jump to navigation

Greek history and culture celebrated March 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
comments closed

Members of the local Greek community and people with no ties to Greek culture are together at The Multicultural Center of the South, 401 Texas St., Shreveport, enjoying dancing, food and history.

The event, a celebration of Greek Independence Day and Sunday’s Feast of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, kicked off just after 10 a.m. with presentation of the U.S. and Greek National colors and the singing of the U.S. and Greek National anthems.

Events through the close of the celebration, 3 p.m., will include folk dancers, cooking demonstrations, lectures, songs and historical information on Greek culture and the Greek Orthodox Church.

Greece’s Nana Mouskouri honored March 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
comments closed

Last Wednesday evening, marked the decoration of Greece’s internationally renowned singer Nana Mouskouri by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

nana_honored.jpg  Nana Mouskouri with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin

Nana Mouskouri was decorated with the Medal of the Officer of the Legion of Honor, Officier de la Legion d’Honneur. This is even a greater honor than the one she was awarded in 1997 by Jacques Chirac.

About a month ago, on February 28, Nana was also decorated by the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, with the Medal of Higher Brigadier Officer of the Order of Charity.

mouskouri_papoulias.jpg  Nana Mouskouri with the President of the Greek Republic Karolos Papoulias

Singer and humanitarian Nana Mouskouri was appointed UNICEF Special Representative for the Performing Arts in 1993, Goodwill Ambassador, and has actively supported UNICEF through concerts and field trips to Africa, Asia and Latin America. She has visited schools, health and education projects, and spoken out for child rights through the media and in meetings with government officials. Nana Mouskouri has given many concerts to benefit UNICEF, including a special concert in Kenya as part of a private sector fund raising initiative and in Guatemala, where she also presented the annual Communications Award to journalists recognized for their coverage of child-related issues.

Nana Mouskouri participated in several fund raising events for national committees, and gave a concert in Morocco to support girls’ education projects. In addition, she helps promote UNICEF fund raising and greeting card campaigns in Europe and North America.

Nana Mouskouri has sold over 300 millions of records and has been decorated many times. She has also served as a EU MEP and she is still active as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.  Greece and the Greek Nation bows to Nana for representing her native country in such an excellent way and thanks her for what she has achieved so far. All the best for your Farewell Concerts Nana, we are confident all shows will end as smash hits!

Related Links > http://www.nanamouskouri.net 

Greece’s Top performing artist Anna Vissi named Honorary Marshal March 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek, Special Features.
comments closed

In honor of the 186th Anniversary of Greek Independence at New York’s annual Greek American Independence Parade, April 15, which is dedicated to religious freedom.

Greece’s top singer and performing artist, Anna Vissi, will serve as Honorary Marshal. The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York and its 2007 Parade Committee, at a meeting held in Astoria, NY, made the announcement of the Marshals.

anna_vissi_diva.jpg  Top singer and entertainer Anna Vissi

Greece’s Diva will serve as Honorary Marshal at the American Greek Parade. Born in Cyprus, Anna Vissi has sold over 10 million albums worldwide. Since 1995 she has gone 28x platinum. In 2005, she has also enjoyed great success in the U.S., claiming the Number One position on the Billboard Dance Charts with her song “Call Me”.

In Eurovision Song Contest 2006, Vissi and her power ballad “Everything” finished 9th, and won two awards in the categories “Best Song” and “Best Female.” According to Room 210 Greek Magazine, 2004, Anna Vissi is considered “a true diva of the Greek musical stage, a role model for all other performers of similar genres and one who determines all the latest music and fashion trends”.

Anna is by far the best selling female Greek artist of all time with a career that spanning over thirty years. She is known as the “mega-star” constantly appearing on covers and fashion magazines in Greece and the world.

Anna Vissi is currently on a USA and Canada tour. In April, she performs in Connecticut, New York City, Los Angeles, Atlantic City, Chicago, Montreal and Toronto.

Related Links > www.annavissi.info 

City of Syracuse celebrates Greek Independence Day March 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
comments closed

Political leaders in Syracuse, USA, gathered to celebrate Greek Independence Day. March 25th marks the day Greece declared independence from the Ottoman Empire back in 1821. Although the actual day is Sunday, the city of Syracuse celebrated the holiday by raising a flag and declaring Saturday Greece Day in the city.

After 400 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire, Greece declared its Independence on March 25, 1821. The annual Greek American Independence Day parade is held on the closest Sunday to March 25, except during Lenten season, a dual celebration connected with the Greek Christian Orthodox Feast of the Annunciation.

Greek community leaders say Greece and the United States have learned from each other over the centuries.

“Greece and the United States have been linked. The United States was inspired to fight for its independence by, I think, Greek democracy, and in turn, in 1821, the Greeks began their fight for democracy and independence based on what the United States did, and even Congress supported Greek Independence Day,” St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Pastor Father Tom Zaferes said.

Sunday also marks a Greek Orthodox Christian holiday celebrating the Annunciation, the day the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would bear a child. According to historians, March 25th was chosen to start the revolution for this reason.

Vines and wines of Cyprus March 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
comments closed

What make Cyprus a truly glamorous country are the grapes and wines that have been peculiar to the island since far ancient times.

The cultivation of the grapes most likely dates back to the 2nd millennium B. C., if not earlier. Although there were recent archaelogical discoveries, concerning the production of wines in ancient Cyprus, there is evidence due to which the production might be presumed to the late Bronze Age.

No doubt, wine drinking played an important role in daily life, as illustrated on the mosaic of Kato Pafos, dating back to the Roman times in the 3rd century A.D. Cyprus became famous for its wine during the Middle Ages, when the Knights Templar established their Grand Commandery at Kolossi, and made the land in Limassol, Koilani, Avdimou and Pafos their possession as well. Later known as the “Vin de Commanderie”, their own wine was produced. Etienne de Lusignan (1580) even entitled the Cyprus wines “the best in the world”. It is said that the sweet Cyprus wine lured the Ottoman Sultan Selim II to capture Cyprus in 1571.

As it was in the early times, viticulture is still important in these days, much conditioned by the favorable climatic and soil factors of Cyprus. At present, there are more than 23500 hectares of vines, of which 21500 wine grapes and 2000 table grapes, under cultivation, with the annual production of 200 million kilos of grapes. Constituting 7% of the total value of the agricultural production, viticulture makes almost one quarter of the agricultural population and wine products belong to much exported items of Cyprus.

In comparison to the wine grapes which are dry-fed crop, table grapes need irrigating. While wine grapes are grown on hilly and semi-hilly areas of the southern and western slopes of the Troodos Mountains, the table grapes are found on the irrigated plains of Limassol and Pafos. There are some cultivated wine grapes, among which the local varieties, such as mavro, black, that covers approximately 73% of the total wine grape area, or xynisteri, white, that spreads over 14% of the total wine grape area. Malaga, Muscat of Alexandria, Ophtalmo, Maratheftiko, Promara, Spourtico and Kanella are also traditional varieties. Less than 10% of the total wine grape area is covered with the new varieties introduced in Cyprus, such as Carignan, Grenache, Mataro, Palomilo, Riesling, Malrasia and many more. Replanting of the vine area is allowed only within the traditional viticulture regions and expanding of the area planted with vines is forbidden.

The area of table grapes is planted with sultana, the white seedless variety, covering 85% of the total table grape area, cardinal 5%, perlette 4% and gold 1%. When cared for properly, sultana gives the large berries also known as Thompson Seedless grapes that are mostly exported abroad.

Wineries using up approximately 70% of the island’s grape production process the grapes into wine and other wine products. There are a number of wines made of different kinds of grapes, ranging from dry white and red wines to medium dry and sweet, cherries, brandies, or the famous Commandaria.

Commandaria > This sweet wine was entitled “the apostle of wine” by King Philippe Augustus in 1223 or earlier. Commandaria, bearing the name of the area where the wine was produced, was soon well-known in the neighboring regions and countries. The area was run at that time, by the Order of Templar Knights who bought the island from Richard the Lionheart in 1192 and soon they sold it to Guy de Lusignan. After the Templars built the Kolossi Castle, the Knights of the Order of St John came to Cyprus in 1210 and seized the neighboring estate, known as the “Grand Commandery”. Soon the Templars dissolved and the area was taken over by the Knights of St John, who then mastered the entire area around Kolossi and named the wine “Vin de la Commanderie”.

Ever since the name of the sweet wine is closely connected with this area and even the procedure of the production has remained until present days. As for the method of production, and the significance of the origin, Commandaria is the wine with a truly old tradition worldwide. It is considered the pioneer of the notion “appellation of origin”.

The main wine activity is concentrated in Limassol. There are also small wineries found in Koilani, Agia Mavri winery, Agios Amvrosios, Ecological winery, Statos-Agios Fotios, J. Efstathiou winery, Arsos, Laona winery, Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery, Monte Rogia winery, Anogyra, Nikolaides Bros winery, Omodos, Olympus wineries, Pafos, Pekris winery, Pelendri, Pitsilla Regional Winery and many more. The wineries mentioned are open to visitors.

The Cyprus Cuisine March 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus.
comments closed

Wherever you are in Cyprus, you’ll come across kleftiko, oven-baked lamb, Greek in origin and mezedes, dips, salads and other appetizers. Cyprus is also famous for its fruit, which the government protects with a ban on imported products. You’ll find strawberries, stone fruit, melons, prickly pear, citrus and grapes among many other.

Cypriot cuisine has been influenced by different cultures throughout history. Each dish has a unique taste and is well presented reflecting the Cypriot character. A few traditional dishes are the following: Dolmades, vine leaves stuffed with rice, chopped meat, onions,  tomatoes and herbs. Souvlakia, marinated lamb, skewered and grilled over charcoal, Sheftalies, chopped meat with spicy herbs wrapped into caul fat and grilled over charcoal. Mousakka, layers of mince, potatoes, and aubergines baked in the oven with cheese topping anc bechamel creme, Greek in origin.   

Many dishes vary from region to region making Cyprus a fascinating place to eat. Local dishes are delicious, particularly the meze. This is a specialty of Cyprus and consists of a large number, over 25 or 30, of cold and hot hors d’oeuvres such as different salads, meats, vegetable, and fish dishes. It is taken either as an appetizer or a main course.

Among some interesting dishes that can be found in Cyprus belongs kolokasi, a root vegetable which when cooked has a texture of potato, with sweet taste. What is extraordinary about this dish is that it was brought to Cyprus by the Venetians. Due to etymological meaning Colocasia esculenta means “elephant’s ears”, because that is what the leaves of plants look like. Kolokasi is usually served with chicken or meat.

The Cyprus coffee is exactly similar to the Greek coffee. The secret of making Cyprus or Greek coffee is that the coffee beans are ground into a fine powder and then it is cooked together with or without sugar producing a thick cream on top. The coffee is served in small coffee cups, and always served with a glass of iced water. One is always asked before the coffee is brewed which type he/she would like. There are three different basic types. Sketos, without sugar, metrios, with some sugar and glykos, a sweeter version. 

The coffee should be as fine as possible. Put one dessert-spoonful of the powder into a small pot, called briki, with as much sugar as you like, and add one demi-tasse of boiling water. Allow the coffee to boil up and then immediately remove it from the heat. Repeat this process three times, and pour it into the coffee cup. The grains must be given time to subside in the cup before you can drink the coffee and it is helpful to stroke the froth in the cup gently as you wait. 

When the coffee is finished quite a lot of black sediment will be left in the bottom of the cup, and a favourite pastime it to tell fortunes in the grains. The ladies are especially good at this. You are asked to tip your cup upside down on the saucer, so that the grains can run down the sides of the cup forming patterns. After a suitable pause, the cup is scrutinized by the expert and your future is revealed. Some of the predictions are highly amusing, some sinister and ominous!

Cyprus cuisine includes a great variety of vegetable dishes, grills, pastry, fish, soups, and many more. 

Olive oil produced from the trees prominent throughout Cyprus, adds to the distinctive taste of Cyprus food. Many dishes use filo pastry. Traditionally, Cypriot dishes are served warm rather than hot as eating food too hot was deemed unhealthy.

Brandy Sour > Brandy Sour is the drink of Cyprus. It combines local brandy with the fresh tang of Cyprus lemons. The ingredients used are lemons squash, brandy, angostura, soda and lots of ice cubes.

Pastitsio > This pasta or macaroni dish, is loved by all, the young and old. It’s delicious to be eaten right after baking. Although the preparations stay the same, the ingredients of course vary from those of Mousakka, as often the two dishes are wrongly considered similar. In Cyprus, the special ingredient includes halloumi cheese, cinnamon, bechamel sauce and nutmeg.

Halloumi Traditional Cyprus Cheese > This is a special cheese, made only in Cyprus. Halloumi cheese can be eaten as a fresh product as such, can be eaten grilled on both sides until golden brown and can also be used as a topping, when chopped, on pasta. The slices of Halloumi, when eaten grilled, are served on a warm plate and just add fresh lemon juice on them and eaten with toasted pita bread.

There’s nothing lighter, more refreshing or tastier than Halloumi, grilled or fried until it’s beautifully brown and served alongside a combination of crisp lettuce, raddiccio, fresh Cyprus tomatoes and olives. Add some pita bread, a glass of fresh Cyprus orange juice and you have a meal that will brighten up your day. 

The Trojan Women making a wise choice March 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
comments closed

Greece is hot, and we’re not just talking Athens in August. Actors and directors are reaching back to ancient Greece to find the elemental truths of war to illustrate the war we’re now fighting in ancient Babylon. 

Actress Kathryn Blume exhumed Aristophanes for her various performance pieces based on the Greek playwright’s anti-war comedy “Lysistrata.” Now, Champlain Theatre and director Eric Ronis are tapping into the Euripides tragedy “The Trojan Women” to show the toll war takes not on the aggressors but on the innocent victims, the women and children who become the collateral damage of war.

The Champlain Theatre production that opened Friday demonstrates both the timelessness of Euripides’ message and the dated nature of his material. The theme that the damage caused by war extends beyond soldiers and buildings is crystal clear, even if the fine details of Greek/Trojan politics are not so obvious to our modern sensibilities. The wrenching, emotional construction of Euripides’ tragedy is also foreign to our 21st-century eyes and ears that often search for something more subtle and unspoken in a work of drama.

“The Trojan Women” begins at the end of war. The Greeks have seized Troy, the Trojan men are dead and the Trojan women are left to fear for their futures. Hecabe, the former Queen of Troy (played by Ruth Wallman), stands at the center of this uncertainty, surrounded by a classically mournful chorus of Trojan women (Joyce Flanagan, Claire Beal-Brown, Eva Sollberger and Alex Sevakian).

A duty-bound Greek officer named Talthybius (Jim Reid) gives the women their marching orders. Hecabe faces a life of slavery. Her daughter, Cassandra (Katya Haratonik), becomes the spoils of war awarded to the Greek King, Agamemnon. The infant boy of Hecabe’s own son, the Trojan hero Hector, is literally torn from the arms of his distraught mother (Kelly Jane Thomas) to face an even worse fate.

Ronis made a wise choice in keeping “The Trojan Women” completely in its historical context and not shoe-horning the time-specific play into a camo-and-helicopter-filled modern send-up, as many directors try to do with classic works. Kudos also to Ronis and his fellow set designers Jolene Renaud and Kyle Neidig, who lay out a scene of austere devastation, including a ghostly backdrop of torn sheets and a pile of bricks that tells us war has passed through Troy with its hideous hand.

Unlike the bulk of Shakespeare’s works, or even the highly dramatic Euripides’ play “Medea,” “The Trojan Women”, translated by Richard Lattimore, is too melodramatic for its own good. The scene in which Cassandra is taken away toward Greece is overshadowed by histrionics, “I am ridden by God’s curse still!” Cassandra wails. Yes, “The Trojan Women” is a tragedy, and it lifts the carpet to look at the radiating effects of war that we often try to sweep away. But it’s all too grim to leave us with strong feelings. “The Trojan Women” is a 90-minute lament.

Blessedly, a moment that changes the dark-brown tone of “The Trojan Women” arrives about two-thirds through the play, as Helen (Alison Caton) pleads with her husband, Menelaus (Joshua Brinn), not to be brought back to Greece to face certain death for betraying him. Actually, she doesn’t plead as much as she flirts by using that face that launched 1,000 ships, not to mention purposeful glimpses of leg and cleavage directed toward Menelaus. Caton, a third-year student at Champlain College, gives a winsome if brief performance. Wallman, who as Hecabe argues against sparing Helen and her “figure fastidiously arranged,” is the glue of “The Trojan Women,” and this scene allows the veteran actress to show some colorful, spry sarcasm that adds depth to her sharp portrayal of the strong but emotionally wounded former Queen.

Just as quickly as that scene arrives, though, it ends, and “The Trojan Women” returns to its bleakness. Of course war is bleak, but a play that does nothing but hammer home that bleakness runs the risk of hammering its audience into stunned submission. “The Trojan Women” doesn’t inspire or enrage us as much as it suffocates us with the heaviness of endless tragedy.

Euripides’ “The Trojan Women,” presented by Champlain Theatre, 8 p.m. today and Sunday; and Thursday-Saturday. At the Alumni Auditorium, Champlain College, Burlington, Tickets $14, Information 651-5962, www.champlain.edu