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Turkey's 'simit' bread officially enters English dictionary

Simit - a popular Turkish pastry, 5 May 2009
Simit - a popular Turkish pastry, 18 April 2009 [Patxi Izkue/Flickr]

The word "simit" has officially been entered into the Oxford English Dictionary, marking a memorable and historic moment to both Turkish cultural influence and fans of the sesame bread.

The popular Turkish pastry, often eaten as a snack or breakfast item with Turkish Çay (tea), has been described in the dictionary as being "a type of ring-shaped bread roll originating in Turkey, typically coated with molasses and encrusted with sesame seeds before baking."

The pastry is a regular sight throughout Turkey, and visitors to the country and particularly cities such as Istanbul and Izmir would see it being sold at bakeries, shops, stalls and street pushcarts.

READ: Turkish coffee hits US streets 

The official establishment of the word into the English dictionary is seen by many to represent a success of Turkish cultural influence, which has been gaining traction in recent years due to the country's cultural outreach in industries such as coffee, tourism, language courses, and even trips to Turkey as part of programmes organised and funded by organisations such as Yunus Emre Institute.

Many aspects of this Turkish cultural influence, however, have not been taken lightly by the country's adversaries and rivals. In Saudi Arabia, for example, one of the kingdom's princes was seen in a video refusing Turkish coffee and calling for a boycott of Turkish products in May, and in August the kingdom's Ministry of Education officially changed the name of the Ottoman rule from "Empire" to "occupation".

More recently, after the Turkish military incursion into Syria – Operation Peace Spring – was launched, many Kurds and supporters of the YPG around the world announced a boycott of Turkish goods.

READ: Propaganda, kebabs, and international sex scandals: Turkey's soft power at play

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