A restaurant unites the history of the generations
ANKARA - Traditional music sounds here and the smell of delicious food comes very often. Passing by this restaurant, because of curiosity, it is interesting for a person to look in. The rooms on the weekend are always crowded. People with traditional clothes sing songs and dance cultural dances. The tables are covered with fried pies, rolls, many vegetables and fruits, and tea poured into traditional Turkish cups. For restaurant managers the gathering is almost more important as the food they served.
The owner of traditional Crimean restaurant Kirim Evi, or Crimean house in English, says that he didn’t open the place to make money, he believes that the goal he pursues will serve for a greater perspiration of the nation of Crimea. “The place in which we are now is designed to preserve the traditions of Crimean Tatars”, said Umit Silit, the owner of Kirim evi, a Crimean restaurant in Ankara.
Umit has its own construction company. He has been building roads in Turkey for many years. The Crimean house, in his words, is a place where he can relax and see his friends. “We have opened this Crimean House to unify and to promote our culinary, our folklore and our Crimean culture. I am in a position to make the Crimean Tatars that living in this region meet and communicate with each other.
Kirim Evi was impregnated with the traditions of the Crimea. At the entrance, to the right was a huge photograph of the Bakhchsaray Khan’s Palace, the main historical heritage of the Crimean Tatars. We can also see numerous photos of the Crimean important places: Swallow’s Nest, Mount Ayu-dag (Bear Mountain), White Rock, etc. Besides, there are stands dedicated to traditional needlework, national clothes and jewelry of the Crimean Tatars. We can also get acquainted with the literature and musical instruments of the indigenous people of Crimea.
“In Ankara, as it is the capital of Turkey, to see the Crimean Tatar cuisine and Crimean culture and being able to taste these delicacies is a great feeling for us. So in the diaspora of Turkey, Crimean cuisine and Crimean culture will be introduced in Ankara by a brand new venue”, said frequent guest of Kirim evi, Crimean activist Recep Sen.
Kirim Evi is the center of the Crimean Tatar community. Head of the Crimean Development Fund Umit Silit built it in the Crimean Tatar traditions. The restaurant unites exiles from different generations and always serves as a roof for compatriots from the Crimea and not only. “When you frustrate a fruit from a branch, says Umit, it sooner or later begins to rot. To avoid this happening to us, people living far away from the Motherland, our ancestors tried to live close to each other in exile and preserve traditions and culture. Our generations must save it as well”
The Russification policies related to the peninsula started after its first annexation, in 1783. According to Fethi Kurtiy Sahin’s analysts and research, assimilation policy of the Russian Empire was a main reason why “the Crimean Tatars were forced out of the lands of the Crimean Khanate to the Ottoman Empire for over 150 years, with mass migration being seen particularly in 1812, 1828-1829, 1860-1861,1874,1890 and 1902”. According to estimations based on Ottoman documents, the number of Crimean Tatars migrating to Ottoman lands between 1783 and 1922 was about 1.8 million. At the present time, the most numerous diaspora of Crimean Tatar lives on the territory of Turkey, according to non-official data, it is about 3-4 million. However, according to the last population census conducted in 2001, 243.400 thousand (12%) Crimean Tatars live in the Crimea.
In 1873, after the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the Crimean War, Umit’s ancestors were forced to leave the peninsula, since it seemed more impossible to continue their existence in the homeland under the pressure of the Russian Empire. At first they emigrated to the Dobrogea (Romania) and then in 1903 to Polatli (Turkey).
“History will not let me lie, our nation have been fighting for several centuries for the right to live peacefully in their homeland”, said Umit.
According to Umit’s family memories, it was morally and physically difficult to live in a migration. “Once my grandmother talked about the Crimea she started to cry. I remember it very well”, added Umit.
Umit’s family trauma encourages him to help families who find themselves in similar situations. Despite the fact that he currently can not go to the Crimea, he tries to help Crimean Tatars both financially and morally. It is important to emphasize that the cooks in Kirim evi is a family that was forced to leave the Crimea in difficult circumstances that developed after the occupation of Crimea in 2014.
Zeyneb and Ayder Osmanov with three children left the occupied Crimea 3 years ago. The Osmanov family had long thought of moving to the other side, looking for prospects for their children. But for a long time they did not dare to leave their family and home. But the last link in the chain of decisions for them was the annexation of Crimea, which took away the rights of their children to receive an international standard education. Diplomas received after graduation from educational institutions in the Crimea are not recognized in the world.
Moving to Ankara, they were looking for a job for about a year. For some time they had to live on savings that they earned and postpone in the Crimea. There they had their own restaurant business, which became difficult to maintain after the Russian offensive. In Crimea, they had to leave a big house, which they themselves built, from the first brick. At one of the meetings, organized by the Crimean Development Fund in Ankara, the Osmanov’s family met met Umit Silit. And as a result, there was friendly mutual help. “We do not think about our fates anymore. We are here only for our children in order to provide them with a bright future. Now we can not do this in the Crimea” sadly responded Zeyneb Osmanova.
Zeynep and Ayder explained that thanks to the Crimean Development Fund activities, their children are able to be a part of national environment, listening to folk music and dancing traditional dances. So according to them, their children are formed as the Crimean Tatars. It helps them to grow as an individuals. According to Osmanov’s opinion, a person without culture, language, etc. can simply get lost in society.
“Working here in a cafe is really comfortable because this place reminds us of our home. Our diaspora understands us well. Umit Silit is a true patriot. He is always happy to do his best in the name of preserving the historical and cultural heritage of the Crimean Tatars”, said Ayder and invited Kirim evi guests to try cheburek (national dishes of the Crimean Tatars).
“All those who live in the Crimea, in our heart. They are my brothers and sisters. If we do not support them in difficult situations, then who will do it? Especially now, when our homeland is occupied again,” said Umit.