If there is one social space that epitomizes the Turkish experience, it is ‘meyhane’. ‘Meyhane’ is composed of two Persian words: mey (wine) and khāneh (house). Meyhane is the phenomenon of Turkish and Greek cultures, and its history goes back thousands of years. It is the Turkish version of Greek Tavern; represents more than just a place to eat; a place where a deep conversation takes a place, secrets of the hearts being spoken as the Raki flows, and where quenching the thirst of the soul matters much more than satiating the hunger of the stomach. Meyhane as we know today, where men and women sit down together around tables draped in white linen clothes, where one selects the mezes from colourful trays and where Raki/Ouzo is the first drink that comes to mind.
The word ‘çilingir’ means locksmith in Turkish, but it derrives from the word ‘çeşnigir’ who is the first person to try small samples of the Sultan’s food to check their suitability for the Sultan’s palate in the Ottoman Empire times. Today, we refer Raki Table as Çilingir Sofrası
Viewed from this perspective, çilingir sofrası, the expression used to refer to the Raki/Tsikoudia table that brings up the secrets of the heart and get it formed into words flows from the mouths of those sitting around this table. Just like a locksmith would open a locked door!
Indeed, çilingir sofrası (the Raki/Ouzo table, where ‘Raki’ is the main actor) has its own set of rules. When talking about the Raki tables, an extensive order of mezes should be also mentioned; the mezes arrive while the Raki is being consumed and the conversation is deepened. Çilingir Sofrası is a place where you can save the world, talk about work matters or share the painful experience of separation from your ex-lover. This is a place where you can both laugh and cry at the same time, all happens with the help of Raki, and everything remains unspoken till the next Çilingir Sofrası…