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I met Emre at the Atlantic Institute Peace and Dialogue Awards dinner where I had the honor of receiving the Peace and Dialogue award.

We sat at the same table, and he read my mind. He suggested hosting Iftar dinner at his and wife Esra’s home. Iftar is the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. We removed our shoes at the door and settled in to the living room to chat and begin to get to know each other. At 8:16pm, when fast is broken during Ramadan, we took our seats at the table, and Emre passed around a small dish of dates, which we used to break the fast. Emre’s wife Esra then brought out a deliciously smooth red lentil and potato soup called Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası. This was followed with a myriad of Turkish dishes: Fırında Patlıcan ve Köfte Kebabi, Baked beef meatballs with eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes; Imam Bayildi, Eggplant cooked in olive oil with onions, garlic and tomatoes, Pirinç Pilavı, Cooked rice and barley with butter; Salad of chopped Lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber; Baba Ganoush, Ground eggplant, sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon, and garlic; Yaprak Sarma, stuffed grape Leaves with rice, onion, and spices, Yoğurtlu havuç salatası, carrot salad with yogurt and garlic; Peynirli börek, cheese pastry. Dessert was the sweetest, stickiest, succulent Baklava, accompanied with double boiled Turkish tea and Turkish coffee.

On this evening, it was all about love, acceptance, and respecting differences.

Our Hosts: Emre and Esra

“We met Tina at the Peace and Dialogue event by Atlantic Institute. She was the winner of
Peace and Dialogue Award thanks to her brilliant and transformational idea. We personally
wanted to be part of it and offered to host an Iftar dinner. Other than Tina, we hosted 5
strangers without even knowing their name before the dinner. The combination of guests and
open discussion suppressed our hunger and thirst after 15-hour fasting. It was so amazing to
have complete strangers personally bonded in around 4 hours, and see how difficult it was to
end the evening’s conversation! We are looking forward to having another opportunity to host
Transformational Table.”

Our Chef: Esra

“I was little nervous to cook for guests without knowing their background and tastes. I wanted
to prepare a menu that represents Turkish Cuisine and Iftar tradition with a cultural story. Our
guests were respectful and willing to wait until 8:16 pm – sun set time for breaking our fast –
for eating and drinking with us, so it had to be worth for them to wait. It was great to see how
the guests were interested to taste different food and drinks while exchanging personal stories
and sharing many laughs. I was glad to see everybody enjoy my cooking. I am very happy and
proud to have been a part of this experience.”

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