James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

R&K Insider: Inside Istanbul edition

Istanbul, autocracy, and Olive Garden.

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Hello, dear readers! Perhaps you saw that there was some news out of Turkey this week. Our woman in Istanbul took a tour through four neighborhoods in Istanbul with four very distinct views on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s referendum. The vote revolved around a change to the Turkish constitution; supporters say the change would be similar to the American system and detractors say it is a blatant power-grab by a power-hungry autocrat. As an American, I can tell you, the nuanced differences there aren’t as clear as they once were! Anyway, writer Sara Nasser talked to people rooting for and against the referendum, and despite knowing the result (a yes vote, Erdoğan’s preferred outcome) it’s a useful reminder that while these votes can feel like a stark choice between populist authoritarianism and the liberal world order, in fact, people have complicated and personal reasons for their reactions to political change.

That being said, FFS, this is bullshit. There are videos of reported voter fraud circulating online; despite that, the president has not exactly been gracious in victory. Not one bit. And this is all, of course, against a backdrop of Turkey’s increasingly surreal political purge.  For another angle, a majority of Turkish voters in Germany voted for Erdoğan’s presidential system. Why would they do that?

Here’s a general look at how autocrats triumph in democratic nations. And while we’re talkin’ autocrats, the fabulous Mary Beard on how Caesar’s murder set the template for political assassination. (Incidentally, I recently read her book SPQR and really enjoyed it. Check it out!)

In other voting news: what’s up with this horrible hologram trend that allows politicians to give speeches in multiple places at once? This is dumb. But more worryingly, populist upsets happened in the U.S. and Britain despite millennials; in France, it could happen because of them. On the other hand, did you know a couple of teens organized a thousands-strong protest march in Slovakia? Maybe the kids are alright, after all! Then again, maybe none of us are ok, in which case, here’s the U.S. government’s secret plan for surviving the end of the world. (Now more relevant than ever!)

How did the Sicilian mafia become so powerful? Turns out, it was all about lemons, like actual pieces of citrus fruit. One day in the life of a food cart vendor. Let’s enjoy knowing that farmers who harvest a prized form of edible larvae call its producer “the farty ant.” Let’s go to Lagos! It’s 4/20, so here’s your stoner thought of the day: “If elephants were astronauts, colonising Mars would be more feasible.” Problem solved! This is almost as useful as the time my friend Sarah drew up plans for what she called “automatic walking pants.” Mapping the potential Amtrakalypse under the current U.S. administration’s budget. The headline wars are over, because these guys definitely won. Stop eating bread, but for an actual good reason. Today in human beings vs. craven sociopaths. I’m a total sucker for these stories about people trying to create their own countries. RIP, Patrick le Wombat. There was a knife fight at Olive Garden, and other very important O.G. news. Seriously, that’s the tweet thread you need today.

Finally, did you know we’re having another in our banned countries dinner series? This one is focused on Syria and is in conjunction with Dalia Mortada, founder of Savoring Syria,  a special project dedicated to telling the stories of Syria and Syrians through the lens of food. You should come!

That’s it for this week! See you again next week for more of the best of politics, travel, and food from around the web. Tweet me stories you want to see @caraparks.

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