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Ancient Greeks and a bit of mythology > Keramos August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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Ariadne was the daughter of Cretan King Minos and his wife Pasiphae. She is famous for helping Theseus kill the Minotaur, and later, Theseus promised to make Ariadne his wife. Sadly, Theseus abandoned her on the island of Naxos.

But then, Dionysus stepped in to save her and subsequently married her. Many children came from this marriage, including Oenopion, who Dionysus taught to make wine, and Keramos or Keramefs, who became a potter, maybe creating vessels to hold the wine that Oenopion made.

Today, the word Keramos has come to be connected to the art of pottery and the making of pots from clay.

The Cyclops August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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The Cyclops legend may have its origin in elephant skulls. Two million years ago, elephants were widespread across what is now the Mediterranean, particularly on islands such as Sicily and Crete.

When the Greeks arrived there 5,000 years ago, they would almost certainly have uncovered the fossil remains. Elephant skulls, without the trunk or giveaway big ears, do look rather like the remains of a one-eyed giant.

The huge central nasal cavity, from which the trunk hangs, looks like a socket for a single large eye. The actual eye sockets are very small and on the side of the head.

Greek Frappe > a cold and frothy drink August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes, Greek Food Culture.
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The frappe turns instant coffee into a drink worth lingering over.

greek_frappe.jpg  The frappe, a foamy cold coffee drink, is an easy-to-make beverage that’s wildly popular in Greece.

It started by accident in 1957: A representative from the Nestlé food company couldn’t find any boiling water to make his coffee at an international trade fair in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. So he used cold. And thus was born the frappe, the foamy, caffeine-packed drink that became an icon of Greek pop culture.

Fifty years on, while Americans guzzle innumerable fancy chilly copycats, Greeks remain loyal to their simple cool coffee, imbibing everywhere from the beaches to Athens’ numerous upscale cafes. In fact, the frappe has become its own industry. Supermarkets carry hand-held electric foam beaters, while roadside kiosks keep frappe kits in their fridges. Tips are traded on the merits of thick froth, straw placement, and the best time to drop the ice into the mix.

“Frappe looks so thick, but it glides through the straw so easily,” said Daniel Young, an American food critic who teamed with his wife, Vivian Constantinopoulos, to write a coffee-table book on the subject. It may drink smooth, but it has a kick. Young says many frappes have four times the caffeine as an espresso. And it is fueled by something considered the dregs of the beverage world in many countries, instant coffee.

Frappe is a simple beverage. A spoonful of instant coffee is combined with water, sugar and sometimes milk, then shaken vigorously in a cocktail mixer. When to add the ice, during or after shaking, is hotly debated. The resulting dark drink has a foamy head so large it resembles a half-pint of Guinness more than a coffee.

How the freeze-dried coffee drink became a national craze is hard to say, but supporters insist that it matches Greeks’ erratic lifestyle: laid-back Mediterranean with bursts of energy thrown in.

Young and Constantinopoulos, whose book is titled “Frappe Nation” (Editions Potamos, 2006, $42.95), believe Greeks’ relationship with the drink is rooted in their centuries-old thirst for public dialogue and social interaction. “It doesn’t have to do with quality or quantity, but it is more about the way people sit and enjoy,” said Constantinopoulos, who says the average person takes 93 minutes to drink a frappe.

In fact, coffee shop owners price their products accordingly, charging customers likely to keep their tables for a couple of hours as much as $7.50 for a coffee. Much of frappe’s appeal lies in its longevity. Even as the ice melts, the foam, which contains coffee granules, mixes with the ice, and the drink replenishes itself.

“If you time it perfectly, it will stay consistent throughout,” Young said. “Greeks turned it into something that is supposed to be instantaneous and made it a three-hour ordeal.” “To Greeks, there is no such thing as instant coffee,” Constantinopoulos said.

How to make a Greek Frappe >

Ingredients >
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon hot water
1/2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons milk
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
3 ice cubes

Method >
In a blender or cocktail shaker, dissolve coffee in hot water. Add remaining ingredients and blend or shake until very frothy. Pour into cold glass and serve immediately. Yields 1 to 2 servings, about 1 1/2 cups.

Greeks on the Black Sea at the J. Paul Getty Center August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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The J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles, USA, is hosting until September 3 2007 a fascinating exhibition dedicated to the civilisation of the Greeks at the Black Sea, were they were colonists, conquerors, sailors and merchants.

The first Greeks who ever sailed to the northern shores of the Black Sea, in the first decades of the seventh century BC were pioneers who had the courage to undertake such a risky voyage. The trip was long and difficult, the climate harsh and very different from the pleasant Mediteranean one, the waters unknown. Once they reached the shores, they often conflicted with the violent tribes that lived there. Yet the land was rich in resources, mainly grains, and the sea was rich with fish, so the colonisation began and in a short while the northern shores of the Black Sea were filled with Greek colonies which became important trade centers.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, in colaboration with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg will once again bring to life this fascinating age in Ancient Greek history through an exhibition with 190 works from the Russian’s museum collections, presenting the variety of material discovered in the region. Some of the artworks and objects were brought to the colonies from Greece, others were made by the Greeks who lived on the shores of the Black Sea, while a handful are the creation of the Scythian craftsmen, who rapidly learned the techniques from the Greeks.

The first pieces of this kind were acquired by the Hermitage Museum in 1818, the objects being of great artistic and historical quality, which fueled the interest for more discoveries. Soon systematic arhaeological diggings began, and the Hermitage teams worked night and day, at the express request of the czar. After the Revolution of 1917, the czar’s collection was confiscated by the Soviet state, and the search continued for more artefacts. After the fall of the Soviet Union, all the discoveries made in the region are now property of the Ukraine and exhibited in this country’s museum.

First Contemporary Art Biennale of Thessaloniki August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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At it’s first edition, the Contemporary Art Biennale of Thessaloniki has already proven to be a major art event in the Greek world, drawing not only several prestigious national artists, but also a great number of foreign participants. 

The location is also interesting, as Thessaloniki is historically and extrovert city and cultural centre of the Mediteranean space, a place where art and culture from all over the world are bound toi meet. Using this important heritage, the Biennale is also trying, with great success, to be a place for new art and ideas, from distinct geographical areas and art schools. In the spirit of the 21st century, an European city such as Thessaloniki also tries to encourage and sustain the melting pot of the multiculturalism, the clashing of contradicting ethnic and cultural identities.

According to the organisers, the main characteristics of the Thessaloniki Biennale are>  

  • the choice of new, interesting, original and bold works, many made by young artists, Greek and foreign, who thus have the chance of promoting their ideas and visions
  • the presentation, in a cultural medium of the poorly known, yet talented artists, many of them being virtually unknown even in their own countries
  • trying to offer a bridge of communication and understanding between different artists from all over the world
  • placing the accent on important international issues, changes and crisese, that affect everyone’s life and become subjects for contemporary art
  • establishing partnerships and collaborations between artists and institutions, in order to support the creators, art dealers and experts in promoting contemporary artworks
  • promoting Greek artists as a major part of contemporary European art world.

The Biennale has three sections, each with it’s own curator and title, and more than one hundred artists have already participated or are bound to attend the Biennale, and the sheer number of works is by all means impressive.

Cyprus Church to invest in solar power August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy, Religion & Faith.
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The Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus has announced plans to invest $234m in solar energy

Archbishop Chrysostomos II said the Church would build a factory that would make photo-voltaic panels to capture the sun’s energy. He said proceeds from the investment would be used to provide financial help to clergy and fund other social work.

The government has warned of power cuts in 2008 if the island does not secure additional electricity supplies. The move follows criticism of the state-run Cyprus Electricity Authority’s apparent failure to cope with increased demand during the recent heatwave which triggered power cuts on the island.

The Orthodox Church of Cyprus is among the island’s biggest landowners with sizeable investments in banking, construction, hotels and wine-making.

Related Links > Church of Cyprus (in Greek) > http://www.churchofcyprus.org.cy

Ten images for Ithaca in Athens next September August 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The ten winning entries of the island of Ithaca’s 6th poster competition “Ten Images for Ithaca 2007” with the theme Play, along with 130 finalists, will be exhibited at Fournos Centre for the Digital Culture in Athens for three days.

The exhibition gives design enthusiasts, who didn’t make it to Ithaca, a chance to see the results of one of the most substantial poster competitions in Greece. Ten Images for Ithaca began in 2002 with key objective for young as well as established designers to come into contact with a wider audience. In the 6th competition this year, there were a total of 465 participants with 700 posters from 35 countries.

In the same space, the exhibition “My Favourite Game” will be presented, with posters created by designers from different parts of the world, known mostly for their contemporary progressive style and common work method. These are all designers that more or less work in the outskirts of what we call “experimental design”.

Free and bold, ready to confound designing facts and conventions, thus creating a team that produces cutting edge design, Xavier Antin, Sara De Bondt, Company, Eric Ellis, Oded Ezer, Jare, Richard Niessen and Andrea Tinnes, all give their personal answer to the theme “My Favourite Game”.

Opening > Wednesday 19 September, 21:00
Duration > 19 – 21 September 2007
Operating hours >
 Wednesday 21:00 – 24:00, Thursday and Friday 19:00 – 24:00
Fournos-Centre for the Digital Culture, 168 Mavromichali Street, Athens, tel 210 6460748, 210 6420451

More Information > http://www.tenimages.org