Under the glaring sun of a Saturday afternoon in August, a restaurant in a small eastern Turkish town welcomes its “most valuable customers”.
It is only one of the many establishments across the town where those in need are invited to eat free of charge. This well-preserved tradition has been carried down from generation to generation for decades.
Karakocan, a 70-minute drive north of the centre of Elaz?g province, has attracted attention in recent years for its tradition of offering free food to those in need. For locals, the custom is a way of fulfilling their responsibility to assist the less fortunate.
A group of locals of gathered for a tea in front of the Merkez restaurant in Karakoçan, Turkey (MEE/Zeyneb Varol)
Mehmet Ozturk, 55, the owner and manager of one of Karakocan’s busiest restaurants, Merkez, for nearly 35 years, says he always keeps at least three tables reserved for those in need, …