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Greek festival celebrates church’s growth October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Greek folk dancers, music and lots of Greek food. This is the second festival hosted by the church, and this time the church has its first full-time pastor as well as a permanent home.

Before they moved to the current location, services had been held at an office complex on MacFarland Road and at Vickery Creek Elementary School.

Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene was founded in 1997 when members who traveled to Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Marietta and the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Annunciation in Atlanta desired a closer church home. Parishioners bought the first land for the church here in 2000, then acquired the acres last year where the church building is located. Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene now owns 15 acres in an area of fast-growing south Forsyth south of Ga. 20 and west of Ga. 400.

Parishioners are encouraged to leave their worries at the chuch narthex before entering the intimate chapel, adorned with candles and a large icon image of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene. It seats only 82 people, but the remodeled building is only one phase of the church’s growth.

Proceeds from the Greek Festival will be used for expansion of the church sanctuary pending approval from Forsyth County.

Food: Be sure to try the Koulourakia cookies. Fifteen bakers assembled at the church’s community center recently to make 2,000 for the festival.
Fun: In addition to lots of Greek food, the Cumming Greek Festival includes music, dancers and a kid’s play area.
The basics: The festival will be held 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Most food items range from $1-$5. Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Greek Orthodox Church, 3074 Bethelview Road, Cumming. 770-781-5250, www.stsrni.org.

Shrimp in tomato sauce with fetta cheece > recipe October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/2 cup finely diced tomato, drained in a colander for 5 minutes
2/3 cup coarsely grated hard feta cheese (If you leave feta cheese uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, it will dry a bit and can then be easily grated.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until soft.
Add the pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
Add the shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes, or until they start to become firm.
Add the tomato and salt to taste and cook for 2 minutes more, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
Transfer to a baking dish or four individual gratin dishes.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly; sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Sprinkle with the parsley and serve (with a bottle of Greek wine).

Serves 4

Eat Greek and live longer October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece.
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Nowadays, Greek food available to the general public matches the quality of food Greeks cook for themselves at home. Ingredients of high quality are put together so that each may shine, with the role of oil only to act either as the cooking medium or a final flavoring.

Fresh ingredients, like fish, are cooked fast. Dried ingredients, like beans and lentils, are slowly stewed in rich tomato sauces to make comforting, nutritious one-dish meals to eat with a salad.

What does this treatment sound like to you? The so-called Mediterranean diet that nutritionists promote as so healthy? Absolutely. And why not. Greece may be bound on the west by the Ionian Sea and on the east by the Aegean. But the greater surrounding ocean is the Mediterranean.

And the best of its cooking follows the same principles that apply to the foods of the other countries bordering that sea: Buy locally where possible; cook seasonally and simply, with fresh, not processed, ingredients; add layers of flavor with herbs and spices. The perfect recipe for healthy eating.

All it takes for a hard-pressed cook to put fresh food on the table, says Greek cookbook author and food writer Aglaia Kremezi, is organization.

She should know. She and her husband sit down every day to a three or four-course lunch. Their suppers are light. Sometimes it’s worth the investment in time to devote a morning or an evening to preparing ahead a whole batch of stuffed or stewed vegetables that she brings out over the week as the prime dish or as a side with something quickly grilled, or reworks to go with pasta or rice.

But for the most part, meals are simple and quickly composed of a dip, perhaps, to begin; a salad; a grill; some fruit and cheese. “If you eat fruit and vegetables you don’t have to eat all those foods that are filled with calories.” And their tastes are so much more satisfying.

From years of writing about international news, she came to food writing via lifestyle journalism because, “I saw in the 90s all these books on Italian cooking and thought Greek food is not so different.”

Kremezi was part of the team that helped establish the menu at Washington restaurant Zaytinya, which features the “mezze” small plates of Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods meant for sharing.

She was in Washington this week, adding recipes from her latest book, “The Foods of the Greek Islands: Cooking and Culture at the Crossroads of the Mediterranean” (Houghton Mifflin, $35.00) to Zaytinya’s menu and promoting the quiet revolution that has been taking place in Greek wines.

Kremezi has no compunction about drinking wine with her lunch. “I am a little hyper,” she explains, “so the wine calms me down.”

The Greeks have been making wine since around 1600 BCE. But it might be thought, judging from the most common retsinas familiar to foreigners, that Greeks from Dionysus down had no palate. Dionysus was the ancient Greek god of wine and is the name of one of the largest importers of Greek wines in the United States, based in Lorton, Va.

But what applies to Greek food applies to Greek wine: Greeks in private have been eating and drinking exceptionally well for centuries. Now they’re letting the rest of the world join in.

Since 1971, when Greek wine producers adopted the strict European Union rules governing the Appelation system, their wine trade has grown. Small producers are crafting wines from local varietals with ancient pedigrees and unpronounceable (to a non-Greek) names, like Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko and Thrapsathiri. If you drank them blindfolded, you might think you were sipping pinot grigio or a Côtes du Rhône or a Bordeaux blend. Their prices confirm otherwise. 

Onassis prizes go to physicist, Greek studies centers abroad October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Greece News.
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Dimitris Nanopoulos and three institutes receive the latest awards

The Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice, is a building designed by Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena.

Physicist Dimitris Nanopoulos and three Greek studies institutes abroad received Onassis International Prizes yesterday at the Athens Concert Hall.

The winning institutes are the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice, the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard and the National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

The board of the foundation decided not to award culture prizes in the four categories of original play, choreography, musical composition and painting.

“Despite the generally high level of the participants, some of which were excellent, we did not find candidates that would enhance the institution,” said Stelios Papadimitriou, president of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.

Papadimitriou said that that this may lead to an overall review of the prizes, and the frequency with which they are awarded.

The Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice is the only institution Greece has abroad and it has inherited the unique treasures created and collected by Greek refugees after the fall of Constantinople. The Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard is one of the most important international centers for the research of ancient Greek civilization and ancient Mediterranean civilization in general. And the National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research at La Trobe University is the world’s largest center for the study and research of Greek civilization. The three institutions were represented by their directors, Chryssa Maltezou, Gregory Nagy and Anastasios Tamis, respectively.

Nanopoulos, a professor at Texas A&M University, has focused his research on particle physics, cosmology and the formulation of a unified theory of everything. He has written more than 520 papers, and in November 2001 was listed as the fourth most frequently cited high-energy physicist by SPIRES, Stanford University’s public information retrieval system.

Distinctions were noted in the culture categories.

In the original play category, Greek Asterios Tsirkas was cited for “Me fovo theou” (With the Fear of God), American Nick Patricca for “The Defiant Muse,” Italian Alfredo Balducci for “Un’ipotesi su Jean Jacques Rousseau,” and American Thomas Riccio for “Inuit.”

The distinctions for choreography went to Spaniard Inmaculada Rubio Tomas (“Pending Contact/While Awaiting”) and Dane Henrik Kaalund (“4”).

German Soren Nils Eichberg (“4”) and Felipe Perez Santiago (“Eppur si scende”) from Mexico received distinctions for original musical compositions for choreography.

The four distinctions for painting went to Greek Giorgos Rorris, Serb Sejma Prodanovic, Latvian Ingmars Usas, and Pole Tomasz Musial.

The distinctions carry a purse of 15,000 euros apiece.

The Onassis awards today in Athens October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Greece News.
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President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, will today honor the four winners of the Onassis Foundation International Awards for cultural or environmental achievements.

The Onassis Foundation announced late on Monday that the awards, worth 160,000 euros each, will go to Greek theoretical physicist Dimitris Nanopoulos and to the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice, the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University in Boston, and the National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Rigor and sensitivity in images October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Mexican photographer Augustin Victor Casasola captures the country in the early 20th century

In a portrait taken by the renowned photographer Augustin Victor Casasola in the early 20th century, Emiliano Zapata stares out with a determined, fiery gaze. This portrait of one of the most legendary figures in 20th century history takes the viewer back to the first social revolution of the century and a turbulent period in the history of Mexico, a time of revolution, civil war and radical social transformations.

Casasola documented these changes with the rigor of a news photographer (he is thought to be the first Mexican photojournalist) and the sensitivity of an artist. “Mexico. The Revolution and Beyond: Photographs by Augustin Victor Casasola, 1900-1949” the title of a large exhibition on show at the Pireos annex of the Benaki Museum, demonstrates the significance of his work both for its historical, documentary value and artistic aspect. The exhibition is organized by the Photographic Archives department of the Benaki Museum in collaboration with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and the National Photography Library of Pachuca, Mexico. It is taking place the occasion of the 13th International Month of Photography, the established annual photographic event which is organized by the Hellenic Center for Photography.

A selection of 92 photographs from the National Photography Library of Pachuca, where the Casasola archives are housed, is wonderfully displayed by the exhibition’s curator Pablo Ortiz Monasterio (a photographer and co-author of the book that has the same title as the exhibition and is available at the Benaki) in two chronological sections: the “Porfiriato” period, which is when the dictator Porfirio Diaz ruled the country, and the period of the Revolution.

Casasola’s photographs depict a world filled with commotion, instability and a overwhelming sense of raw energy. They capture demonstrations, battles, firing squads and even the brutal scenes of executions. One of those scenes actually captures the very moment when the condemned men are struck by the bullets and fall in the cloud of gunsmoke.

The images, even those taken after Zapata’s murder in 1919, are all intense and utterly pragmatic. Something is always happening in his pictures; at moments the viewer may feel that he is watching a film instead of viewing still images.

The photographs encompass the full range of Mexico’s social and political life. Casasola photographed everybody: Porfirio Diaz (he was his personal photographer and actually traveled to Veracruz to photograph him in exile) and all the iconic figures of the Mexican Revolution, among them Francisco Madero, Victoriano Huerta, Pancho Villa and Zapata; figures of Mexico’s artistic and intellectual milieu such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and the exiled Russian Leon Trotsky; and the anonymous soldiers and peasants who fought with the revolutionary forces, crowds of civilians and popular entertainers.

Most of the half-million plaques at the Casasola archives are portraits, a genre for which the photographer is renowned. One of the most unusual and moving portraits included in the Benaki exhibition is that of Maria Zavala, a woman who fought with the revolutionaries and was known for offering solace to dying soldiers. The picture of “La destroyer” which was Zavala’s nickname, was taken in 1915.

There are also plenty of portraits of the anonymous crowd; each of them is a penetrating portrayal of Mexico’s social and political reality. The portrait of a woman behind prison bars from 1935, for example, alludes to the political corruption and the decadence in the country’s judicial system at the time.

From Zapata’s portrait of 1916 down to the portraits of the late 1930s that show people of the underground arrested by the police, Casasola’s pictures expose injustice and corruption. Even though they do not take up a clear political position but engage in the more distanced, “objective” viewpoint of reportage, they are a vital testament to Mexico’s modern history and an investigative expose of the political and social turmoil that shook the country during the first decades of the 20th century.

At the Benaki Museum (138 Pireos street, tel 210 3453338) to December 3.

Greek cast performs South African play October 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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Award-winning Sotigui Kouyate directs Can Themba’s ‘The Suit’ > Bessy Malfa stars in the production, which will open tomorrow

The story of a love triangle, set in 1950s apartheid-era South Africa, will come to the stage of the Knossos Theater as Can Themba’s play “The Suit” opens tomorrow.

Performed for the first time ever by an all-white cast, a conscious choice of award-winning director Sotigui Kouyate, the play also bears the signature of world renowned theater producer and director Peter Brook, who first brought it into the international limelight.

Can Themba spent a large part of his short life, he was born in 1924 and died of alcohol-related problems in 1968, in Sophiatown, near Johannesburg in South Africa, before it was ravaged by the authorities. After attending the University College of Fort Hare, he wrote articles for Drum Magazine in the 1950s, as part of a group of black activist journalists. In the 1960s he was exiled to Swaziland, where he eventually died. His work was banned in South Africa from the mid-1960s and only became available to the wider public in the 1980s.

“The Suit” went beyond English-speaking audiences for the first time in 1999: Peter Brook included it in his repertoire, when dedicating an entire season of his Bouffes du Nord theater to South African theater, as Kouyate explained at a press conference held at the French Institute in Athens earlier in the week. That production, featuring Kouyate in one of the roles, was such a success that it ran for three years and toured Europe, North and South Africa, Asia, USA, Latin America and the Middle East.

“Brook was the one who suggested I should stage it in Greece,” said Kouyate. “I said I wanted to, but I wanted to do it with Greek actors. I was told I could find Africans in Greece who spoke Greek, but I wasn’t interested. This play is a statement on racism, even more so when performed by white actors. Brook gave his approval for this play to have a white cast for the first time and said it was only for Greece.”

Brook, who was also in Athens a few months ago for his production of “Sizwe Banzi is Dead”, performed in early June at the Ilissia Denissi Theater, met the Greek cast which consists of Lambros Tsagas, Bessy Malfa, Yiannis Stamatiou and Costas Kladis. Kouyate, who has been a close collaborator of Peter Brook’s for over 20 years, said he based his direction of “The Suit” on that of the latter. Translated by Louiza Mitsakou, the production will also feature traditional African music selected by Brook.

The play tells the story of a menage a trois, between a man, his wife and her lover’s costume. “On the one hand, it deals with problems that couples face all over the world and that everyone handles in his own way. On the other hand, it is about our inability to understand where our limits are and where we should draw the line, which breeds the lack of tolerance and hate. This leads to the great question: Does it require a huge effort to reach acceptance and forgiveness? And even if we are willing to accept and forgive, what if our ability does not extend as far? Where does our weakness come from? There is no answer to that, but it is a question I ask every day. We must never lose hope,” said Kouyate. “The play’s theme is universal. It goes beyond the apartheid and is about all those repressed and excluded, because, for one thing, it explores the boundaries between people.”

“The most important thing in this play is freedom, on all levels,” added Bessy Malfa.

Kouyate talked very warmly about the strong bond he feels he has with Greece, because of the close friends he has here. His first contact with Greece was his meeting with actor Georges Corraface, current director of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, in 1985, while performing in Peter Brook’s “Mahabharata.” “There are incredible similarities between the Greek and African cultures,” added Kouyate. “One of my predecessors, the first ‘Kouyate’ in the 13th century, celebrated to this day, had his leg tendons cut. It reminds me of the story of Oedipus, who spent his life tortured by his injured legs although it was for different reasons.”

At the Knossos Theater, 11 Knossou Street and 195 Patission Avenue, Athens, tel 210 8677070 and 210 8624463.