CHARLOTTE – Invitations home

Invitations homeTurks are wonderful hosts. When invited, always accept — it is rude not to.

The foreign visitor may be surprised at various customs, and concerned about making a social faux pas. Watch what others do, and do the same.

If they take their shoes off at the door, you should too. Slippers will be provided.

A little refreshing cologne will be poured into your cupped hands. Wipe your hands together and rub the back of your neck with it.

Two or three generations may live under one roof, which can be daunting when you are first introduced, but remember to greet everyone in the room If you are sitting down when new guests arrive, stand up to greet themAn evening meal may start late the usual time is about 8 pm You are not expected to arrive exactly at mealtime — usually you will be invited earlier, so you can sit and talk with your hosts first. Wait to be invited to the table.

During the meal, your hostess will want to look after you and will offer to serve you each dish. Don’t serve yourself.

A lovely Turkish custom is to say the phrase “Afiyet olsun” (Bon appetit) to each other at the table. There is a special phrase you can say to the cook: “Elinize saIlIk” (Health to your hands).

When you have eaten everything on your plate, your hostess will offer you more. It is important for Turkish hosts to be sure that they have done their best for you by serving you a large and wonderful meal, so even if you refuse, she may press you several times to have an extra helping.

If you are full you can refuse, and compliment her on the food placing your right hand palm down on your chest is a polite way of both expressing gratitude for the food and showing that you are full and do not want more.Depending on the situation, the hostess may not sit at the table, but just serve all the time.

If your hosts have children, don’t be surprised at how late they stay up. When dinner is over, even though it may seem late, you should not leave right away.

Enjoying the company after the meal is important. Then, when the evening seems to have come to an end, don’t just get up and say you have to go.

Start the process gently by dropping a few hints that you will need to leave soon. You are asking permission to leave.

A short time later you should mention it again. Your host will try to encourage you to stay longer When you are preparing to leave, they will insist on helping you with your coat.

Your shoes should be put on in the hallway by the door or outside the door in the building.As a guest you are entitled to respect.

You are in a special category and will be treated and served well. Your host will expect to put on a spread — if not, they will feel they have been rude — a potluck supper is definitely not Turkish style.

Even if you are dropping in for coffee, your host will produce a range of both sweet and savory food to accompany it. The visitor should realize that if an offer is extended to stop by any time, it is truly meant and taken literally.

Conversely, your Turkish friend may call on you when you least expect it.You should remember a few points about gift giving:When visiting someone in their home, take a small gift such as flowers or chocolate.

The gift should always be wrapped, in wrapping paper or even in a plastic bag. It should not normally be handed to the host just place it in the hallway or on a table.

Your hostess will probably not open it in front of you. If a gift needs to be handed to the recipient — for example, in the case of a birthday — this should be done without a lot of attention.

Be careful not to compliment your host on something or it may be given to you as a gift. Appreciating a picture or vase or other possession may be taken as a request for it to be given to you.

You may be given food to welcome you to the apartment when you move in. If your neighbor gives you a plate of food you should accept it, but don’t return the plate empty.

Fill it with some food of your own. However, times are changing.

These days, the neighbor may ask you to just put the item on a plate of your own and return her plate while she waits.The Turkish hostess will ensure that everyone is comfortable and she may never sit for long.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman