It’s Wednesday night and I’m starting to write this article about an amazing Turkish restaurant I’ve discovered last week. When I type in the name of the place, I am suddenly reminded. I am reminded that, in the light of recent events, “peace” sounds like mockery – once again. I wonder if I should postpone the article, if it would be more decent not to mention Istanbul and peace in one sentence today, when yesterday, people were killed there. Then again, I am convinced that the owners of the Turkish restaurant in Hamburg did not call their place ‘Peacetanbul’ just because it sounded funny to them. I believe that, especially in days where terror threatens to become more powerful, we should stick together and remind ourselves that terror is not, and never will be, the same as nation or religion. And wouldn’t the world be a much better place, if more people sat together at one table?
When my colleagues ask me whether I want to join them for lunch at a Turkish place, for “really cheap burgers and probably the best chips in town”, I am genuinely expecting a kebab takeaway that also sells fat-dripping burgers and overseasoned chips. Sadly, that’s what most “Turkish” places are like in Germany: They’re the run-down door you open late at night, or the red plastic chair you guiltily slump into the next day, when your hangover renders you incapable even of defrosting ready-made pizza.
Of course I knew before, that kebab is not Turkish cuisine. That would be like saying German food culture consists of Bratwurst – or, worse, “German bratwurst” sold in England (sorry). I very well remember the disgusted face of my colleague from Istanbul, the first time he got back from lunch at a classic German-Turkish kebab stand. He was outraged. I instinctively believed him, retelling that funny story whenever someone mentioned Turkey and kebab. But secretly, emotionally, I kept connecting the two things. As always: People are prejudiced until proven otherwise.
So, on that historic Tuesday around 1 P.M., I am thoroughly shocked when we enter Peacetanbul and it actually is a Turkish restaurant! And it has absolutely nothing to do with the ordinary kebab place. We sit down at a big table – my bench is partly pink and has some glitter, I’d like to mention. Peacetanbul is a gem in St. Pauli’s Karoviertel – that much becomes obvious when you enter the place. The walls are colourful mosaics, and the peace sign is everywhere. The waitress is a sweet and attentive Turkish lady. And look at that menu! The gargantuan burgers are actually around 5 euros at lunchtime, and there are various vegetarian and even one vegan option. It’s hard to pick, but when I take the first bite of bulgur at my first real Turkish restaurant in Hamburg, I know I needn’t have thought about it for so long: I’ll come and eat the whole menu over the next year, anyway.
Have you ever been to a proper Turkish restaurant?