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  • Writer's pictureÖzlem Özkan

Askıda Ekmek


I recently read Seth Godin’s latest book The Practice; “Shipping Creative Work”.

In chapter 4 I saw two Turkish words “Askıda Ekmek”. I immediately called my mum and I sent my friend from Istanbul a message and asked what this term means and it followed with my question why I didn’t know this term. I got frustrated. I speak and understand very well Turkish, but how does it come that I didn’t know Askıda Ekmek.

My mum was born and raised in a small village around 1960 (real birthday and year not known) in Anatolia Turkey. In this village, there was one small grocery store, one mosque, and one bakery.

My friend was born in Istanbul in 1988 and raised in another big city in Turkey (birthday, year, time of birth exactly known). In these cities, there were multiple grocery stores, butchers, churches, mosques, synagogues, and bakeries.

Born in different times and totally different places in Turkey, they both knew exactly what Seth Godin had written about. Seth writes in The Practice:

“Askıda Ekmek: there is bread on the hook. It’s an ancient tradition in Turkey. When buying a loaf at the local bakery, you can choose to pay for an extra loaf and, after bagging your purchase, the owner will hang the second loaf on a hook on the wall. If a person in need comes by, he or she can ask if there’s anything on the hook. If so, the bread is shared, and the hunger is relieved. Perhaps as important, community is built.”

In the village of Pörnek where my mum used to live, Askıda Ekmek was applied in different ways. First in the bakery, where it all started. While no one in this village was financially rich most citizens bought two loaves of bread and hung one loaf on a hook on the wall. With the money that was collected, they built a guesthouse for travelers and nomads that had to stay over for the night. After the wheat harvest in high summer, they had an extra sack of grains ready for others. When there was a wedding where everyone in Pörnek was invited, every household baked the traditional “hamursuz’ pastry and brought it to the venue, so the pastry was shared, and effort relieved.

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