There is nothing I enjoy more than getting to spend time with my children one on one. My second daughter seems to understand me more than the other two and she is a delightful dinner date.
We have a Mediterranean restaurant in town that has gotten very good reviews, so I thought I would surprise her with a trip there on our weekly night out. She (my daughter) has always been game when it comes to trying new food and has a talent for determining the ingredients used in various dishes. We often request the chef to come to our table and confirm her thoughts.
The restaurant we went to was called “Nazar.” I had no idea what it meant or what to expect with Mediterranean food, but I thought we would have a good time. The restaurant is in what once had to be a residential house in an area of town away from the chain restaurants and tourist traps.
When we arrived, we noticed there weren’t many cars in the parking lot, but we didn’t think much about it. After getting inside, we realized that there was only one couple eating, still we didn’t have a problem with this.
We did notice that there were a lot of “eyes” looking at us. At this time, remember I had no idea what a Nazar was or what it meant, I only knew that this restaurant had a lot of these blue eyes on the walls and they were all looking at us.
Our host and waiter was the same fellow – Cole. He was incredibly nice and knew the menu well. It is usually my choice to let the waiter choose what I eat; it’s just what I do. I liked Cole right off the bat, because he didn’t even wait for me to ask him to choose for me.
Cole recommended that we get the combination platter to share and the “eggplant with sauce” as an appetizer. He went on to advise us to get the appetizer with the meal so we could dip our pita bread from the combination platter in our eggplant sauce.
He was dead on with his recommendation, the meal was phenomenal. The combination platter included lamb shish (kabobs), chicken shish, Turkish meatballs, vegetables, rice, pita and a salad which he let us split.
My daughter and I were having such a wonderful time that we did not want to leave. So we didn’t.
We decided to get an order of baklava and a Turkish coffee apiece. As we sat enjoying our dessert and coffee, we discussed the eyes around us and the name “Nazar.”We decided to ask Cole.
Our first question to him was about the “eyes” and of course his answer was that they were “Nazars,” which also answered our second question.
Cole went on to explain that these Nazar amulets protect against the “evil eye” and they are seen everywhere in Turkey. Turkish people use them on jewelry and hang them in and on their houses, offices and cars to ward off evil.
Through further research, I found out that Turkish folks like to pin Nazars on their babies clothing also to guard against bad things.
“Nazars should be mainly blue and look like an eye. “
Cole went on to tell us that he had given some of these Nazars to a lady who was having ghost troubles out in a rural area and that they worked! I’m not a “ghost person,” but I do think if someone thinks something works, it usually does.
This reminded me of the episode from "The Andy Griffith Show" where an older lady, Emma Watson can’t live without her pills. The pills were just sugar pills, or a placebo. However Emma thought they made her feel better – so they did.
Now that I understood about the Nazar and the ties to Turkey and Mediterranean cuisine, I decided to do a little more research.
Back in the late 1990’s, I owned a little weekly newspaper in Huntsville, Alabama. As a gimmick, I had a contest every week where I gave away 1,000,000 Turkish lira. Readers would send their entries in weekly to a trivia contest and I would randomly draw a name from the correct responses.
Every few months, I would go to the bank and order about 20 million Turkish lira at a time and for just a few dollars I would get the foreign currency back in less than a week. I just thought it was fun to give away a million of anything. The Turkish currency came in 1,000,000 bills so it made it even more fun (and easier on me).
In doing my research on Turkey, I decided to find out what the exchange rate for the Turkish lira was now, compared to the US dollar.
I got sick. I got the kind of sick you would get when someone duct-taped your hands behind you and made you watch as they flushed your 50 million dollar lottery ticket down the toilet. The first thing that popped up was...
1 Turkish lira = 0.5677 US dollars
I quickly figured with the present exchange rate that I was giving away over a half million US dollars a week.
Had the Turkish lira gone up that much?
Had the US dollar gone down that much?
This could not be right.
I researched back a few more years and got sicker. It seemed that about four years ago the Turkish lira and US dollar were exchanging almost one to one.
I don’t keep up with such things, but there had to be an explanation.
There was an explanation and my multi-millionaire generosity was short lived.
I have to admit that I was very relieved. It seems that in 2005, they came up with a “New Turkish Lira,” where they “dropped” six zeroes.
It made me feel better to know that I had still been giving away less than a dollar when I was giving away all that Turkish cash.
I’m definitely going to get one of those Nazars to protect me.
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I'm BN Heard and I like semicolons, dogs and working Jumble puzzles with my daughter.