First Fruit Laughter and Nostalgia for Ritual Density
Meltem Turkoz (Bosphorus University )
Paper short abstract:
This paper draws from online food blogs, interviews, and personal recollections to examine ritual utterance and laughter during consumption of first fruits in Turkey. This invites us to reflect on the role of ritual laughter and also on the boundaries between the present and a ritually dense past.
Paper long abstract:
This exploratory paper is part of a broader research project on alternative economies of food and narrative in Turkey and draws from online food blogs, interviews, and personal recollections to examine ritual utterance and laughter during the consumption of first fruits in Turkey and the Middle East. Eating a particular fruit for the first time in the spring is treated as a special occasion and is marked by performative utterance or by an increased awareness of generosity. As an early plum or grape passes the boundary of the body, the consumer expels, or often bursts forth in forced laughter. In the utterances or gestures that accompany or precede this laughter, the person may wish her pain or disease go to a social outcast category, or they pretend-rub the fruit on their behind before a bite. For others, this is an occasion to confine oneself to the home, or to seek out or demonstrate generosity. Some report only eating the first fruit from the hands of a generous person, and others insist only on eating it in the confines of the home. This enactment invites us to reflect on the roles attributed to the sound of ritual laughter on the one hand, and also on the various boundaries, between the body and out of the body and between the home and beyond. First fruit rituals, depicted with nostalgia by food bloggers, offer an "expression of differentiation" between what is perceived to be an uncertain present and a past of ritual density.
Food for thought (and dwelling) in uncertain times