My mother-in-law opened the window at the kitchen and called for me, “Come here I will introduce you!” As I came by I saw her crumbling a few slices of stale bread and sprinkling them over the window seal. “Poor things, they struggle to find any food at this cold and snow. Make sure you give them a few slices of bread every day. They’ll peck it in no time”.
The winter has been long and severe for our latitude this year. Snow to the knees and cold that made me wear my skiing layered outfit as regular clothes. And that’s why when last Sunday the sun magically melted all the snow in a few hours we were the happiest people in the world. While there are spring celebrations in Turkey such as Novruz festival at the East I felt like reviving my home-land traditions of welcoming the favorite season.
On March, 22 and the whole subsequent week we in Russia celebrate the Day of 40 when, according to the belief, larks come back from the warmer lands where they spent winter. In the old days each family would welcome the birds with baking bird shaped bread rolls. Those would be distributed to the children who would put them on the fence and sing songs to invite the arriving birds. Afterwards the bird shaped bread rolls will be eaten and their heads would be fed to the cattle.
I baked the birds the night before and at the breakfast the Turkish inhabitants of our farmhouse were astonished and happy to join me in the spring celebration. We opened the window and heard birds singing on our fruit trees in full bud.Print
Olga Tikhonova-Irez runs food tours and cooking classes in Istanbul, Turkey. Other times she can be found in the countryside where she helps her Turkish mother-in-law to run their family restaurant. Olga writes about the rights and wrongs of eating and food shopping in Istanbul and also shares Turkish cooking recipes at her blog Delicious Istanbul.