There are many different alcoholic beverages around the world that you can enjoy; wine, vodka beer, gin, tequila… But Turkey has embraced one of them as national drink: Raki. What makes this drink so special for Turkish people? Let’s find out!
1. Raki is an alcohol made with distilled grapes and anise. It has a unique smell coming from anise. At first, people may seem that smell unattractive. But once you get used to it, you become addicted. That smell has itself is attractiveness in itself.
2. You do not seek need for rules while drinking beer, wine or something similar. However, there is a special etiquette to drinking raki (Yaman, 2016). This etiquette is the one which makes raki so special. People attribute a meaning to raki by these rules. For example, raki is not a single person drink. You should at least have one person next to you because conversation is another “appetizer (meze)” of raki table (Yaman, 2016). It needs social environments where people can talk and share feelings. But you should not forget that whatever is told and said stays at the table (Yaman, 2016).
3. Raki is not consumed alone. It has two close friends: melon and feta cheese. If you are familiar with Turkish cuisine, you might have seen that there are the combinations of two different tastes: sour and sweet. For example, my mother used to eat baklava with yoghurt or in the breakfast time, people eat jam or honey with feta cheese in the breakfast time. When two different flavors tastes come together, they create a new and delicious sensation. Melon and feta cheese also creates such a taste. So we cannot separate the lovers.
4. Besides its two friends, there is also something called a “raki table (rakı sofrası)”. This table includes many different appetizers (meze in Turkish). For example, “haydari”, thick yoghurt with garlic and mint; “şakşuka”, fried aubergines with tomato garlic sauce; “atom”, thick yoghurt with spicy peppers; and “hummus”, mashed chickpeas with tahini. These are only few examples from the raki table. But the important factor is that raki is not consumed with heavy dishes. When drinking raki, the main aim is to enjoy the raki while eating less.
5. Finally, it wouldn’t be completed if we didn’t don’t mention about the final manner conclusion of the raki culture: going to a soup restaurant (çorbacı) at the end of the night. When everyone finishes their drinks and there is nothing remained remaining from the raki table, people go outside and find a soup restaurant. This is the unwritten ritual of raki culture. The reason why people do this is to get sober and facilitate help the digestion via with soup. Best option is considered as tripe soup (işkembe çorbası) because it is more peptic than other soups.
When thinking about all features of raki, we can see that there is a huge raki culture established via unwritten but joyful rules. This is what separates raki from other alcohols.