You know it's a damn good party when you don't stumble into bed until 5:30 in the morning. Istanbul Armenians really know how to have a good time -- how lucky am I! After having spent the last couple of New Year's parties with non-Armenian friends, I had forgotten how much unabashed fun it is partying with "the clan." Or, I realize that I had at least taken it for granted.
New Year's was spent in Los Angeles at the party the Organization of Istanbul Armenians threw -- or Bolseh-Hye Myoutyoun as it is more affectionately called. Quite fitting since some of my relatives from Istanbul are also here to visit, and it was a small reunion of sorts.
It really was the absolute perfect evening as far as these things go: fabulous plates of every kind of meze you could possibly imagine, coupled with the obligatory glasses of rakı. This followed by plates of kufte, pilaf, chicken and lamb. However I never made it past the meze, since the music had started and it was time to dance! First ones on the floor, of course. Leave it to Bolseh-Hyes to bring some Brazilian dancers to join and enhance the intoxication. Brushed up on my salsa and samba a little -- I need more practice but, man! does it help having an excellent partner! The musical selections for the evening were superb with the perfect blend of Armenian, Arabic, Greek, Spanish, Brazilian, and YES, Turkish. Not one style was played more than the other, and we drank up every moment on the dance floor.
At an Istanbul Armenian New Year's party, there comes a time late in the evening (1am?), when the steaming bowls of işkembe çorba arrive for your gastric pleasure. This potent soup of beef tripe, vinegar and garlic is supposed to clear your system, and prevent a floor-dropping hangover. Fantastic stuff, but may I warn you, it is to say the least, an acquired taste. Lap it up! Of course we also had the traditional New Year's Armenian dessert anoush abour, with tea and a soothingly smooth, 15 year old cognac that my uncle brought for the celebration. Oh... the sweet contentment all of this brings!
The Bolseh-Hye party lasted until 3am when we were finally the last one's on the dance floor. We finished up the evening at my uncle's house, gathered round a roaring fire. My brother and Shant played some piano and guitar and, of course, there was more işkembe çorba to be had by all. And chocolate, and more cognac, and alour helvah, and yes, even left-over pizza.
There's really not much more you could ask for when celebrating the new year. All I can say is, I'm damn lucky to have this family, and have this culture and history saturate my life.