My father is from Develi. My grandfather whom I never met, was also from Develi and a succesful businessman. They moved to Ankara when dad was six. Grandpa set a new business in Ankara. Since that time hardly anyone went back to Develi with the exception of a few occassional visits. But not that anyone forgot. My sister Oya and I grew up with stories of Develi, told by grandma and aunty who looked after us when we were young and mom had to work. They told us the daily life in the early 20’s and 30’s, the exquisite food, the camaraderie of neighboors, the closely knit social fabric and its tragic disintegration with the departure of Armenians and the Greeks of Anatolia.
This stunning tiny city is in the foothills of the once active volcano, Erciyes Dağı, in central Turkey. Unless one specifies Kayseri, which is the large city on the other side of this gorgeous mountain not everybody in Turkey knows where Develi is. That should not undermine its importance however. In Develi and its surroundings, there are remains of Hitite, Roman, Byzantine and Selcuk civilizations to the naked eye. This shows the place has been inhabited forever and one can feel it in Develi. Not to be confused with a village, Develi was always a city whose citizens, when they travelled to Istanbul, were not surprised at all!
One of the reasons why I returned to Turkey after becoming almost Swiss, then American citizen (finally none) was because of a search for identity. My life which started in Turkey took me to many far away places around the world, first because of dad’s work abroad and later on because of my education and professional life as a musician. Recently I became more eager to know who was who in the family and the place where they all come from.
I never met my grandpa, Mehmet Sami Pancaroğlu. He passed away when dad was 20 or so. My interest in Develi also grew as a result of facebook! The family name by which I lead my professional life makes it easy for people carrying the same name to find me. This is what happened. Grandpa had left Develi in the early 20th century and had gone to Buenos Aires with his younger brother and they lived there for several years . Eventually they came back to Develi. I have always been fascinated by this adventure, because it must have been truly an adventure. Anyway, his younger brother’s grandson found me on facebook early September this year (now we know the real purpose of facebook!). Kenan abi and I are grandchildren of two close brothers who spent several years in Buenos Aires, then returned to their hometown, set up succesful businesses and then something happened and they were not so close anymore. This made grandpa move to Ankara, which was also something fashionable to do those days. Immigration from a small town to a large city is not a new invention in the history of Turkish Republic. Almost everybody in big cities comes from a smaller place around the country. This is how we lost almost track of the 9 children of uncle Bekir and their 31 children in my generation for all those years.
Kenan abi (one of the 31) is my second degree cousin nd aowns a restaurant in Istanbul where he makes pide, “cıvıklı”, as they are called İn Develi. This is a specialty of of Develi, although many varities of pide are found around Turkey. Cıvıklı is a long, thin pizza which is topped with a mixture of meat ground with a knife, onions and green peppers. Other fine varities of pide in Develi are the closed pide with a filling of walnuts and butter and tahini pide which is an art the details I will share in another blog. Stay tuned for more from Develi.