To boldly go where no kebab has gone before
On 12 April 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin achieved a major milestone in the space race by becoming the first person to orbit the Earth.
Exactly 61 years later, to celebrate Gagarin and the International Day of Human Space Flight created in his honour, a restaurateur from Adana, southeast Turkey, has made his very own contribution to the exploration of the final frontier.
And he gave it a very Turkish flavour - by launching a kebab into space.
Restaurant owner Yasar Aydin, with a little help from local entrepreneur Idris Albayrak, a space engineering student, placed a spicy Adana "pipe" kebab into a special box, designed to endure the extreme temperatures it would face on its journey towards the heavens.
The “pipe” kebab is a new trendy dish in Adana, wrapped around a steel pipe instead of skewers to keep it juicier.
Naturally, Aydin, being a conscientious and diligent restaurateur, also added onion and salad side dishes for the kebab.
They then attached the box, fitted with cameras and a tracking device, to a helium balloon and launched it, hours before iftar, towards the stratosphere, amid applause from a small crowd of curious and somewhat bemused onlookers.
After a flight of about three hours, and at a height of some 38kms above the skies of Adana, the balloon exploded and the kebab began its journey back to Earth, eventually splashing down in the sea off the coast of Hatay, a southern Turkish province, some 121kms from the launch site.
Aydin found the kebab largely intact, except for a few pieces apparently nibbled by fish, no doubt surprised by this literal manna from heaven, but perhaps finding it too spicy for their taste.
“I think aliens sent it back because it had too much pepper. I will send a dish with less pepper next time,” Aydin joked as he vowed to continue his efforts to shoot the famed dish further into space next time.
“I am happy to promote our city and our cuisine. I love being first in something,” he told reporters.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.