Turkish Inventions and Irrational Behavior

In 1992 I remember being in Floriade, the flower show that The Netherlands holds every ten years ( it’s on this year from April to October in case you want to see blankets of flowers disappearing into the horizon). The display of flowers, namely tulips was so immense that I, as many people, thought that tulips originated and were perfected in Holland. Not true. Tulips are actually from Turkey. They found their fame in Holland after a 16th century Dutch ambassador took the bulbs back home. The tulips garnered such adoration that people started to pay irrational prices for the plants, and in 1637 the love led to what can be argued was the first speculative investor bubble. Our Istanbul stay coincides with the city’s annual tulip festival and we wanted to catch a glimpse of the 12 million bulbs that were planted for the occasion.

Ava and Kayan were thrilled at the color variety when we visited Emirgan Korusu, a suburban park boasting the city’s largest tulip display.

Turkey has invented other things associated with irrational behavior.

One of them is wine. Actually, there is some debate as to the origins of wine. Archaeological evidence points to Georgia (as in the country not Peachtree) as having first produced wine but ample findings show that the Hittites in central Turkey were enjoying wine while living in their underground cities thousands of years ago. Today Turkey is the fourth largest producer of grapes. The bulk of this goes toward raki, the native aniseed brew. Contemporary wine is gaining popularity, but in an odd dynamic. Much of Turkey’s vineyards are in conservative areas where the production of alcohol is frowned upon. It is common for vineyards to sell their grapes to wineries who blend Turkish wines, some of which we have had to spit out, but some that have been really especially good over a late night game of Scrabble.

Another Turkish invention that causes irrational behavior? Money. Entire fields of study are dedicated to our relationship with money. We may have Turkey to thank for its origins, at least in the coin form. There is evidence that it was the Lydians of what is now Turkey who first started assigning value to metal objects. Perhaps in a rational celebration for not making it into the EU, Turkey introduced a new symbol for its currency last month.

Tulips, wine, money, kebabs, the Bosphorus, indulgent breakfasts… We could stay forever. And that’s not irrational.

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2 Responses to Turkish Inventions and Irrational Behavior

  1. Carl

    How did you make ‘generation’ (as it’s 10 letters)? Did someone add ‘ration’ to ‘gene’?

    • Diya

      Even better. Gene and Nappy were on the board. I added ratio. It didn’t get a lot of points, but it may have been my proudest Scrabble moment.

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