• The Spiritual Dimension of Food in Evliya Çelebi
  • The Spiritual Dimension of Food in Evliya Çelebi
  • The Spiritual Dimension of Food in Evliya Çelebi
  • The Spiritual Dimension of Food in Evliya Çelebi
  • The Spiritual Dimension of Food in Evliya Çelebi

Apart from the private life of people, there are also spiritual food traditions in the social sphere. Subjects such as fasting in the religious sphere, sacrificing, avoiding haram drinks and food, distributing food to the needy in order to gain rewards, and having..

Can Enters Through the Bosphorus: The Spiritual Dimension of Food in Evliya Çelebi
Priscilla Mary BEAM
The importance of the animals they hunt, the plants they collect and plant, and the water, beer and wine they drink, not only for their nutritional value and taste, but also for the spiritual meanings given to them began thousands of years ago. Countless examples such as animal pictures drawn on cave walls thirty thousand years ago, cooking pots placed in the tombs of ancient Egyptians, reliefs showing Hittite kings with wheat ears and clusters of grapes reflect this spiritual dimension of food.
For the Ottomans, the spiritual aspect of the food was as important as its taste and nutritional value. Food played various symbolic roles within the framework of human relations, stages of human life such as birth and marriage, celebrations and religious beliefs. As many foodstuffs such as water, bread, wheat, salt, and halva had spiritual meanings, feasting and serving were not only meant to satisfy the guests, but also to show respect, express loyalty, and celebrate important events. 
Apart from the private life of people, there are also spiritual food traditions in the social sphere. Subjects such as fasting in the religious sphere, sacrificing, avoiding haram drinks and food, distributing food to the needy in order to gain rewards, and having roads and fountains built in settlements for charity can be counted. Evliya Çelebi's Travelogue is a valuable resource on this subject. In addition to giving information about his own time, Evliya conveys many old beliefs, rumors and stories about the spiritual dimension of food.
Symbolic Meanings in Food
Beliefs about soil fertility developed with the start of wheat cultivation in the Mesopotamian region covering southeast Anatolia during the Neolithic Period. Traditions based on the abundance and fertility of cereal grains, especially wheat, have survived to the present day.
Evliya Çelebi, at the tradesmen's parade in 1638, the wheat and barley freight forwarders said, "Blessings from you, Mevla, from you the loot, O Allah." (1/237) Similarly, the farmers threw wheat to the crowd and said, "It is not my hand, Adam is the hand of the ancestor, O Lord, give me blessings." and "Bread is from me, blessings are from you, give it, my God." (1 159a) Bread also had holiness as the product of God's grace, the product of earthly fertility, and the pillar of life.
Wheat soup made from tattoos became known as "ashura" by establishing a connection with the tenth day of Muharram (Evliya Çelebi regards it as the twelfth day in several places), which has been considered sacred since pre-Islamic times. (Hançerlioğlu, 28) Muslims continued the tradition of making ashura based on various reasons.While the Shiites were making ashura for Hüseyin, who was killed that day in Karbala, the Sunnis tradition of making ashura, the acceptance of Adam's repentance, Abraham's salvation from the fire, They continued by associating events such as Yakub's meeting with his son Yusuf and Noah's ship sitting on Mount Judi (Islamic Encyclopedia 1991, 26; Hançerlioğlu, 28; Sertoğlu, 21-22).
Evliya Çelebi tells that when Çelebi Abdurrahman Pasha was the governor of Egypt, he had ten cauldrons cooked in memory of Imam Hussein every year in Muharram and set up a foundation for distribution to the poor:
"Every year from Haremeyn-i Muhteremeyn, on Mah-i Muharrem, ten goose ashura is cooked and the poor don't be clothed, and six thousand pieces of his own property are prepared, and two batmans are paid, a weigher şem-i asel and a weighbridge sükker-i mükerrer. and the twelfth day of mah-i-asura by doing zeyt-i khar foundation for kanadils and being the mawlud-i Imam Hussein made it a success.” (4/17)'
Again in Madinah, we learn that pilgrims from Damascus cook ashura and distribute it to the poor: "When Huccac-i Damascus comes, forty-fifty thousand people become cem, and a thousand gozgan asura is cooked, and even the people of Medina themselves turn into avarice." (9/336) The reason for this was that the Prophet Muhammad came to this neighborhood every year to visit Hamza and cook ashura.
He conveys the importance of Ashura in the story about Noah's Ark: "When Hazrat Noah Necî decided with his discovery over Cebel-i Cude in the Flood and died, the entire nation of Noah got out of the ship to the countryside, faced the right anber-i pake and prostrated. "To express gratitude, they put whatever they could find in a goose, cook it and eat it. Who still says 'ashura aşi', whoever finds death on the tenth day of Nuh Neci mah-ı Muharrem'l-haram, "evm-i asura is." (4/45).
Evliya tells an interesting old story about Adam and Eve from the Islamic world. Accordingly, the forbidden plant in heaven was wheat, and the first meal Adam and Eve cooked when they were expelled from paradise was wheat soup (1/230). On the day of Ashura, the twelfth day of Muharram, they get hungry and Jibril teaches them to bring wheat and cook it:
"When Eve and Adam interviewed each other in this Arafat, when they met in the twelfth day of Mah-i Muharram,
their stomachs were hungry. In this valley they wandered vagrants. Immediately, Jibril-i Emin brought a plate of wheat chrysanthemums by Almighty God, and they were cured in this mosque, and they taught Adam and Eve.” (9/356).
The interpretation of the forbidden "tree" in the Qur'an (and the "forbidden fruit" of the Bible) as wheat is much more meaningful than other possibilities such as figs and apples. Because when people were a hunter-gatherer society, they started agriculture by planting wheat is the most important turning point in human history. This brought a completely different lifestyle and led to a completely different world of belief. 
The life of Eve and Adam in the congregation represents Cultural History of Food the pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer people's lives being content with the blessings of God, while the new era after their expulsion from heaven represents the life of people who are engaged in agriculture and whose main meal is wheat soup.
Wheat soup is an important sacred dish. In the Cavliyya Mosque in Muradiyya near Jerusalem, seven thousand wheat soups, as well as rice, stew and zerk, were cooked in seven cauldrons every day for the poor and passers-by (9/256). Evliya, who takes this soup, says that it is very delicious: "I bought a field of wheat soup. Huda is a scholar, I did not observe that flavor in the whole of a vizerâm and a ulema." 
Wheat soup was called "father soup" in honor of Adam Baba and was considered the most important food to be served. Evliya said, "Still, if someone invites a man to his house, 'Let's eat Aş Baba soup." says. "She doesn't say let's eat pudding or sweet palude." says (1/230) Baba soup is a dish served in soup kitchens, lodges, etc. For example, in the Bektashi lodge on Mount Erba, guests are served baba soup and bread (9/95).
Bread and salt are considered two basic elements of nutrition. Bread represents all foods that are satiating, while salt represents the flavors imparted to the food. As Evliya said, "Bread cannot be without salt." (1/230) A person who gives salt to another person (ie the opportunity to eat or make a living) deserves respect and devotion in return. Various examples of this idea, which is expressed as "the right to bread salt" - mostly in the form of nân u nemek in Persian- are mentioned in the Seyahatname. is found. Observing the right to salt bread is among the advice his father gave to Evliya Çelebi:
"Son, a man will become poor. Do not eat well without Basmala. If you have something to say to your private parts, don't say it to your private parts. Don't be a junub and eat. Don't put your clothes on the ragged one. Don't be a good name. Don't make a mockery, don't tread the field, don't fall for your wounds. Don't reach out to the place where you don't know. Don't listen when two people are talking, don't listen to your right to remember, don't betray your privacy. There is rape. Be intimate, memorize the words you use in every assembly. Don't talk from house to house, don't talk about zemm ü nemm ü backbiting u be free from the heavens. being. 
Do not go before the great ones, obey the elders” (2/241a-b).
After Melek Ahmet Pasha took the Bitlis Castle, during the debate about whether to execute the castle's foreman, Kara Ali Ağa, the pasha accuses Kara Ali Ağa, who had seen his well-being twenty years ago, of cowardice. Kara Ali Ağa tells that as the man of the Bitlis Inn, he continued to defend the castle for his right to bread salt, but when the inn escaped, Melek Ahmet Pasha stopped defending the right to bread salt twenty years ago, and the pasha then forgives him (4/147).
When Evliya Çelebi met Emir Hasan Ağa's daughter, Saime, who was kidnapped years ago, by chance in Kolorya, Evliya Çelebi used the word "salt and bread" when reminding that Evliya was a guest at his father's house when he did not recognize the girl:
"Am I not Sa'ime, the daughter of Emir Hasan Ağa, my bardman of Bardunya? Do you not know how long my father ate salt bread when you came to our house with your servants, now I have been a prisoner of this for seven years." Evliya, who feels sorry for the girl, wants to take her to her parents, but she refuses this offer because she is married to the Christian captain and has a son (8/337).
Sacred meanings are also attributed to fragrant substances. Musk is mentioned in the 25th and 26th verses of the Qur'an's Mutaffifin Surah (Qur'an and its Turkish Meaning, 587): "They drink from a closed, pure beverage that leaves the smell of musk at the end." In the Seyahatname, Kanuni Süleyman tells us to build a musky bridge over the İnnak in Gökova:
"And a river flows in this place. Suleiman Khan set up a cetrin [shade] at the moment, dissolving tahte'l-coffee, nuking it and saying 'Amber water' and saying, 'Let them make a hardy cisir on this Ayn-ı amber'. When he orders, two eyes and a cisir are built in the place, they put musk on its foundation, they call it a Müşklü bridge.” (9/119).
Serving Food or Food
Serving food to others is done on a wide variety of occasions. Various examples such as earning rewards by helping the poor and passengers, showing hospitality to guests, celebrating special days or victories, and establishing good relations can be found in the Seyahatname.
In the soup kitchen in Thessaloniki, a bowl of soup and a loaf of bread for each poor and rich (8/73); Kasr-ı Ayn Bektashi lodge in Egypt, white bread, herise and rice (10/136-7); Kaygısız Baba Bektashi lodge, mutton and rice with yoghurt (10/114a); We learn that Sultan Kalavân Imaret, lentil and wheat soup for the poor, and meat on Friday evenings (10/117a). In Egypt, a cup of Yemeni coffee was offered to passers-by instead of a meal in the Sheikh Ferecullâh lodge belonging to the Yemenis (10/138).
It is seen that meals are prepared for many people in Kağıthane Lodge. There were seventy stoves in his kitchen, and there were more than a thousand pans, pots, ladles, cauldrons and copper utensils in his cellars. In the form of a large complex, this lodge has a cellar, a bakery and a coffee house besides its kitchen, and its guests could stay for five or ten days (1/207). Master chefs work in the kitchen of the Çizmeciler Tekkesi, located in the Tophane district, and it had a thousand soups (1/189).
Similarly, meals were served to guests in Christian monasteries. 
In the kitchen of the monastery on Mount Sinai, where there are more than a hundred cooks, they would prepare whatever food they wanted for the Christian pilgrims who visited there (9/423): "And there are hundreds of intrusive asbazz on the matbah-ı Keykavus of this day. Whatever you want every day, they will prepare it. And there is even bird's milk and life water in its cellar.”
In some schools or madrasas, students were given free meals. Giving food to students every day in the Hatuniyye School in Trabzon is an example found in the Seyahatname (2/51).
It is a very old and common occurrence in all societies that rulers and statesmen show both their power and the love they have for the people by distributing meals or banquets to the people on various occasions. One of the many examples in the Seyahatname is about the Egyptian pasha. In his palace, soup was cooked morning and evening every day and served to everyone, rich or poor (10/117a). The khans of Bitlis, on the other hand, used to give food to all the people during the months of Muharram and Ramadan (4/82).
It was customary to give banquets to soldiers before and after battles. Evliya Çelebi gives various examples of this. After the capture of Istanbul, Ottoman soldiers were given banquets for three days and three nights, and Sultan Mehmet wore loincloth and served his soldiers at these banquets (1/44-45):
"Sultan Mehemmed Han came to the Tershane Garden for three days and three nights to cemî'i guzat-i muslimine it'am-i am edup summat-i Muhammadis edup personally kendu s kilt der-miyan edüp çâşnigîrbaşı cloak-to-muffled dress You need to eat nemek, neither dahl nor deyü hun-ı beyâz bezl edüp ba'de'tta'âm, pouring water with a ewer to the dest-i sherîfs of the ulema-yi fuzalâs who were in ser-i kar, and then acted with kesr-i nafs for three days and three nights. did.”
In the banquet he gave for Melek Ahmed Pasha at the Kefender Castle in Hasankeyf, Bitlis Inn Abdal Khan gave thousands of meals to Hasankeyf notables and its people, three thousand of which belonged to him and three thousand belonged to Melek Ahmet Pasha, as well as six thousand soldiers (4/60).
The feasts given to the Ottoman army (4/126 and 136) before the battles against the Bitlis Inn, during the siege of Uyvar Castle, are told (6/198). At this second feast, 300 sheep, 50 cattle, 3000 chickens, 50 cauldrons of rice, 50 cauldrons, soup and 200,000 breads were given.
After the victory against the Kalmyks, a feast with boza kebab was given to the army in the Ferahkirman Castle (7/213).
Religion and Food
Food is given great importance in Islam, many hadiths, traditions and beliefs are related to food. The fact that the chief of cooks is the Prophet Muhammad emphasizes this situation (1/248-9). According to Evliya, the first cooks were Adam, who cooked the father soup of the rice, and the Prophet Abraham of the second before the Prophet Muhammad.
Dishes such as tirit and dates that the Prophet Muhammad and his relatives ate gained special importance. 
Among the information he gave on these issues, Evliya states that the head and leg of the sacrifice, which was slaughtered to celebrate the birth of Imam Hussein, was cooked with vinegar and garlic by Sheikh Seyfeddin Herati for the Prophet (1/246); Herise and wheat soup was cooked and eaten after the conquest of Mecca (1/248-9; 9/398); Simit was presented to Hasan and Hüseyin by Reyyân-ı Hindi (1/231); It is stated that the Prophet always ate barley bread and that's why the sofis in the Crimea did not eat wheat bread (7/196).
There are also foods dedicated to pre-Islamic prophets. For example, it is said that the first yoghurt and cheese making is from Prophet Abraham (9/187).
The water of the Zamzam Well, which is believed to have been opened by Prophet Ibrahim or his son, Prophet Ismail in Mecca, is considered holy (Hançerlioğlu 743). Awliya drinks water from the Zamzam Well during the pilgrimage: "While he enters and nukes the âb-ı mâ 'ü 'l-hayât âb-i Zamzem, he recites this du 'â-yı mâ'ü 'l-hayât âb-ı Zamzem": "Allahümme innî es 'elüke ilmen nafi 'an ve rizkan vasi 'an ve sifâen min kulli dain vagsil kalbî ve 'mla'hu ve min hasyetik." It is said that it is permissible to pour zamzam water on clothes and hair, wash the face and even wash the body for healing purposes, but it is not permissible to use it for cleaning elsewhere (9/368). it is seen that holy or delicious waters are likened to zamzam water (For example, 9/243-4).
The vital water has assumed a semi-sacred identity. Janissary beards remind the martyrs of Karbala who were left without water: They walk by saying 'Sehidan-ı daşt-i Karbala ervahlarıyçin sebil' (1/231). And their back beards say to guzat-i Muslim 'Sakka sebil, mercy to those who drink the sebil, ab-ı life cloth'... Some of them are 'water for the sake of Ma-i Hasan and Hüseyin'." (1/231).
In the battle for priority between halva makers and fish cooks, both sides make various claims against the other. In these accusations, besides health-related ones, there are also religious ones, such as that halva causes diseases such as headaches, and that eating too much fish makes the mind weak.
While fish cooks say that they cook mercy food, have a bite for the poor, and that their pir is Prophet Yunus, halva makers talk about hadiths and verses describing rivers of grapes and filtered honey, "Loving sweets is a part of faith." and "The believer is like halva." They repeat their words and say that their pir is Helvaî Ömer (1/252-3). In this discussion, the sacred symbolism given to fish in Christianity and sweet food in Islam is contrasted.
One of the defenses of the butchers, who entered into a priority dispute with the Egyptian merchants, is that their business is "sheep that has been blessed with the mercy of Allah Almighty" in response to the accusation of the merchants of polluting the city with blood and causing epidemics. In addition, while they do business with "profit-i halal", they also protect the merchants of Egypt. they accuse them of immorality: "These are a regiment of phoenix and treater and ribahor peoples... a regiment of arrogant peoples." Despite these, considering the customs revenues from the goods coming from Egypt, priority is given to the Egyptian merchants (1/239-40).
For vinegar, Evliya said, "If there is no vinegar in a house, there is no prosperity in the moment, it is a calamity. Whose vinegar is haram, the middle of it is vinegar, it becomes halal, the barn becomes wine, it is still haram, you left a handful of salt in the wine, and it is still halal, but it is an unfortunate sun-i Hüda." says (1/248).
It is said that the millers do not have pirs because the horses that turn the mills suffer, and that the bread made from this flour is useless: "Because I have torment, I do not feel sorry for the bread." Evliya also tells that using a hand mill is a sunnah-i Rasul, and that no other mills are used in Mecca and Medina (1/232).
Zerde is one of the dishes with a religious meaning. According to Evliya Çelebi, zerde was invincible in Iran: "There is no good or bad taste in the Persian Realm. Because Hazrat Osman edited it. Since Muaviye ibn Abi Sufyan, the father of Zerdey Yazid, was born, these two blessings are the land of Persia." "It's not a curse either. But the nieces eat it at last." (4/178) For the same reason, the Amavuts do not eat zerde or drink boza:
"In the sanjaks of Amavudistan... they will scrutinize Muaviye and Yazid, who can't splurge as much as the Qizilbash, and they eat and drink boza, because Muaviye is the cause of zealots and boza smugglers." (4/274) Again, in the eighth volume, it is repeated that Albanians stay away from zerde and boza because of the invention of Muaviye, but here he draws attention to the contrast that most boza makers in Istanbul are Albanians (8/301).
One day, Evliya Çelebi is in a difficult situation when he does not drink wine because of his religious beliefs. When he refused the wine offered to him while he was chatting with the Bosnians in the province of Skodra, the Bosnians said, "One for one, for the sake of religion and Ali Murtaza, drink this wine; They become infidels like our captives who say that the goods of Gaza are haram.
This is our blood, our precious property, our wine, halal-i zülal gaza property.” they said. In the face of this insistence, Evliya could not find any way other than to leave their side: "We have seen contemptuously that a regiment of oguz [simple peasants] men. Heman got up and said, 'Prayers you veterans'." says (5/255).
Seafood that is not fish is considered sinful food. While talking about crab, crayfish, shrimp, octopus, and lobster caught in baskets, Evliya says that lobster is worse than all of them, but he does not explain why: "The cardboard from the lobster sentence is sinful." (1/254).
He also gives information about the Jewish food rules and explains that they never eat any oil other than sesame oil and butter: "The Israeli Jewish group is unlikely to eat any oil other than shir-i lugan [sesame oil] oil and butter. They do not eat ] and because they should eat pure oil, a religious Jew is of course a mukarrer in every Shir-i Lugan camp.” (1/262).
It seems that religious prohibitions do not always have an effect on old habits. Circassians who became Muslims continued to eat pork (7/280, 285). Tatars, like pork, did not give up horse meat, which is not haram but considered makruh by some. The Travelogue contains different views on this subject:
"Cemî'i Tatar scholars and sulehâs and sultans eat horse meat... With the permission of these scholars, Tatar people eat horse meat. Even Abu Hanîfe ki Nu'mân bin Sâbit who is Imam-i A'zam and it is humâm-i akdem, it is makrûh to eat horse meat on the basis of the common knowledge of the moments, because [horse] is a tool-i gazâ, it is possible for horses to die if they are allowed to eat horses. it is arbitrary.
However, it is halal for the tribes of Imam Shafi'i and Imam Hanbal, because people have acquired this hadith-i-sherîf from Hadrat Risalet." Jabir (RA) said: "On the day of Khaybar, the Prophet forbade the meat of the people of the donkey and gave permission for the meat of horses". For this hadîth-i sahîh, Muslim and
Bukhari mutafakun says aleyh. /The Tatar people of Anıçün eat horse meat, because a regiment is gaziyân-ı mujahidân. Usret pukarrer in expeditions.”
Evliya, who was served kebab of giraffe meat while he was in Sudan, said, "I hope it is halal." He eats it and likes it very much (10/450).
Evliya Çelebi's observations and information about food and drink within the framework of the events he lived and observed, as a person who knew scholars, statesmen and the public closely, read and traveled a lot, are very valuable. It tells people's real-life practices and thoughts with an objective and tolerant perspective, which is not limited to the official views of their environment. For this, Seyahatname is a leading source about the spiritual dimension of food.
Evliyâ Celebi, Evliyâ Celebi Travel Book, Jun: HERO, Seyit Ali-DAĞLI, Yücel-DANKOFF, Robert et al., C 1-10, Yapı Kredi Published, Istanbul 1996-2007. HANÇERLİOĞLU, Orhan, Dictionary of Islamic Beliefs, Remzi Bookstore, Istanbul 2000, 3rd Edition.
Encyclopedia of Islam, Turkish Religious Foundation, C IV, 1991.
The Qur'an and its Turkish Meaning, Presidency of Religious Affairs Publications, Ankara 1984. SERTOĞLU, Mithat, Ottoman History Dictionary, Enderun Bookstore, Istanbul 1986.
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