Adana is the apple of Turkey's eye. It is famous for its food, cotton and plains. In addition, the city also has a separate importance due to the İncirlik Aitr Base that is shared with the United States, which is one of the largest bases in the Middle East. This week, we went for a day tour in this beautiful city with gourmet author Mehmet Yaşin accompanying us. In fact, the reason for our visit and talk with Mehmet Yaşin was to obtain information about a new food and entertainment center, which will be opened in Istanbul, and that I see as being a "gastronomic paradise." The place I am talking about is Watergarden, which is to be opened in Istanbul's Ataşehir district. As the subject was food, we met in Adana, which is famous for its food, instead of Istanbul. We started with thimble soup, followed by kibbeh, small Turkish pizzas and the famous kebabs of the city. Normally, I do not like boiled kibbeh, but this time it was delicious with the accompanying walnut oil. Ask for this sauce from kebab shops in Adana, which is made by a mixture of walnuts, olive oil and spices. And of course, we had turnip juice with these dishes, followed by the Karakuş dessert, which is a kind of baklava I tried for the first time.
As Mehmet Yaşin said, one of the most important factors for promoting countries currently, is their food. The more a specific country's restaurants are opened abroad, the more tourists visit that country, because people are able to learn about the tastes, culture and values of that country through this manner. This is called gastrodiplomacy. This means, local food serves as an intermediary to form a diplomatic connection between the country and tourists. I learned this term from Mehmet Yaşin and loved it. According to his claim, Thailand is a leading country in this regard. While the number of Thai restaurants was 5,000 in the whole world in 2010, this number increased to 15,000 in 2015. Here, the full significance of the Watergarden project emerges at this point. The project is a first in the world. It is a significant model for tourists visiting Istanbul to learn about our culture. It is also a successful venture to inspire foreign investors. I hope it will pose as an example to the world. The project will feature restaurants from all corners of Turkey and the number will be in the hundreds, featuring tastes from the Aegean to the Black Sea. Likewise, you will find world tastes here as well, ranging from Japan to Mexico. The facility, which has movie theaters, a spa, gaming saloons, a 4000-seat concert hall and sports fields, will only have shops catering to the culinary world. In other words, Watergarden will be a gastronomic center, instead of a shopping mall. Also, the center part of the complex will include a giant water pool, similar to the ones in Dubai and Las Vegas. The visitors will be able to view pool shows in addition to live concerts and events. The facility will even include special centers to care for your children while you enjoy the complex.
However, the most fascinating aspect for me was the information given by Mehmet Mutlu, general manager of Ziylan Company, which is constructing Watergarden. According to his claim, each day 350,000 people in Istanbul go out to dine. Turkey has a food and beverage sector with an annual volume of TL 24 billion ($8.2 billion). Half of this economy is covered by Istanbul. If we take a look at Mehmet Mutlu's claims, Watergarden aims to rejuvenate old Turkish customs as well. The Nostalgic Avenue to be built within the complex will house the oldest and most well established Turkish brands. With its old style avenue decoration, Turkish delight, halvah, coffee, nuts, boza, chestnuts and similar nostalgic Turkish delicacies will be sold. In my opinion, it will be a remarkable experience both for the public and investors and is a very unique investment opportunity for businessmen. We look forward to Watergarden, which will be opened in Ataşehir in June. It seems that next summer, this open-air concept location will be one of the trendy places to be.
While we were in Adana, we decided to go do some historical sightseeing in the city as well. The famous Stone Bridge, clock tower, Tinker Bazaar, Ulu Mosque, Sabancı Central Mosque and Seyhan River left us awestruck. The city is covered with palm trees and is very clean. We also had kebabs at Onbaşılar. However, I recommend the kebab shop named Yüzevler as well. You can order a meter-long kebab there. In the meantime, if you come across it on the street, do not skip the local dessert called Bicibici, which is made from grated ice, caster sugar and fruits.
Also, apart from its food, history and natural beauties, Adana is also famous for the Golden Boll Film Festival and Orange Blossom Festival. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the awards ceremony of the Golden Boll festival held in Istanbul. The award ceremony of the festival, which took place in September, was canceled due to terror attacks in the country. This time, the ceremony was given justice with a splendid organization. For the night, in which the best film of the year, producer, actor and screenwriter awards were given, celebrity actors and actresses such as Türkan Şoray, Ayşen Gruda and Yusuf Sezgin attended. The event, which was organized by Adana Metropolitan Municipality for the 22nd time this year, was a night of pride for Turkish cinema. Also, the Orange Blossom festival will be held in April. I recommend that you greet all the beauty of spring with this festival in Adana. Go to Adana and discover a different world of history, cuisine and entertainment.