Review: Tulsa Turkish Art and Food Festival holds 10th anniversary event

On November 9th, Raindrop Turkish House and Cultural Center hosted its tenth annual Turkish Food & Art Festival. The event was open to the public and free of charge.

In order to keep the event organized for vendors local patrons were able to purchases tickets to use as currency for food and art. Some vendors did take cash or card, but most utilized the ticket method.

At the main entrance, where the tickets could be purchased, there was a lovely display of handmade goods for sale including; jewelry, watches, paintings, customized calligraphy signs, stained-glass lamps, and an area for henna art. The banquet room was very popular as it held the festival’s food.

The banquet room was plentiful and had dishes being created from a back kitchen and a small culinary area in the room itself. Patron watched in wonder as a group of women handmade yufka bread right in front of their eyes to serve them.

Several Turkish women knead and prepare a traditional yufka flatbread.

Some of the other traditional dishes served at the festival were shawarma, pilaf, dolmades, and fresh Turkish salad. There was a vast amount of deliciously gorgeous desserts present as well.

It was the very first time I had the pleasure of trying spinach cake, sesame cookies, rice pudding, baklava, or sekerpare – and my palate thanked me. All of the food was authentic, homemade, and incredibly delicious.

Dozens of patrons raved about the many dishes and desserts they were given the privilege to try. After my tour of tastes in the banquet room I had been directed towards a room across near the main entryway where calligraphy and ebru artists created their art for patrons.

For those who haven’t heard of ebru before, another term for this artform is water marbling. Artist, Kanuni Yilmaz, was quite excited to talk to me what ebru is, and the process, the history, and the traditional tools used to create ebru artwork.

Water marbling artist Kanuni Yilmaz is preparing his water for another colorful ebru creation.

As we talked about how he began crafting ebru paintings he intrigued both younger and older patrons with his technique. Ebru is an ancient art created through the use of water and dyes to make patterns.

Some common patterns seen on ebru paintings are nonpareil, bouquet and stormont. Setting up an art space for ebru is a bit more time consuming than the creation of the paintings are.

Plain water isn’t the right thickness for the marbling process and the paints often used are thicker than necessary, so each must be modified. To get water at the right consistency for marbling, lambda carrageenan powder is added to the pan.

In order to thin the paints Ox Gall is added to the paint. If the paint is too thick, it will not marble.

However, too much Ox Gall can ruin your paint as well. Ox Gall is exactly what it sounds like, gallbladder fluid extracted from either ox or cow and boiled several times to create the liquid needed for marbling.

When Ox Gall is prepared for the water mixture it is the cholesterol, lecithin, taurocholic acid, and glycocholic acid that allow for the change in consistency. Water marbling also uses special brushes to add paint to the water mixture that are traditionally made from rose stems and horse hair and a stylus to move the paint through the mixture.

Before paper put onto the water alum must be sponged onto the paper so that it retains pigment better. The turn out of the Tulsa Turkish Food & Art Festival seemed to be larger than expected.

As the day progressed many more chairs were added to the patio and banquet room for patrons to relax and enjoy the rich experiences the festival had to offer.