“I was raised by a grandfather and a grandmother from Konya. I am proud to say I am from Konya where ever I am. I would like to take my daughter to Konya and have her feel the great atmosphere there. I grew up with the doctrines of Rumi” says the famous food critic and taster Vedat Milor (58).
Milor known from the TV cooking shows introduces himself as; “I was born in Istanbul in 1955 as a son of a family from Konya. I graduated from Galatasaray high school. I also graduated from Boğaziçi University Department of Economy with a high honour degree. I completed my PhD in Sociology in the USA at California University. I stayed in France in 1986 for a year for my PhD thesis. After completing my PhD, I did my military service in my country. After my military service, I started to work for World Bank. I worked there for 2 years. After that, I started to work as an Assist. Prof. at Brown University Department of Sociology in the USA. Meanwhile, I continued studying Law at Stanford University. I also graduated from there with a high degree. I taught international relations courses at Koç University in Istanbul. At the moment I am a food and wine critic. I am the presenter of the TV programme “Vedat Milor'la Tadı Damağımda” on NTV which is broadcasted three times a week. Since 2005, I have been writing a column in Milliyet on Thursdays and Sundays. I am married. I have a daughter.”
Interviewer (KN): First of all, would you mind telling us about your bound with Konya?
Vedat Milor (VM): Although I lived in Istanbul during my childhood and teen ages, I was raised by my grandfather and grandmother who are originally from Konya. But, at the moment I do not have any bounds with Konya.
"I GREW UP WITH RUMI’S DOCTRINES"
KN: Do you feel yourself as if from Konya?
VM: Absolutely. As my grandfather and grandmother are from Konya, I grew up by learning the doctrines of Rumi and by eating local food from Konya since my childhood. Of course I was not able to fully understand the meanings of these doctrines then, but I was totally affected by the spiritual values of Konya. My grandmother knew about the homemade food such as fermented sausages, fried meat, different kinds of mushroom, pastries, etliekmek etc. came from Konya. She cooked these kinds of food for years and we ate them with real pleasure. (he laughs).
KN: Do you say that “I am from Konya” in anywhere when you have a chance?
VM: Of course. Besides I would like my daughter to see the spiritual values of Konya and experience the atmosphere there. She is 12 now.
When she gets older a little I will take her Konya. My wife is American and she lives with her at the moment.
KN: Your last name sounds interesting. Does it have a story?
VM: My grandfather’s last name was “Mecidiyezade”. He wanted to change it into “Mecidiyeoğlu”. But the authorities refused this demand. Then, he looked up into a dictionary and found the word “Mil”. In order to catch the rhyme he wanted his last name to be “Milor”. “Milor” is a pure Turkish word.
KN: You’ve told that you want to take your daughter to Konya. Do you find the spiritual atmosphere in Konya different from other cities?
VM: Yes. As Konya was the centre of Anatolian Seljuks, it is place where Turkish culture lives. Konya is the best place of central Anatolian. It is the cornerstone of our culture.
KN: When you see a person coming towards you and listen to him/her can you understand that “he/she is from Konya”?
VM: It is impossible for me to understand if he/she is from Konya by just hearing the accent. But, the people who are really from Konya are outspoken and honest.
KN: When your grandfather and grandmother were raising you did they ever talk with an accent from Konya?
VM: Yes, they did. I am familiar with the sayings that belong to Konya but I am not able to fully understand them. Konya’s people have really pure characteristic features. I think it is due to the climate. There is a kind of reliability here.
KN: Although your childhood didn’t pass in Konya, you grew up with a family from Konya. Do you have an aspect of being from Konya?
VM: The people who know me can say that. I find it inappropriate for a person to talk about himself/herself. Because a person is never able to see himself/herself as it is.
KN: What do people say for you?
VM: The people who know me say that I am a little copy of my grandfather. (he laughs). So, I am like my grandfather. I am like my grandfather so much that I say myself that so I have an aspect of being from Konya. My point of view about life, my evaluation of the things in life, my moral system and my style of raising my child comes from the culture of Konya I think.
"I AM AN AMATEUR"
VM: My hobby turned into a half-job. I call it half-job because I do my job like an amateur. I believe that I am contributing to the culture of food. To reveal the food that is forgotten in Turkey means to reveal the culture itself. As our culture is degenerating means, our culture is also degenerating. Our fantastic food is being forgotten and the people who cook them are vanishing. Most of them aren’t recorded. These kinds of food are not cooked at restaurants and at homes anymore. Revealing these kinds of food makes me feel as if I am doing an archaeological work. As a result, I feel satisfied.
KN: You know that Rumi has 7 advices. Not to grudge, to be modest etc. Do you try to pay attention to these advices in your life?
VM: Of course I have defects. Nobody is perfect in life. I think it will be better for someone to answer your question who knows me.
KN: When someone talks about “Konya” what comes to your mind?
VM: The first thing that comes to my mind is Meram and its fields. (he laughs). I remember the friendship and long conversation nights. I remember those beauties of Meram just like they were yesterday.
KN: Did they ever take you to Konya in summer holidays?
VM: I went there a few times. But, nowadays Konya has changed.
KN: Did you mean a positive “change”?
VM: Yes, a positive change. As Konya is a conservative place people think that it is a reactionist place. Actually, Konya is a very modern and enlightened city.
KN: When we have a look at your past, we see that you had an unhappy childhood. Would you mind talking about it?
VM: I lost my grandfather and grandmother early and this affected me a lot. Also, my mother and my father were separated and this also made me disappointed. As I was always far away from my mother and my father, I always felt a missing of love a lot. After the death of my grandmother, I felt myself lonely.
KN: Do you have any connection with Konya now?
VM: No, I don’t. Unfortunately, my father sold out all our assets in Konya. Do not reopen old wounds now.
KN: In your life have you ever had hopeless moments?
VM: I had times that I was bored and felt suffocated. I had times that I wanted to change my job. But I always trusted in myself. So, I never felt hopeless.
KN: Would you like to live in Konya in one day?
VM: It’s just fate. But, I would like to own a place in Konya.
KN: Do you live in abroad generally?
VM: I don’t always live in abroad. In summers, I am always in Turkey.