Pasta Flora

pasta flora

Greek society

The Greeks were the pioneers in so many fields – athletics, astronomy, biology, philosophy, theatre, geography, medicine among others – that it is easy to take them for granted, to see their achievements as simply part of the human make-up.  But what makes us modern  today frequently stems from the Greek experience.  With the Greeks, Western literature began on an unparalleled high with Homer,  still being translated anew today.  With the Greeks Western medicine, with its Hippocratic oath, began, as did Western theatre (and so, by extension, cinema).  With the Greeks formal mathematics, astronomy and geography emerged for the first time.  Competitive sport, too, first sprang up in recognizable form in Ancient Greece.

The Greeks were not omniscient or infallible.  In early years they borrowed what they needed from their older, often richer neighbours.  They were certainly not the richest or most powerful people in the ancient world, but they influenced those who were, including the Romans later.  Greek life, which centered on the polis, the often tiny city-state, was simple but lived with passionate vigour in a spirit of keenest competition.  “Nothing in excess”, the god Apollo’s famous maxim, was needed in a turbulent world in which men often sought everything in excess.  The Greek world had its dark sides.  Women were excluded, at least in the classical period, from all public life.  And male citizens’ frugal leisure depended on the labour of slaves, whose status was seldom questioned even by philosophers.  But women and slaves were no freer in many comparable societies, at the time or later, that have never begun to rival the Greeks’ contribution to human achievements in so many spheres. extract taken from here Continue reading

Sour cherry spoon sweet

Sour cherry spoon sweet (640x427)

The Greek language

Let us guide you through a wonderful journey into the magic of an exceptional language the Greek language.  Seen from every aspect, the Greek language is one of the richest, most accurately structured and logical languages of all times.  It is a language that every word has a meaning and a reason for its existence.  There is a direct connection between the “word” and the “meaning” of the word.  At the same time it is considered a rather difficult language for a foreigner to comprehend and learn.  Thus one often uses the expression “it’s all Greek to me”.  Yet, once you take a closer look you will see that you already speak Greek, you just don’t know it.  One out of four words in the English language is Greek or of Greek origin.  When it comes to medical terminology, more than 50% of the words or the word elements used, is Greek.  Let us start with the “Alphabet”.  It is the absolute word “Alphavita” which describes the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Vita.  Are you familiar with words such as analysis, angel, atmosphere, automatic, bible, cinematography, democrat, diagram, diploma, echo, ecstasy, ethics, galaxy, grammar, gymnastics, hormone, hypocrite, icon, idiom, kinesis, logistics, lyric, marathon, mechanic, megaphone, monopoly, nausea, neon, oil, Olympics, pathology, phenomenon, philology, phobia, phrase, physics, practical, protein, rhapsody, scene, sphere, sympathy, thesaurus, trauma, utopia, zone.  Do you ever use Greek prefixes or suffixes in your vocabulary such as tele-scope, astro-logy, electro-cardio-graph, thermo-meter?  Then, you speak Greek, you just don’t know it.  These are only a few examples of the 40,000 Greek words that are used today in the English language.  So is it really all Greek to you?  You can read the whole article here.

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Bitter orange spoon sweet

bitter orange spoon sweet

Athens in spring

Spring has stepped in and the streets of Athens are filled with the exuberant aroma of the blooming bitter-orange trees. It is a pleasure to see these elegant little trees in full bloom, standing like happy brides dressed in white gowns in a row on the pavement.  Each year the blooming of the bitter-orange tree marks the end of winter and the joyous coming of spring with the big, translucent and glorious sunny days and the sweet, perfumed nights ‘basking’ at balconies or gardens, or open air summer cinemas that too are full of climbing shrubs bursting from fragrant flowers, mainly honeysuckle and jasmine.  Euphoria, happiness, serenity, tenderness, sentiments emanating from a blessed land. Continue reading

Greek Lenten cookies

greek lenten cookies

“Hedupatheia”

Archestratos of Gela, a Sicilian poet and gastronome, around 330BC through his didactic comic-epic poem “Hedupatheia” (love of pleasure and specifically of food pleasure) parodies everything about the ‘cuisine’ of this period.  It is a complete gastronomic guide regarding where to find the freshest produce, the techniques for cooking them, alternative ingredients that contribute to different tastes and the culinary expertise of various chefs.  A true ‘Master chef’ was firstly an expert in slaughtering sacrificial animal wherefrom derived his ability in expertly treating meat and fish that were the main ingredients in all banquets.   He should, also, be an expert in astrological cosmology, architecture, geometry, natural history, military strategy and medicine.  There were no female cooks but women could be special artisans when it came to preparing desserts and cakes.  Continue reading

Ambrosia

ambrosia

Aphrodite and Eros

Dedicated to those in Love (including Love to Others, Life, Nature, the Universe, etc. (as long as one is – and continues to be – in Love).

EROS was among the first powers of the Cosmos (Creation).  God of attraction and passionate love (one understands readily there would be no life without him).  Forever a child, playful and mischievous!  His mother, Aphrodite, was in Ancient Greece the symbol of love, beauty and sexuality. She brought him to this earth, being the fruit of her love to Zeus, Ares or Hermes.  Aphrodite - according to Hesiod’s Theogony -emerged at the foam of the sea, either that of Kithera or of Cyprus (they both claim her) allegedly when the genitals of Uranus, cut by the Titan Cronus, fell into and fertilized the sea (don’t forget water is an all-creating power).

She was worshiped and had temples everywhere in Greece, both the Divine (divine, ‘spiritual’ love) and the Earth-bound Aphrodite. She also represented fertility and the blooming of nature, hence the arrival of spring.  The pomegranate and the apple were her symbols. Many sculptors portrayed her – amongst them the famous Praxiteles in the 4th century BC.  There are no remains of this statue.  Today we can admire the statue of Aphrodite at the Louvre in Paris which is attributed to the artist Alexandros of Antioch around 130 to 100BC. As well a masterpiece, found by a farmer in his land in the island of Melos in 1820.  Continue reading

Candied orange peel

Candied orange peel

The apples of the Hesperides

Hercules during his 11th labor, according to Greek mythology had been ordered by king of Tiryns, Eurystheus to steal the golden apples of the Hesperides, which are regarded as the oranges of today.  These apples were offered by Gaia (the goddess of Earth) to Hera as a wedding gift for her marriage to Zeus.  Probably that is why oranges are supposed to be the symbol of fertility and a happily married life.  Hera in order to protect the apples entrusted them to the vigilant, hundred-headed dragon Ladon as well as the Nymphs Hesperides.  After many adventures during his travels to the place the sun sets, Hercules brought the golden apples to Eurystheus who refused to keep them. Hercules gave the apples to goddess of wisdom, Athena who returned them back where they belonged since their theft was an impious act.   Continue reading

Melomakarona (Greek Christmas cookies)

Melomakarona

melomakarona

A treat that all Greek families prepare for Christmas. The aroma of the spices lingers in the house and along with Christmas decorations and music an atmoshpere of warmth and integrity is created.  There are many variations of melomakarona, some made with flour only and some made with a combination of flour and semolina with a slightly different, more coarse texture. Continue reading