Sunday 23 July 2017

TG4's Hadji Bey documentary a sweet delight

When I was a child, a maiden aunt who hailed from Cork occasionally treated us to Hadji Bey's Turkish Delight from that city -- exotic powdered confections of a sweetness that was almost sickly to young tastebuds but which were contained in a deep circular yellow tin that was beguiling to behold, not to mention extremely useful for the storage of marbles and toy soldiers.

Roseann Foley's Cogar film on Hadji Bey (TG4), presented by Catherine Foley, had the engrossing charm of almost everything made by these sisters.

From it I learned that the sweet shop had been set up in 1902 by Harutun Matmazian and his wife Esther, Armenian Christians who had fled persecution and possible death in Constantinople, later to become Istanbul.

They encountered racism in Cork, too, as their premises were burnt down in 1918, leading Matmazian to write an eloquent open letter entitled 'Live and Let Live' before setting up in business again.

On Esther's death in the 1940s, he emigrated to America, leaving son Eddie to continue running the sweet shop until his retirement in 1970. And now an entrepreneur has revived the Hadji Bey brand.

All of this and more was revealed in this lovely little film.

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