As 2013 came to an end, we said goodbye to Muhtar Katırcıoğlu, a good friend of ours and a strong supporter of Slow Food, who sadly passed away.
We first met Muhtar in the late 1990s, as we were putting together the international jury for the Slow Food Award. We were looking for jurors who were experts in their countries, and their task was to provide nominations for the award. The aim of the award was to give visibility and reward those farmers, fishers, researchers, chefs and professionals that were working to save even the tiniest piece of biodiversity.
Muhtar perfectly matched the juror profile. He was born in 1928 in Egypt of Turkish background and graduated from the English School of Cairo. His first trip to Turkey was for a stint at the military academy, after which he went to England for one year in preparation for university. He studied politics, economics and philosophy at Merton College at Oxford, and completed his post-graduate studies in agricultural economics. He returned to Turkey to do his military service, after which he worked for various companies like Ford, Unilever, Singer and Shell. Shell, in fact, was his last contact with the sales and marketing environment.
He retired early, following the petroleum crisis of the 1970s and decided to set up a company to deal with his true passion: antique maps and prints. This was his “job-hobby” when we met him. His vast and deep knowledge of geography, cuisine, gastronomy, agriculture and his love for Turkey and its inhabitants (beginning with his wife, Julia, whose intelligence, culture and grace remain in our memories of our visits) made him one of our main points of reference in this beautiful country. When informed of the news, Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini claimed that “our movement has lost a bright, refined and cultured person who played a pivotal role to establish and develop the Slow Food network in Turkey.”
Rest in peace, Muhtar. We are forever grateful for what you have taught us.