If I didn’t actually believe in my responsibility to tell Americans the truth about Turkey, nevertheless I did feel it was somehow wasteful to study Russian literature instead of Turkish literature. I had repeatedly been told in linguistics classes that all languages were universally complex, to a biologically determined degree. Didn’t that mean that all languages were, objectively speaking, equally interesting? And I already knew Turkish; it had happened without any work, like a gift, and here I was tossing it away to break my head on a bunch of declensions that came effortlessly to anyone who happened to grow up in Russia.
Today, this strikes me as terrible reasoning. I now understand that love is a rare and valuable thing, and you don’t get to choose its object. You just go around getting hung up on the all the least convenient things—and if the only obstacle in your way is a little extra work, then that’s the wonderful gift right there.
20. Best place to buy: Olive oil
Turkish embassy electrical supplies, London
The most unlikely olive oil vendor in the world? At his electrical supply shop in London’s Clerkenwell, Mehmet Murat sells wonderful, intensely fruity oil from his family’s olive groves in Cyprus and south-west Turkey. Now he imports more than a 1,000 litres per year. His lemon-flavoured oil is good enough to drink on its own.
76 Compton Street, London EC1, 020 7251 4721,www.planet mem.com
26. Best place to eat: Filipino cuisine
Lighthouse Restaurant, Cebu, Philippines
“The Lighthouse in Cebu in the Philippines is my favourite restaurant. We always eat bulalo (beef stew), banana heart salad, adobo (marinaded meat), baked oysters, pancit noodles, lechon de leche (suckling pig) and, to drink, green mango juice – my daughter is addicted to it! The staff are so friendly and welcoming. The chef has been there for more than 20 years, so the food is very consistent.”
Gaisano Country Mall, Banilad, Cebu city, Philippines, 0063 32 231 2478
At the heart of my library is my father’s library. When I was seventeen or eighteen and began to devote most of my time to reading, I devoured the volumes my father kept in our sitting room as well as the ones I found in Istanbul’s bookshops. These were the days when, if I read a book from my father’s library and liked it, I would take it into my room and place it among my own books. My father, who was pleased to see his son reading, was also glad to see some of his books migrating to my library, and whenever he saw one of his old books on my bookshelf, he would tease me by saying, “Aha, I see this volume has been promoted to the upper echelons!”
To Schmidt and others, these new findings suggest a novel theory of civilization. Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.
The immensity of the undertaking at Gobekli Tepe reinforces that view. Schmidt says the monuments could not have been built by ragged bands of hunter-gatherers. To carve, erect and bury rings of seven-ton stone pillars would have required hundreds of workers, all needing to be fed and housed. Hence the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago. “This shows sociocultural changes come first, agriculture comes later,” says Stanford University archaeologist Ian Hodder, who excavated Catalhoyuk, a prehistoric settlement 300 miles from Gobekli Tepe. “You can make a good case this area is the real origin of complex Neolithic societies.”