This is to attract your attention to a cheese conference in the Kars region of Turkey in mid-July: Türkiye’de ve Dünyada Yerel-Geleneksel Peynirler: Kars Kaşarı Coğrafi İşareti (Local Artisanal Cheeses in Turkey and in the World: The Use of Geographical Indication for Kars Kaşarı Cheese). Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend, as the Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle takes place on exactly the same days, July 15 till 17. But I urge you to go, and/or submit a paper. It is all about traditional, artisanal Turkish cheeses (like the ones we presented on the occasion of last year’s Cheese Berlin) and the problems they face today. You can find all the details here.
The man behind is İlhan Koculu. By now I’ve heard so much about him that I can’t wait to meet him – and I will, on a 10 days field trip to Kars in late August! He has been carrying on with the family tradition in cheese production (gravyer, kaşar and other local products) in Bogatepe, and is the founder of the Bogatepe Life and Environment Association, as well as the first cheese museum of Turkey, Ecomuseum Zavot. “Koculu has been constructing (says the conference’s website) global networks, opportunities for the local community and solidarity tourism. He has launched numerous projects for protecting local varieties such as Kavılca wheat, also created workshops for the conservation and drying of various endemic herbs (aromatic, medicinal, edible, coloring and ornamental). Koculu was the coordinator of the project of “From Alps to Caucasus: The history of cheesemaking in Kars”.” I am immensely grateful to my friend Gamze İneceli for attracting my attention to all this in the first place 8and being my friend!). So, if cheese is your focus, go. There is more to Turkey than what we get shown in the news.