Hrant Dink Foundation Manti Festival was colorful as Turkey's multicultural cuisine

Hrant Dink Foundation Manti Festival was colorful as Turkey's multicultural cuisine
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Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts’ Manti Festival, organized in collaboration with the Hrant Dink Foundation and 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory, was as colorful as Turkey's cuisine.

We are in the Anarad Higutyun Building, where the Hrant Dink Foundation is located. On the ground floor, pedestrians are busy preparing dough for manti. Young people put their fillings in, and tiny fingers close them.

Manti may indeed be the most collective dish to prepare and eat. One would not think of making manti alone, and nobody would crave them when they are alone…

The manti table should always be crowded, and the water should boil in a large pot. There will not be leftovers if possible, and its taste will linger in memory.

During my childgood, manti, which is now troublesome to prepare and even expensive to eat out, was made when there was not much at home. That is because, in fact, the ingredients are common and it takes few ingredients to make.

Image caption: Grannies are preparing manti.

Flour, water, whatever you crave for the stuffing, but usually salt, pepper, and minced meat with grated and squeezed onions, yogurt with garlic, tomato paste, and olive oil. That is all. I do not think it is necessary, but of course, dried mint and sumac can also be added if desired.

Thus, everything was collective at the Manti Festival, which was held as part of the Dumpling Post project, which is conceived with the collaboration of the Istanbul Biennial, Hrant Dink Foundation, and 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory and published within the scope of the 17th Istanbul Biennial organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV).

The manti prepared on the first floor was served on the terrace. Those who were hugging and chatting during the manti line were telling each other about the manti they ate at their grandmother's house on the weekends during their childhoods.

Some were putting in more yogurt and less tomato sauce, and some put in less yogurt and got more of the tomato sauce. In addition to boiled manti, there were also crispy manti, vegan and vegetarian manti with potato and cheese fillings, and even vegan yogurt.

Just like the coexistence of different people…


Within the scope of the festival, a panel on “food and multiculturalism” was also held under the moderation of Ayse Gul Altinay. Sasa Aslanoglu, Lian Penso Benbasat, Ozge Samanci, Takuhi Tovmasyan, and Aylin Yazicioglu each told their “manti stories” at the panel. They searched for the answer to the question of why we know “pain au chocolat” but not “borekitas…”

Then, the songs that KoroBiz sang in different languages of Anatolia were heard.

The Manti Festival is becoming a tradition as a continuation of the "Kayseri Manti Festival" organized by the Hrant Dink Foundation in Istanbul on Oct. 26, 2019, as a space of resistance and solidarity against prohibitions.

In 2019, Beyoglu Municipality did not allow the Kayseri Manti Festival to be held because it was deemed “objectionable,” and the Hrant Dink Foundation opened a space for the festival, saying: “manti is not objectionable.”

Image caption: One could not decide whether the manti or chatting together was more enjoyable…

At one point, I went out to the courtyard on the second floor of this old school building and sat under a pomegranate tree; its branches were full of ripe fruit. The two old women next to me were making up for lost time and at the same time telling each other why their manti recipes were better.

I unintentionally overheard their conversation.

And I wrote down the logical recipes from both of their descriptions.

But most of all, after all the sweet quarrels, I heard them say "I love your manti more anyway," which got etched in my memory.

If we are going to quarrel, let us quarrel about the details in the recipes that reflect the rich culinary culture of Anatolian geography, Then let us kiss and laugh, accompanied by manti with lots of sauce and generous compliments.