No big surprises from the Turkish parliamentary elections yesterday, but I did want to share my favorite item of pre-election news: a speech in which the leader of the far-right nationalist party mispronounced bisküvi (biscuit) as püskevit. I’ve been trying to think of how to translate püskevit to convey the right effect. Piscuit? Bisguit? Bisguat? In the speech he is saying something like, “Children watch TV commercials, they see smiling children eating chocolate and piscuit, and they think: ‘if only I had chocolate – if only I had piscuit! Mother, get me chocolate! Get me piscuit!’”
Within days/ hours, there was a puskevit.com site online (it shows a screenshot of the entry for “biscuit” in the Turkish Language Institute dictionary) and a number of “püskevit remixes” (my favorite here).
The nationalists subsequently announced that “püskevit” was a regional (Adana/ Osmaniye) pronunciation, and that a popular snack food (“Anatolian fast-food”) back in the day was a sandwich made with two biscuits and a piece of Turkish delight (lokum). It’s not totally clear to me whether the idea is that “püskevit” was the Adana word for the biscuit-lokum sandwich, or, as seems more likely, just the word for biscuits in general; in any case, this sandwich, under the name “püskevit,” rapidly became a standard snack at nationalist rallies. Püskevit pride was also (re)awakened in Adana where, according to a local locum maker, this noble snack was once served at weddings and on Mohammed’s birthday: