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A Cooler Coke: Uludağ Portakal

Each Tuesday and Thursday for the next few weeks, we'll be taking a look at alternatives to cokes for the sticky Houston summer that lays ahead.

Although there might be some initial confusion about the provenance of Uludağ Portakal, there's absolutely no question about what kind of soda it is, even if you can't read the strange Klingon writing on the side of the can.

It seems to be some unwritten law of soft drinks that if you put your beverage into an orange can, the beverage has to be orange flavored as well. This actually works to your benefit when in terra incognita. Not sure about the local beverage selection? Choose whatever's in the orange can and you likely won't get any nasty surprises.

Which brings us to Uludağ Portakal. I had no idea when I picked up the can (available at Phoenicia for 89 cents each) where it was from, although I erroneously assumed that the "Portakal" part of the name indicated it came from the Iberian peninsula. But as soon as I looked at the writing, I realized my mistake.

Uludağ Portakal is actually from Turkey. Much as I think Welsh looks like a language that someone came up with as a joke, I think Turkish looks like a humanized form of Klingon. There are lots of accents and diacritical marks and fricatives and velar plosives and the whole language can come across as a bit harsh, which is why I always find it amusing to see Turkish words written in happy, rounded, sans-serif fonts like the ones on the can of Uludağ Portakal I bought.

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All that said, it actually sounds quite refreshing when spoken aloud:

Uludağ Portakal is named after the Uludağ mountain in northwest Turkey, close to the Sea of Marmara. It's been a popular soft drink in that country since 1930, and with good reason. It's like a lighter version of Sunkist or a slightly sweeter and more citrusy version of Orangina. If you like either of those two beverages, you'll love Uludağ Portakal.

The coastal areas of Turkey on the Black Sea suffer long, hot, humid summers just as we do (those lucky bastards in the Mediterranean coastal areas have it much easier), so it makes sense that they've long enjoyed a refreshing, citrusy beverage to make the heat that much more palatable.

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