From the top of the mound you can see the dust of Sadik’s van before the green beast crashes into view — Ayoup’s whistle blows from somewhere and calls of “pidos!” ring throughout the trenches. It’s time.
We slowly wind our way down the incline of Çadır Höyük and make our way to the blue tarpaulin tent for the most appreciated meal of the day.
Having just worked my second season at the Çadır Höyük archaeological excavations in Central Anatolia, I’ve grown to adore the mid-morning ritual. During the short digging season, the archaeologists and students are up and out in the field by 6am — first breakfast is quick and small, consisting of coffee and tea with bread and krem peynir (cream cheese) or Çokokrem (Turkey’s version of Nutella).
By 930am our tummies are grumbling.
Sadik unpacks the meal’s components from carefully stacked tupperware while we gather in a lopsided circle of plastic stools. The morning’s ritual even extends to the order in which the food is distributed, a well-rehearsed dance of meat, cheese and tea.
The circulation starts with the bread that Sadik picks up from the bakery in Sorgun everyday. It’s always flatter during Ramadan, soft leavened and topped with sesame seeds.
Next comes the cheese, the sucuk (the Turkish sausage, which is affectionately known as the ‘pink meat’ in our circle), and the veggies.
Fresh lettuce, cucumber and green onion make their way around and the fragrant black olives are promptly circulated and demolished (big olive lovers at Çadır Höyük).
Sandwiches are stacked and devoured. The lone orange salt-shaker is tossed across the circle to flavour slices of cucumber and hardboiled eggs we crack on our knees and peel with our hands, dusty from hours troweling in the dirt. Cleanliness isn’t important, eating takes precedent at second breakfast.
The piping hot chai is pumped from Sadik’s big thermos into plastic mugs with pictures of unknown flags and beach scenes with seals — the steaming mugs are passed around bucket brigade style until everyone is sipping tea. The plastic bag of sugar cubes come next, bypassed by the strong-willed black tea drinkers and relished by those who go Turkish style with a handful of cubes.
The fresh fruit tupperware contains a different treat everyday: apricots, plums, watermelon or peaches are devoured with the juice running down tanned arms and into laps. No napkins in the field.
Somedays there are cookies (most days there are cookies).
Everyone is equal at second breakfast, gathered together to rest and recharge. Joking, shenanigans, and broken Turkish are always a part of the break.
Then, with a glance at her watch, the director stands up and second breakfast is over.
We are dusty and dirty, and fed.
Back to work.