in those buildings alive. If they are alive, I don't know what will happen to them. The only thing I know is the utter darkness that befell on me like night. We live in a land where talking about foods and drinks and life is a shame.

Ibn Khaldun said, “Geography is destiny.” Our destiny hasn't changed for 100 years.