Turkish Culture I: Biscolata Boys

In Canada, when I tell people about my trips to Turkey, I’m frequently bombarded by comments like these:

“Oh, the boys must be so good-looking there! Like in Spain!”

“Oh my gosh, I went to Turkey, and the men there – mmmpf. It was hard to come back.”

“Go on lots of dates. You can’t have too many Mediterranean men in the world!”

“Sooo….? How was it….?”

It typically comes as a surprise to Canadian women to learn that, at least in my experience, Turkish women do not gaze at Turkish men in the same lecherous way that we are wont to do. Indeed, the ones I know profess rather disparaging opinions towards the looks of the men around them. In the Turkish female mind, the main marks against Turkish men seem to be that they are short, bald, and jealous. (For the record, this disparaging attitude appears to go both ways, but that is a whole nother post.)

As near as I can tell, this attitude is unique to Turkish women. Canadian women don’t think like this, and I have it on good authority that Iranian women (who likely have more real exposure to Turkish men than us Canadians) also think the men here are pretty hot stuff. As for me, I can only say that there is a great deal of variance, like anywhere.

Still, I had to laugh when a friend showed me these commercials for a type of cookie called Biscolata.

As you can see, the videos is basically a series of hot men from Mediterranean countries outside of Turkey promoting biscolata cookies. The commercials were hugely popular in Turkey, and many a Biscolata cookie has been sold using this the-grass-is-more-delicious-and-chocolatey-when-it-speaks-a-romance-language technique.

If you don’t believe me already, YouTube has also produced a “Turkish biskolata” parody video, in which a short, balding Turkish man preens himself in a tree. And since parodies are usually funny because they reflect a cultural expectation, I fear it is the unfortunate lot of Turkish men to work extra hard to, uh, sell their cookies on the domestic market.

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