Friday, February 6, 2015

Introducing Sofra's Editors: Katherine Belliel

Meet Sofra's Editors. 

I didn't used to like tea. Or yogurt. Or grape leaves. Then I moved abroad. An American residing in the Middle East, I have called Turkey home since 2003. 
It was with both trepidation and excitement that I first visited Turkey in 2000. While love gave me the courage to take the trip, the minute the plane landed in Istanbul, my soul felt like it had come home. I hadn't expected a missing puzzle piece clicking into place. 

Even after subsequent visits and the ending of my romantic relationship, I couldn't get Turkey out of my mind. 

I capture this in my story "Haze" featured in the expat anthology Tales from the Expat Harem (eds. Ashman and Gokmen, 2005.) After graduating from Eastern Michigan University with a B.S. in History, I took a chance and moved to Turkey on my own. Just to see if I could. I not only learned how to drink tea and eat yogurt, but also how to make strong black tea in a two-pot samovar and to make my own yogurt with farm fresh milk delivered to my door. 

A Grand Rapids, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio native, the jump to Istanbul life was a big one, and overwhelming at times. I document my experiences under the pen name "Elle Loftis." Over the past seven years I have written honestly about my life first as a single woman, then as a foreigner marrying a Turkish man, and now as mother to a preschool-aged son. 

Another story of mine, "Instant Mother, Just Add Tea," can be found in the anthology Encounters with the Middle East (eds. Bowman and Kashan, 2007.) Besides writing and editing, I have also taught kindergarten and preschool English for several years. Before moving to Turkey, I was quite shy, but being repeatedly kissed on both cheeks by Turkish people pushed through all personal boundaries. Now I am a personal-space-invader on my visits back to the United States. 

Turkey - the culture, the people, have all nourished me with a myriad of flavors over the years and I am so happy to give back through Sofra. 

What better way to illustrate the stories of expats than with food?

Photo credit: the incredibly talented duo Julia and Martina of Journey Collective, styling by Gipsy Shears.