Among other things, I have recently moved out of the metropolitan area of Athens to the hills overlooking Marathon, some 40 kilometers away from the center of Athens. The arson fire that devastated the area in 2009 has left its marks on the landscape, a stark reminder that the worst enemy of Greece are the Greeks themselves!

After settling in, I invited the «closed» circle to come over and have lunch «al fresco», in the open fresh air.

As the weather is still good, with temperatures reaching 21 degrees Centigrade, the cooking was done outside as well. Charcoals provided the much needed fire.

I start with the aubergines, or eggplants, which I can eat all the time, every time. I got them from a farmer who is down the road from where I am. I cut them in thick slices and put them in salted watr for one hour. The slices must be thick because they will be grilled and we do not want them to be burned and dried, but soft and juicy, albeit with a carbonated crust.

The pork chops came from the shoulder of the animal, in order to have the necessary marbling. I always prepare the meat by placing it in a mild solution of sea salt and herbs. After two hours the meat is juicier, its color lighter, and it tastes a lot better! If you have not done it before, try it now. With pork! It also works wonders with chicken.

Finally, the «Gardoumbes», lamb’s intestines and sweetbreads on a stick, I got from a local butcher who promised me that they were fresh and local. He even showed me a bag with some intestines that he was taking home after work.

(Χορδήν έτρωγαν οι αρχαίοι Έλληνες, χορδούνιν οι Βυζαντινοί, γαρδούμπα οι Νεοέλληνες)

We now get to the very serious business of the grill. The aubergines need just a coat of olive oil in order not to stick to the grill base. Frequent turns ensure that the surface will be only marginally «burned». There is a very sensitive balance between the brown and the black of the surface, so be careful!

The pork chops also require a coating of olive oil in order for them not to stick on the mesh. The surface must be golden brown and the inside juicy and tender.

I serve the chops on a bed of finely chopped garlic. The combination of the charcoal flavour with the garlic is simply unbeatable. I do the same with the eggplants, adding a bit of vinegar or lemon.

Finally, the «gardoumbes» take a lot of time to cook, and the fire must be relatively mild, otherwise the outside will be dry and the inside uncooked.

All in all, a lunch that honoured the Greek pastoral tradition with pork and lamb, the two animals that have supported the inhabitants of the south Balkan area for centuries.

Today’s dish belongs to the minimalist school, and as such requires tender loving care for the flavors and the textures. It is my own creation, and I am sure that if you like the ingredients, you will love the dish as much as I do.

Although it is the middle of October 2011, I had in the freezer  a bag with fresh string beans and in the middle of a rainy dark day I felt the urge to cook them. I cook them lightly in boiling salted water so that they remain crunchy. I love the texture of string beans and immensely enjoy the crunch. After boiling, I let them cool off in room temperature.

The day before I had put in fresh water two fillets of salted bacalao to desalinate. The marriage was inevitable, even though it was not the result of a plan, but of sheer coincidence. I have learned from my Basque friends to prepare the bacalao in low heat with the skin down, so I cut the fillets in pieces.

Both ingredients are best friends with garlic, so the next step was to chop plenty of garlic. I like very much the combination of garlic and chilli, so I chopped some chilli peppers and through them in a deep pan with the garlic and olive oil.

I place the pieces of bacalao on top and let it cook in low heat, so that all the natural juices of the fish mix with the garlic and the chilli in a mild way that preseres natural flavor to the maximum.

After 10 minutes the fish is ready and there is a fantastic sauce in the pan that is going to dress the beans.

Serve the dressed beans in a deep dish and put on top a piece of bacalao. Enjoy with a «Asyrtiko» white wine from the island of Santorini in Greece.

Aurora – Dawn – Χαραμα

Κυριακή, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2011

Dawn, Kaletzi, Attiki, Greece

The landscape is barren. There are a few burned trees.


But the symphony of colors enveloping the tortured landscape is beautiful, almost magical. And the noise of silence supplements it.


A few minutes later the sun is up. Another day begins. What will it bring? On reflection, it does not matter. I am so mesmerized by the dawn that I almost discount the prospect of the bright light.

Panathinaikos on the Obama – Erdogan agenda

Τετάρτη, 21 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2011

Στη συναντηση Ομπαμα – Ερντογαν στο Λευκο Οικο, συζητηθηκε και η αγορα των μετοχων του Παναθηναικου.

Ιδου η στιχομυθια:

Ομπαμα: Τι χαμπαρια Ρετζεπ;

Ερντογαν: Ολα καλα Μπαρακ, μονο αυτος ο Παναθηναικος μου εχει ζαλισει τους λουκουμαδες.

Ομπαμα: Γιατι ετσι Ρετζεπ;

Ερντογαν: Ηθελα να αγορασω την ομαδα, αλλα μου ζητησαν να βαψω την Τουρκικη σημαια πρασινη!

Salaam Aleikum (*) Panathinaikos!

Τρίτη, 20 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2011

(*) Salaam aleikum means ‘peace be upon you’.

(*) Σαλαμ αλεκουμ σημαινει «πορευου εν ειρηνη».

Και ιδου, εντω μεσω της νυκτος, αλλαζει αρδην η κατασταση! Ο Σαουδαραβας πριγκηπας Σουλτάν Μπιν Νάσερ Έντιν Φαρχάν Αλ Σαούντ θελει να αγορασει τον Παναθηναικο!

Σαλαμ Αλεκουμ Σουλταν!

Κραυγαζει και αλαλαζει η νεα, η πιστη οπαδος της Παναθας και μετα αυτης και εγω, γονυπετης και ενεος. (Προσοχη! Η επιλογη της νεας δια την υποδοχη εν ειναι τυχαια! Ειναι γνωστη η αδυναμια των Σαουδαραβων δια τας ξανθας νεας. Εξαλλου δεν απεχει τουτο πορω και των ελληνικων προτιμησεων, εξ ης και ο πολλαπλασιασμος των αφυσικων ξανθων γυναικων εντος της ελληνικης επικρατειας).

Και μονο η αρμονια των χρωματων της σημαιας της Σαουδικης Αραβιας, σηματοδοτει το ορθον της προτασεως δια το μελλον της ομαδας. Ο Σουλτανος μας ειναι πρασινος και ασπρος!

Πριν συνεχισω με την παρουσιαση της βαθυστοχαστης αναλυσης που εχω ετοιμασει, παρακαλω να αναγνωσεις καλη μου αναγνωστρια το παρακατω αποσπασμα απο το ρεπορταζ της Ναυτεμπορικης, την οποιαν και ευχαριστω:

Την ύπαρξη της πρότασης επιβεβαίωσε ο κ. Γόντικας, ο οποίος υποστήριξε ότι θα ελεγχθεί εξονυχιστικά, ενώ αποχωρώντας από τα γραφεία της ΠΑΕ ο ίδιος ο κ. Τσάκας προσπάθησε να σκιαγραφήσει το προφίλ του Σαουδάραβα πρίγκιπα.

«Είναι ένας νέος πρίγκιπας, 26 χρονών και έχω την τιμή να είναι φίλος μου. Έκανα πολλές προσπάθειες εδώ και καιρό για να πετύχω την προσφορά, και την καταφέραμε. Πιστεύω θα πάμε καλά, η πρόταση είναι ξεκάθαρη», σχολίασε αρχικά.

Στη συνέχεια ισχυρίστηκε ότι ο πρίγκιπας θα έρθει στην Ελλάδα στις αρχές Οκτωβρίου για να συζητήσει ο ίδιος την επένδυσή του στον Παναθηναϊκό.

«Μέχρι τέλος του μήνα, στις αρχές Οκτώβριου ο πρίγκιπας θα είναι στην Ελλάδα. Μπορώ να σας δώσω αύριο το προφάιλ. Είναι διάδοχος του θρόνου της Σαουδικής Αραβίας. Εχει πολλές εταιρείες, μία από αυτές ασχολείται με κατασκευές. Είναι νέος με μοντέρνες αντιλήψεις, ενδιαφέρεται για επενδύσεις στην Ελλάδα», έιπε.

Για ολιγη χαλαρωση του αναγνωστη της ταπεινης αυτης σελιδας παραθετω εικονογραμμα μετα μουσικης, της αοιδου Λειλα, ητις ευχεται εις τον ακροατην «ειρηνη εντος και εκτος της ψυχης». 

Εχων ενσωματωσει τα φιλειρηνικα συναισθηματα της Λειλα, και με τμημα του εγκεφαλου και της καρδιας μου εις τα ανοικτα της Κυπρου, οπου και κειται η Αποκλειστικη Οικονομικη Ζωνη, ητις ειναι πληρης πετρελαιου, επανερχομαι εις το καυτο θεμα της σωτηριας της Παναθας.

Το πρωτο και βασικο στοιχειο του μετασχηματισμου ειναι η αλλαγη της μασκωτ. Η συμπαθεστατη Λειλα. η καμηλα της φωτογραφιας (Πηγη Marvel of the desert: the camel in Saudi Arabia), θα γινει η νεα μασκωτ της ομαδας. Ολα τα δυτικοτροπα αρκουδακια, και αλλα ζωακια πανε περιπατο.

Το δευτερο σημαντικο στοιχειο αφορα τις εις το επεκεινα μετακινησεις οπαδων της ομαδας. Η νεα διοικηση της ομαδας ειναι φιλειρηνικη. Ως εκ τουτου, θα συνεργασθει πληρως με την αστυνομια για την καταπατηση της βιας. Οι οπαδοι μας θα μετακινουνται με καμηλες προκειμενου να μηδενισθει ο κινδυνος επεισοδιων κατα και μετα την μεταβαση εις αλλοτριες πολεις.

Η τριτη μεγιστη αλλαγη εγκειται εις τα σουβλακια που θα τρωμε στη διαρκεια, πριν και μετα τον αγωνα. Θα ειναι ολα απο αρνισιο κιμα, σε απολυτη αρμονια και με τις παραδοσεις των δυο αδελφων λαων. Ποιμενικη η Ελληνικη κουζινα, νομαδικη η σαουδαραβικη, με βαση το αρνακι και το κατσικι.

Η τεταρτη μεγαλη επιπτωση αφορα την Ελλαδα μας, την πατριδα μας, την οικονομια μας. Δεν θα περιοριστει στην Παναθα ο Πριγκηψ, θα  επενδυσει και στην Ελλαδα!Επιτελους!!!!! Σωτηρια!!!!!!! Ολες οι Κασσανδρες, οι τοκογλυφοι, οι μασωνοι, οι εχθροι της Ελλαδος θα σκασουνε απο το κακο τους!!!!! Η Ελλαδα εχει φιλους εχει επενδυτες, εχει σωτηρες, εχει μελλον, θα ξαναρχισουμε να ξοδευουμε οσα λεφτα δεν εχουμε, θα γυρισει η ζωη μας ξανα στα παληα καλα που ξεραμε, και να πανε να σαβουριαστουνε οι βορειοευρωπαιοι, οι ξενερωτοι, οι νευρωτικοι, εμεις παμε χερι χερι με τους επενδυτες μας και τους αγνοουμε ολους αυτους.

Η πεμπτη τεραστια επιπτωση αφορα την εξωρυξη πετρελαιου στην ΑΟΖ της Κυπρου. Τερμα τα διφραγκα αγαπητοι γειτονες Τουρκοι! Οσο και αν το θελετε, δεν θα το μπορεσετε!!!!! Με την πανισχυρη παρουσια και επενδυση του Πριγκηπα, ολα τα πετρελαια ειναι δικα μας!!!!!! Αντε θα δωσουμε και λιγα στου Ρωσους που εχουνε τοσα και τοσα επενδυσει στην Κυπρο (προχθες μολις δωσανε και δανειο 2,5 δις ΕΥΡΩ στην Κυπριακη Δημοκρατια για να αποφυγει το ξεκωλιασμα της τροικας).

Αισθανομαι βαρεια τα βλεφαρα μου. Η υπερπροσπαθεια συγγραφης αυτου του εθνοσωτηριου αρθρου με κατεβαλε. Βαινω αρον αρον τον εαυτον μου επι κλινης ασκεπης και αραχτος. Αλλα και ευτυχης.

Αλεκουμ Σαλαμ Πριγκηπα!!!!!


Callas and Visconti in Opera

Παρασκευή, 16 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2011

Today is the anniversary of the death of Maria Callas.  She died in Paris, France, on 16th September 1977.

Last year I wrote on her masterclass in the Julliard School of Music in New York City  in 1971-1972, focusing on her teaching the singing of Rigoletto’a aria ”Cortigiani vil razza dannata”.

Remembering Callas today brought to me the memory of her collaboration with the gigantic figure of Luchino Visconti.

Visconti is the man who opened the door of Love in Callas” existence. Callas became a different woman after meeting Visconti.

Visconti first saw and heard Callas perform in Wagner’s «Parsifal» in Rome in 1949.  Visconti instinctively felt that Callas was the singer and tragic actress that could work with him in his own operatic stagings.

The Visconti – Callas collaboration begun with the 1954 production of Spontini’s «La Vestale» in Milan’s La Scala.

In their joint appearance on French television in 1969 (see below), Visconti said: «I started to direct Opera bacause of , no, not bacause of, but for Maria Callas».

Follow the link to Re-visioning Callas in order to read interesting relevant material and see two clips.

Four more operas followed: La sonnambula, La Traviata, Anna Bolena, and Iphigenie en Tauride. In a period of three years Visconti and Callas gave the world five wonderful operatic productions and performances.

In April 1969 Callas gave a series of interviews to French television, inviting as her guests some of her friends in life and in arts. One of the was Luchino Visconti. You can view the clip .

Bacchus Sculptures – Three examples of Greek Art

Τετάρτη, 14 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2011

Great Art is a mix of two basic components. The first is the accumulation of the past. The second is the break away from the past. In an earlier post, I presented Michelangelo’s Bacchus in Florence’s Bargello. Today I would like to view some earlier sculptures depicting Dionysus or Bacchus, the God of Wine. This will serve to highlight the first component of Great Art, the tradition that Michelangelo inherited, and will make it easier to appreciate his creation.

Dionysus, Bronze, Greece 460 BC. Musee du Louvre, Paris

I start with a Greek statuette of Dionysus as a young man, of the 5th century BC. I quote from the Louvre site:

«Created c.460 BCE, this statuette bears witness to the aesthetic innovations introduced by the generation of sculptors who worked in the Severe style, after the Archaic period and before the Classical period. The contours are more flowing and the distribution of weight is new. The tilted pelvis and the accompanying movement of the muscles add life to the figure, although the line of the shoulders remains horizontal: the contrapposto arrangement of the figure developed by Polyclitus of Argos toward the mid-fifth century BCE had not yet been adopted at this point. The youth is captured in a walking position, with his weight on his left leg and the right leg bent, the heel of the right foot probably raised from the ground in the manner of works by Polyclitus of a few years later. The weight of the body is thus shifted on to one leg alone. The treatment of the skillfully proportioned musculature also anticipates the athletic figures of Polyclitus. The hair, caught up in a short style, reflects the style common at the time. The grave facial expression, finally, contrasts with the open smiles of the Archaic kouroi.»

Praxiteles: Hermes and the infant Dionysus, 4th century BC

I continue with Praxiteles” infant Dionysus held by Hermes, one of the most beautiful sculptures of Ancient Greece, now in the Archaelogical Museum of Olympia in Greece. I quote from the Museum of Art and Archaeology of the University of Missouri:

«When Zeus, king of the gods, revealed himself to his mortal lover Semele, she was at once incinerated by his divine radiance. Zeus, however, was able to rescue their unborn child by sewing him within his own thigh. Following the birth of the child, Zeus ordered Hermes, his messenger, to hide the newborn from his jealous wife Hera, who sought to destroy any remnants of the affair, including the newborn. Hermes swiftly took the baby to remote mountains for hiding, where nymphs raised the child. Under their care, the infant Dionysos grew to maturity and became the god of wine, revelry, and theater. Hermes and the Infant Dionysos depicts the messenger before he delivered the infant to the mountain nymphs.

German excavators discovered the statue in 1877 in the Temple of Hera at Olympia. Pausanias, a second century A.D. historian, describes his tour of this temple in which he saw such a statue said to be by Praxiteles.

Praxiteles achieved a naturalism and intimacy not seen before in sculpture. His style moved away from the hard, scientific vision of the earlier Classical Period. Unbalanced poses, sensuous forms, playful subjects, and use of emotion contrast with the previous period’s idealized and stoic works. The innovations evident in Hermes and the Infant Dionysos define the Late Classical Period and signify changes fully realized in the Hellenistic Period.»

Borghese Vase, detail, Musee du Louvre, Paris

To conclude this short detour, I would like to view the Borghese Vase, now in the Louvre. The Vase was made in Athens in the 1st century BC, of Pentelikon marble. Quoting from the Louvre site: «These large vases, much appreciated by the Romans as decoration for their gardens, were mass-produced in workshops in Athens and then exported to Italy in large quantities. Athenian marble workers specialized in making these pieces. The rapid Hellenisation of the Roman ruling class that resulted from the conquests stimulated the development of backward-looking styles. Since pillaging by Roman generals was not sufficient to meet the growing demand for Greek works, artists drew on the repertoires of ealier periods of Greek art. The relief decoration represents a Bacchic procession. Satyrs and maenads dance to music, accompanying Dionysus and Ariadne, who preside over the revels. The models for the decoration are drawn from Hellenistic art of the mid-second century BC.»


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