This past summer we stepped out of our adopted home of Istanbul, Turkey and stayed a couple of months back in our natural home of Fort Wayne, living near Baerfield Freeway.‑ Living and working overseas creates a sort of two identities.‑ In Turkey we eat Turkish food, drink strong Turkish tea, talk the crowded hilly streets of the city like other Turks, converse in Turkish (though certainly not as well as Turks) and get into the rhythm of Turkish life.‑ The half a dozen Starbucks and McDonald’s around Istanbul keep us from completely forgetting our roots in the American heartland but they don’t completely insulate us from a way of life very different from life in Indiana.
Take the past month.‑ Turkey, a country officially ninety-nine percent Muslim, celebrated the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.‑ For thirty days every healthy man and woman should abstain from eating or drinking anything during daylight hours…and in Turkey most of them do.‑ At sundown calls go out from mosques across the city announcing “Iftar,” the moment of breaking the fast. ‑Decades ago non-Muslim minorities in Turkey experienced strong pressure to not eat or drink in public during Ramadan.‑ These days the pressure comes more in the form of disapproving stares rather than angry words or actions.‑ So we just respectfully deferred to our Turkish hosts, avoiding eating in public.
Eating in public of course is never an issue for Americans.‑ It didn’t take long for us this summer to readjust to the endless variety of restaurants in Fort Wayne, each with an endless list of menu selections.‑ A check-up at the doctor revealed that my readjustment to abundant and fine dining in the States had pushed my cholesterol into the zone of risk.‑ I quit getting cheese mountains on my Mexican food, started walking the river greenway along the St. Mary’s, and bought some Quaker Oats.‑ The cholesterol dropped and I felt better.‑ I also started to wonder what has caused us Americans to become so attached to food…so to speak.‑ I don’t think radical fasting is the answer, but neither is gluttony.‑ Perhaps the best route falls somewhere in between, in the way of moderation.
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