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Greeks conquer Kraków March 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.
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Greek spectacle rubs shoulders with contemporary theatre in Kraków’s annual theatre festival

‘Greek culture is as difficult as Greek language. Dealing with ancient theatre is a paradox, both experts and artists complicate it to illustrate the full complexity of it,’ laughs classics expert Krzysztof Kielecki. He’s co-organising a series of performances, discussions and lectures presented by European artists in this year’s ‘Re_visions Classics’ theatre festival. Based in one of Kraków’s two most famous theatres, the Old Theatre (Teatr Stary), the Re_visions Classics festival kicked off in January in Krakow and runs until June 2007. It follows on from last year’s ‘Re_visions Romanticism’ theme.

Alongside traditional offerings from Greek tragedians and dramatists such as Euripides’s Medea, there is a play adaptation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s book Thus Spake Zarathustra. The German philosopher played an unprecedented role in the contemporary discourse of Greek tragedy by discussing its role of in his essay The Birth of Tragedy. Experts from all over Europe such as Cambridge professor Simon Goldhill and Warsaw’s Teatr Dramatyczny’s former programme director Małgorzata Dziewulska come together to celebrate classical theatre references in modern European theatre.

With eternally long monologues and a supreme lack of action, Greek tragedies can be challenging to revitalise in contemporary theatre. German director Dimiter Gotscheff admits to having been discouraged. He is currently directing Aeschylus’s The Persians at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, which is also being shown at the festival here. ‘I started to regret directing Persians,’ he says, of tackling the oldest-surviving play in history. ‘It had been three weeks already and I still hadn’t started relating to the piece.’

But Grzegorz Niziołek, literary director at the festival, lauds the earliest playwrights of Western literature who established those very structures which modern artists still use today. The texts were ‘born from different cultures, different ways of thinking about humans, different ways of experiencing fate,’ he says. By turns, it enriches and fascinates the contemporary scene. ‘European culture is thirsty for confrontation with the otherness of the classics. It sheds a strong light on humans, watching a character facing their catastrophe is far more extreme,’ he explains. The classics well described identity problems. By reworking them, we can observe ourselves anew.

The festival draws a parallel with contemporary theatre of cruelty. It’s showing the debut play of a British playwright who infamously committed suicide at 28. Maja Kleczewska’s directs Sarah Kane’s Blasted (1995), where civil war is raging outside a posh hotel room in Leeds, whilst two rapes take place in its stage interior. The setting is far removed from The Persians, who present the enemy fresh from defeating the Greeks. Both plays ask ‘what is the war?’ and put a human face on catastrophe. Gotscheff’s version of the latter presents the Persian protagonists as children. The act of war is reduced to being a game, making the reality of its mortal victims all the more poignant.

Kleczewska points out the fear of ‘being blasted’ that Kane presents has become an everyday experience of European and American citizens. Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison where both Iraqis and dissidents have been tortured is a perfect example of the ‘incomprehensible cruelty’ of Kane’s drama. Her adaptation of the five act play shows how the issues have ‘become the undeniable, a direct threat for our humanity.’


Pistachio baklava > Recipe March 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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This recipe makes plenty, but keeps well in a Ziploc for a few days. It could be cut in half (using just under one box of dough).

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup honey
2 1/8 of an inch slice of lemon
1 stick of cinnamon
3 whole cloves

2 pounds coarsely ground pistachios
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 pounds phyllo dough, about 32 sheets
1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, melted

Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a 2-quart stainless saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat, remove the lemon and spices and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375.

Place the pistachios and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Using the pulse method, process the mixture until it is coarsely ground. Take care to not over process the nuts because they will turn to paste. Remove the ground pistachios from the processor and place in a bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter slowly over a very low heat. Meanwhile, thoroughly combine the ground pistachios, cinnamon and cloves in a bowl. Take four sheets of phyllo dough and brush each sheet with melted butter, layering the sheets as you go. Once the four sheets are pressed together, sprinkle 1 cup of the nut mixture over the top sheet and roll, lengthwise, until you reach the end. Keep the roll as tight as possible without breaking. It should look like a long cylinder. Repeat with remaining sheets, 4 at a time.

Cut the roll into two-inch pieces, and dip each piece into the melted butter and place on a baking sheet. Place into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and with a pair of tongs remove each piece from the pan, dip in the syrup, and place on a cake rack to drain. If the syrup begins to thicken, it can be reheated slightly. Serve in cup cake cups on a platter. Makes 64 pieces.

The Greek Baklava March 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece.
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Like many other food products in Greece, Baklava also originates from the old part of the Greek Empire: Asia Minor, the west coast of Turkey.

greek_baklava.jpg  Baklava consists of several thin layers of filo pastry, which are brushed with butter or oil. In between the layers you find the delicate taste of crushed nuts.

Baklava is extremely sweet, some people might say even too sweet, and can be eaten on its own or served with a small scoop of raisin or pistacchio ice cream. Every pastry shop and grandmother has a special way to serve it.

The sweetness comes from the syrup that is a typical part of many Greek sweets, made of hot water and tons of sugar. After being baked in the oven, baklava gets a good thick layer of this syrup on top. Sometimes the sugary taste of this syrup is given some extra finesse by a dash of lemon juice or rose water.

Greek people love to eat baklava after a meal with a tiny cup of original Greek coffee. It can also be found in the small bundles that are handed out to the wedding guests after the ceremony. The good thing about baklava is that your guests usually cannot eat more that one piece: the high sugar content provides a long-lasting toothache!

But baklava is still irresistible and can be found in several places around the world. The small ethnic food shops sell fresh baklava, with a box of the delicacy costing around €7-10. All the Greek shops and restaurants also serve baklava. Or you can impress your friends by preparing your own baklava from ready-made filo pastry.

Donovan draws a crowd at Greek Embassy March 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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The guest of honor at the Greek Embassy Wednesday night was none other than a folk-singing Scotsman.


Donovan Leitch, known more often by only his first name, burst onto the hippie scene some 40 years ago. Now, he passes his time with art and poetry as well.

Connie Mourtoupala, a spokeswoman for the Embassy, explained that the consular staff noticed an exhibit Donovan showed last year at Georgetown’s Govinda Gallery, a collection of prints he calls “Sappho-graphs”, highly processed, black-and-white photos of his wife, daughter and granddaughter, which often evoke art from ancient Greece. She also said that the folkie spent a lot of time traveling the Greek islands in the ’60s and ’70s and filmed many of his experiences.

Those films played on a loop Wednesday before the crowd of about 200, which included several representatives from other embassies and a handful of Scottish expats. Of course, Donovan also brought his guitar, and regaled the crowd with a half-hour of music, including his songs “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Jennifer Juniper” and “Mellow Yellow.”

Before he left, the troubadour scrawled a poem on a Sappho-graph and presented it as a gift to Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias.

“It was probably the most enthusiasm we’ve had here for any event,” Mourtoupala said.

The Embassy is showing the exhibit for the next two weeks.

Sam’s Place March 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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The scene | Sam’s Place, 116 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach 249-7800

The taste | Sam’s Place is the spot for you if you enjoy seasoned food served in a laid-back atmosphere that has a family-friendly environment. Sam Georgakopoulos, the owner who is Greek, meshes distinctive Grecian flavors together with American flair. The menu items aren’t fancy, but they certainly are tasty. The chicken gyro is delicious, although it may be a tad on the salty side for the salt-sensitive. It is served up with Georgakopoulos’ homemade cucumber sauce. Patrons said the French toast is one of their breakfast favorites. Other popular items include his three-egg omelets, 20 different varieties, including a unique omelet you create yourself, eggs Florentine and fresh biscuits. Georgakopoulos shares cooking duties with Ellis Livingston during breakfast hours, and that is one of the eatery’s busiest times. However, no matter what hour you go, you can find something on the menu to your liking, including tuna salad, a diet-conscious grilled chicken dinner and Greek classics such as moussaka, spanakopita and pastichio. Hot entrees are served after 4 p.m. and include chicken Parmesan, grilled pork chops, chicken kebabs, an 8-ounce ribeye steak and spaghetti and meatballs.

To drink | Coffee, tea, iced tea and soft drinks come with free refills, with the coffee and tea costing $1.25 and the latter costing $1.40 and $1.70. Hot cocoa is $1.25, while sweet milk and chocolate milk are both $1.20 or $1.50.

The price | Prices range from 75 cents for a side of tomatoes to $11.95 for Greek Island shrimp, which are served over noodles.

Hours | 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-4 pm. Sunday.

What to do in 48 hours in Athens > 7 must do March 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens.
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History and hyperactivity live side by side in Athens, the capital of Greece.

At first glance, Athens could be any other major city in the world. Car horns blare and the streets are a hive of activity. But this modern metropolis is a history lover’s dream. The most famous feature of the city is the Acropolis, which is one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

1. Touchdown > Eleftherios Venizelos Airport, http://www.aia.gr is about 33km from the centre of Athens. A regular taxi will set you back about 30 euro and the driver may charge an extra 0,50 for each piece of luggage. Bus services are available 24 hours a day from the airport. Visit www.oasa.gr to see which schedule and times suit your itinerary. Tickets start about 3 euro. Metro http://www.ametro.gr and Suburban Rail http://www.proastiakos.gr is another option, with tickets costing 8 euro.  

2. Sleep tight > Being a major international city, your choice of accommodation is only limited by your budget. There are some decent basic hotel rooms available for about 40 euro a night, such as the Aristotles Hotel http://www.aristoteleshotel.gr. At the other end of the scale are hotels such as the Grande Bretagne Athens  http://www.grandebretagne.gr which will set you back about 285 euro a night. Hostels are also available. 

3. Acropolis now > Known as the sacred rock of Athens, the Acropolis rises 150m above sea level. The Parthenon temple is considered by many to be the most important monument of ancient Greece. It was built between 447BC and 438BC. The other features of the Acropolis are the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Proplyaea. The site is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Admission is about 12 euro but there are days when entry is free. These include national holidays. There will be many tour guides milling around the base of the Acropolis. It is well worth considering getting a guide if you are in a group because they can offer greater insight into this incredible place. For additional information visit http://www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21101a/e211aa01.html 


4. The Plaka > The Plaka is the oldest neighborhood of Athens and one of its most popular. There are plenty of restaurants and tavernas to enjoy and lots of shops. Find a cafe with outdoor seating and enjoy an ouzo and some finger food and relax and watch the people go by. Expect to be stopped by many waiters hoping for your custom. Street musicians keep the crowds entertained. Jewellery lovers should check out the Byzantino store, which has good-quality jewellery at low prices.

5. Stadium arcadium > The Panathenaic Stadium was reportedly created for athletic meets by Lycurgus about 330BC. It was restored between AD140 and AD144. Its most recent upgrade was completed at the end of the 19th century for the first Olympic Games in 1896. The Athens Olympic Stadium is another spot to check out if you have the time. It was built in the early 1980s and was transformed for the 2004 Summer Olympics. It is set to host soccer’s UEFA Champions League final in May. For additional information visit > http://www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21103a/e211ca07.html

6. Heart of Athens > In ancient times, Agora was the focal point for political, commercial, social and administrative activity in Athens. Damaged by the Persians about 480BC and throughout its history, it was eventually abandoned. A number of buildings have been erected at the Agora, including the Temple of Ares and the Odeon of Agrippa, a big concert hall in the centre of the Agora.

7. Night owl > Greeks love a good night out. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Often groups of people will linger for hours over drinks and meze, appetisers. There are plenty of bars and nightclubs to choose from. Galazio is a sports cafe with fabulous sea views, while Le Bar Bodega has been a popular spot for a drink since the 1980s.

Related Links > http://www.gnto.gr/?langID=2

New 7 Wonders > Vote for Greece March 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Vote For 7New Wonders.
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Envisioned by the New 7 Wonders Foundation and presented by the original 007, Sean Connery, the great decision of the New 7 Wonders will take place in Lisbon, at the Luz Stadium, on the 7th of July 2007, the day 07, of the month 07, of the year 07.

This is considered to be the largest worldwide election and is a once in a lifetime opportunity to vote for the New 7 Wonders. 2200 years ago, Greece was the decision pole of the 7 Wonders of the ancient world: The Great Pyramid of Giza, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, The Colossus of Rhodes and The Lighthouse of Alexandria. All of them have been destroyed and history has been lost forever.

The New 7 Wonders Foundation was created to recover and maintain great historic marcs and symbols. It founded by Bernard Weber in 2001, and is now headquartered in Zurich at the Corbusier Museum. Professor Frederico Mayor, UNESCO’s General Manager, put together a scientific team of 7 specialists, to select 21 Monumental World Heritage finalists, created before the 21st century. The 7 specialists were: Cessar Pelli, former General Manager of UNESCO, Harry Seidle, Zaha Habid, Tadao Ando, Yung Ho Chang, and Aziz Tayod. The criteria were social impact, culture, dimension, history and politics, hence the 21 finalists:

– The Acropolis of Athens, Greece 
– Alhambra, in Spain
– Ankor, in Cambodia
– The Pyramid of Chichén Itzá, in Mexico
– Christ Redeemer, in Brazil
– The Roman Colosseum, in Italy
– The Statues of Easter Island, in Chile
– The Eiffel Tower, in France
– The Great Wall, in Chine
– Hagia Sophia, in Turkey
– The Kiyomizu Temple, in Japan
– Machu Picchu, in Peru
– The Neuschwanstein Castle, in Germany
– Petra, in Jordan
– The Pyramids of Giza, in Egypt
– The Statue of Liberty, in the United States of America
– Stonehenge, in the United Kingdom
– The Kremlin and Red Square, in Russia
– The Sydney Opera House, in Australia
– The Taj Mahal, in India
– Timbuktu, in Mali

19 million people have voted so far, by sms, telephone and internet, contributing to the reconstruction of the Buddha’s of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, which is the destiny of half of the election’s revenues. History is in the making, and it is your chance to be apart of it!

Online: www.new7wonders.com (free registration required)

Phone: Call international voting lines or send SMS mobile text message (numbers available on www.new7wonders.com)