"You just gave me the best cookie I have eaten in months! It was... amazing."
How did he react?
"Haha, I totally saw that! Your expression said everything. Come here, I'll give you another one! This one's actually even better I think..."
How did I feel?
Like cookie god had blessed me. Initially I'd been at this Turkish bakery around the corner to grab some Baklava and cookies as a thank you gift for a friend. I was undecided for a while- all the cookies looked great. How were I supposed to know which ones to go for? Hüseyin watched me. He went over to one of the cookie mountains, took a chocolate cream filled one and gave it to me. "Try this!"
I said "Thanks!" and took a bite. Immediately I stopped moving. Every part of my body was busy tasting and enjoying. Paradise unfolded in my mouth: A sweet chocolate cream center, perfect consistency. A hard cover that turned into marvelous, sugary sand while resting on my tongue.
It took a bit to eat this baby, it was big. Every part I let melt in my mouth tasted richer, better, more intense.
Finally I ordered, paid, left. I was still spacing out in cookie land.
Once I'd handed my friend his gift I knew I had to return to the bakery and compliment Hüseyin.
He was amazingly friendly, had a great laugh and refused to believe I was doing this- the complimenting- every day. He took a moment, then said: "On the other hand, you are so likeable- if anyone does something like that it's gotta be you."
What a beautiful statement! Thank you, Hüseyin.
"Hey, do you want some coffee? I'll get one for myself- how about you?"
Cookies, coffee, compliments. I received an amazing collection of gifts (And, as I am realizing now, co-words! :). And I found the answer to a question I have been asking myself for a while: Obviously great hospitality is a major part of the oriental culture. But what reaction is adequate? I did have a feeling accepting the things offered to me
was the right thing to do. On the other hand I'd heard about cultures like the Japanese in which the "correct" reaction would've been three times "no!" and only then, finally, "yes.". Not for the Turkish- Hüseyin explained and I know now: If they open the doors to cookie love for you you better step inside. For your own social-, tummy- and ultimate-total-soul-food-self-love good!
Thanks for all these beautiful gifts and 15 great minutes chatting, Hüseyin. You are too good.