The Ottoman Tales VI: Not Much for Victory, but the Eats Were Good

This continues a series inspired (somewhat) by Noel Barber’s The Sultans.  The previous instalment is here.

As Sultan Abdul Hamid raised the Banner Named Barack, his armies had one distinguishing feature:

In one, and only one thing, the Turkish soldier is not cheated. He is well fed, and gets his full allowance of the rations allowed him. The reasons for this are—first, because the contractors for food are almost invariably Moslems, who, whatever their faults may be, do not prey upon the Government in the same manner as do the foreigners, the Jews, and the native Christians of Constantinople. The second reason is, that seeing he is kept months in arrear with his pay, and when he wants a little ready money has to borrow from the regimental ” Svraff,” or paymaster, at the rate of ten per cent, per month—the authorities take care that the line must be drawn somewhere ; and they draw it at the food. Of this he gets his, or rather the Government’s, money’s worth. The contractors for it are nearly always provincials, and these are certainly more honest and honourable in their dealings than their fellow-countrymen on the Bosphorus. The Turkish soldiers, therefore, in ordinary times, are with few exceptions well fed. But to do the Turks justice, it must be said of them, that when by any chance—in a campaign, for instance—their food is not forthcoming, they neither growl nor grumble, but bear their misfortunes like men and soldiers. (H.M. Hozier, The Russo-Turkish War)

At the College of Engineering and Computer Science, our current Interim Dean is the Turkish Dr. Neslihan Alp, who has always kept the morale of the people under her up with food events.  Now we know, it’s the great Ottoman tradition.

Living in this country, she’s also had to deal with Americans who like to “growl and grumble”.  For someone like myself who was born and raised in this country, that’s an embarrassment.

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