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Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

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The verb ‘to drink’, içmek, can also mean ‘to smoke’ or ‘to take an oath’, and if you ask for ‘a drink’, içki, it usually implies an alcoholic one. But if you ask for a şerbet, you will be given a cool, refreshing syrup-based drink. The word şerbet is probably derived from the Arabic, sharab, and versions of the drink can be found throughout the Middle East. At Ottoman feasts sherbets were served between courses to refresh the appetite, a custom that is still maintained at weddings and other ceremonial occasions. The most common sherbets are made from sour cherries, pomegranates, mulberries, oranges, lemons, almonds, rose petals and rose-water. To mark the birth of a child a red milky drink, lobusa şerbeti, delicately spiced with cloves and cinnamon and sweetened with blocks of sugar that have been dyed red, is drunk with a blessing to the mother: ‘Sütün bol olsun’, ‘May your milk be plentiful.’