Another Recipe!

Keftedakia

These “little meatballs” are a standard. This recipe is a bit more complicated, but fun. It is adapted from Aglaia Kremezi’s The Foods of Greece, (1993, New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang). You can vary the seasoning, adding cumin or more hot pepper. There is no single right way to make them.

Ingredients:
Olive oil
1lb. zucchini or summer squash
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh hot chili pepper or 1/3 tsp. dried hot pepper
1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
¾ cup milk
1 lb. ground lamb or ground beef (or half a pound of each!)
1 large or two small eggs
3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
½ cup chopped fresh mint (1 and 1/2 tbl. spoons dried mint or oregano can be substituted)
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons ouzo or dry white wine
1 cup grated parmesan or kefalotyri cheese
2 teaspoons salt.

Instructions: Grate the zucchini, salt it lightly, and drain out as much water from it as possible (you can let it sit in a strainer and drain for half an hour, or wrap it in a dish towel and twist/squeeze the water out of it, or both—the zucchini has too much moisture in it otherwise, and will make it hard for the meatballs to stick together). Heat the olive oil over low heat in a heavy skillet. Sautee the grated, drained zucchini for a couple of minutes, then add the onions. Cook until onions and zucchini are soft, but do not brown. Add the chili pepper and garlic, cook for about one more minute, then stir in the bulgur and milk. As soon as the milk is warm, turn off the heat, and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes while the bulgur absorbs the liquid and the mixture cools. Meantime, in a large bowl, mix the ground meat, eggs, mint & parsley, ouzo/wine and salt. Knead in the grated cheese, and then the zucchini & bulgur mixture. Cover and chill for at least one hour, or for as long as overnight. To cook, spoon out medium tbl. spoons the mixture of and roll into balls or little patties. Place them a an inche or two apart on a cookie sheet, lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking spray (the pan should have a lip or raised rim—fat will cook out of the meat, and a rimless pan will let the fat drip onto the bottom of the oven—what a mess!). Broil on low for 10-20 minutes (depending on heat of your broiler and distance of thepan from the heat), until browned and firm, being careful not to burn. Alternatively, you can dredge the raw meatballs in flour and fry them in olive oil. Serve them as is as appetizers, or add them to a tomato sauce and serve warm.

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Kali Orexi

Several students have asked for recipes for some of the Greek delicacies we enjoyed. So, here are two that I make regularly at home: tzatziki and gigantes. They are both easy and fun to make and will give you a burst of the flavor of Greek. Kali Orexi (Basically Bon Apetite in Greek)! Tina

MY FAVORITE GREEK RECIPES

 Tzatziki – Yogurt Sauce with Cucumbers and Garlic

 32 oz. low-fat or full fat yogurt (in Roanoke, Stonyfield Farms is readily available and good) OR Fage Greek yogurt (readily available in many grocery stores now).

1 medium-sized cucumber, preferably seedless English variety

salt

2 – 3 cloves of garlic

1 – 2 tbsps lemon juice

  1. You can skip this step if using Fage Greek yogurt.

Strain the yogurt, using a coffee filter, or cheese cloth, or a fine metal sieve. This will take at least 4 -5 hours (during which time the yogurt in its strainer should be left in the refrigerator) and about 1 ½ cups of yellow liquid will drip out of the yogurt. Throw out the liquid; retain the considerably thicker yogurt.

  1. Peel the cucumber. Coarsely grate the whole cucumber. Salt the grated cucumber and press as much water out of it as possible.
  2. Add the cucumber and garlic to the strained yogurt. The garlic should be crushed in a press.
  3. Add the lemon juice.
  4. Refrigerate the completed product. It is best 24 hours after preparation.
  5. Some variations on this basic tzatziki recipe include grated carrot, dill, or unpeeled cucumber.

 Gigantes – Giant Butter Beans in Tomato Sauce

 2 cans unseasoned butter beans (or 3 – 4 cups dried ones)

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium sized onion, finely chopped

½ cup dry white wine (retsina preferable)

¾ – 1 cup fresh dill

2 tbsps oregano

hot pepper flakes to taste (optional)

1 can Italian plum tomatoes (or 7 – 8 fresh ones)

  1. If not using canned beans, cook the butter beans in water and salt – this will take about 1 ½ hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Saute the chopped onions in olive oil in a heavy bottom casserole that can be placed in the oven (like a Dutch oven). Add ½ cup dill and the oregano, and the hot pepper, if you wish.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the butter beans (drain the water off first) and Italian tomatoes. If using fresh tomatoes, cut into pieces first. Mix well.
  5. If you cook your own butter beans, you may want to add some chicken stock.
  6. Add the rest of the dill, reserving a sprig for the top of the casserole when serving.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly and reduced in liquid.
  8. Serve with rice or egg noodles.

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48 hours and Finally Home!

We learned a lot about Greece in our travels.  We also learned how different our society is from theirs.

It was interesting to experience the cash-based economy versus the credit-based economy.  Greece is trying to become more western but there are still many sellers who only work with cash.  Some restaurants took credit cards, while others did not.  The same is said for most retail stores.  Many tourist locations where credit-based, but places such as the Athens Flea Market, was cash-based.

We learned also that it is great to have a washing machine and dryer.  It is surprising how much you miss something you take for granted!  None us will miss having to hand wash and then wait three days for our cloths to dry or having to resort to a hair dryer.

Greece and most of Europe are natural curious about travelers.  They always wanted to talk to us and get to know us even if we never saw them again.  Here in the U.S. people don’t really stop to ask a random tourist or person in general about their lives.  We don’t randomly start singing in a restaurant to the songs we know unless we are drunk or doing karaoke. 

Another thing we observed was how unfortunate Greece’s economic buildup is.  Since Greece is so rich in culture and history, every time a piece of land is built on there is most likely an archaeological site underneath.  So like the subways and the Acropolis museum the architects find ways of building around the excavation.  Unfortunately this is very costly.  Greece has a hard time of building up when there is always another brick or mountain in its way.

We learned about our selves that we are not as incapable as some of us thought we were.  We found it easy to navigate the streets of Athens with a map which wasn’t always as helpful as it appeared to be.  Some times streets were smaller than the map indicated or a street that wasn’t supposed to be there at all.  But we eventually found our way and no one seriously got lost in the process, we may have gone in circles, but we weren’t lost, so long as we could see a metro stop or the Acropolis….

All in all it was a wonderful adventure, and we hope that you have had as much fun reading our blog entries as we have had writing them, and visiting Greece!  Adio!

By Kelly and Anne.

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Been There! Done That!

Been There Done That

Byzantine Museum

We started the morning at the Byzantine Museum. First we learned about the Museum’s great benefactor, the Duchess of Plaisance. The duchess was the owner of the Villa Ilissia, which is now the Byzantine Museum. The Duchess was born in Philadelphia in 1785 and arrived in Greece in 1827. The exhibit uncovered the mystery surrounding her. Apparently she was estranged from her husband (with whom she once had a loving relationship) and kept her daughter’s embalmed body in her basement—which was later lost in a house fire. However in 1830, she undertook twelve orphans and had them educated at her own expanse. She was later thanked by the Greek government for this act of kindness. The duchess passed away in 1854 and is buried in Athens.

Our favorite piece of art at the museum was the marble decorated with the Champlevé Technique. We have never enjoyed this type of art before. The piece was made by removing the marble and filling the relief with mastic wax. The wax would have then been decorated.  

We also learned that many Greek myths were carried over into Byzantium. For example, the common act of carving lamb carriers and the myth of Orpheus was recycled in Byzantium art. Below is “The Good Shepherd” from Corinth in the 4th century.

 

Upon leaving the museum we were greeted by hordes of Greek children who waved to us and asked us the following questions:

Hi! How are you?

How old are you?

What are you?

American School

After the Museum, we walked to the American School of Classical Studies. Here, we visited a former classmate of Professor Salowey. We then learned about fellow travel writers such as Schliemann. Schliemann was a quick study of languages and learned the languages of the countries to which he traveled. In fact, Schliemann wrote his journals in the language of the land he was visiting.

Later we leafed through some very old books. We saw a drawing of a pediment of the Parthenon which depicts the scene of Athena and Poseidon competing to be the patron god of Athens. This pediment was destroyed and this drawing gives us valuable information about the scene.  We also enjoyed prints of ancient costumes and a lovely illuminated text of Homer’s Illiad.

We had pizza and pasta for lunch and then climbed Lycabettus. From the top, we enjoyed a beautiful view of Athens! We saw the Acropolis, the Philopapas, National Garden, Aegina, and Acrocorinth. Looking over Athens was a great way to end the trip!

-Sarah & Cait

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The Day Before the Day Before We Leave

This morning we started with a pleasant walk through Plaka toward Syntagma to have a look at some Byzantine churches.  On the way, we passed by a hoard of kids on their way to school.  This reminds us how different the school system is here in Greece–no yellow school busses!  The first church that we came to was named Kapnikareas and has been in constant use since the tenth century.  It still had the original designs on the exterior with a mosaic above the doorway, and the frescos inside the church had been redone in the fifties.

                We then walked to the much larger Metropolitan Church, which is the main church of the city.  All large state funerals are held here, including the funeral of Odysseus Elytis, a nationialistic poet and winner of Nobel Peace Prize.  The larger church replaced a smaller one that still stands today.  This smaller is the Church of the Virgin Mary “who answers prayers quickly”.  Built in 1204, it is made entirely of building blocks of ancient sites, including more than 90 ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine reliefs.  For example, above the main entrance, there are some frieze blocks from an ancient Greek temple which acts as a calendar of ancient festivals. 

                As we continued on, we saw the “most overlooked monument” in Athens, the Monument of the Muses.  This was a part of Plato’s academy, and still today marks a location frequented by philosophical events, as many protests are held here.  We climbed the steps to the Parliament building and watched the changing of the guards.  It was interesting to see the guards “dancing” in traditional dress, literally—they were wearing skirts, and wooden shoes with giant puff balls.  We learned a little bit about the Greek economy and population growth and that Athens makes up more than a third of the total population of Greece.

                Our doggie escort lead us next to the Jewish Museum of Greece, just a stone’s throw away from Syntagma Square.  The museum was founded in 1977 and contains 2,310 years of Jewish life in Greece.  On display in the museum, we saw the first archaeological evidence of the Jewish faith in Greece.  Also included are exhibits on Jewish history, holidays, Shoah, costumes, and daily life. 

                After breaking for lunch and wandering through the extremely crowded, pigeon-filled streets, we reconvened and went to the Benaki museum.  On display, is the private collection of Antonis Benakis, a prominent political and social figure in Greece in Egypt.  The museum was founded in 1930 and is located in his home, along with a nice restaurant on the third floor.  There are 40,000 items in 36 galleries, dating from the Neolithic period to 1922.   The museum displays a unique installation of modern art scattered amongst the collection on display, perhaps in a less traditional manner.

                We finished off our day just as it began to rain and are off to fend for ourselves on the night before the day before we leave. 

Post by Tyne and Kayce.

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“The Men Without Pants”

          This morning our adventures took us to a wondrous place filled with vast and ancient treasures. Although blocks of marble may not be treasures to all, to us scholars on this voyage, they certainly are. These things that set this trove apart from the others are the location, the pieces, and the second “no photo” we’ve heard thus far. While the first time was only for a mosaic tile room, today “no photo” applied to the entire museum.
          The museum is in a prime location, just off the dromos, facing its predecessor and historic twin. Both buildings feature the same columnar styling (eight by seventeen). The top level of the new building is even rotated twenty-three degrees to match the older building placement up high overlooking it. If you haven’t guessed by now, we went to the new Acropolis Museum.

The new Acropolis Museum


          The location is also fabulous due to the fifth century ruins directly beneath the museum. Excavations of the site are currently underway and are visible through the glass floors (caution ladies – don’t wear a skirt here). There is some contention regarding the buildings immediately surrounding it as the museum loses its view of the ancient Acropolis from some levels; the neoclassical structures crowd the museum, butting up right against it. These difficulties and more were realized in 2000 when Greece joined the European Union and needed a proper place to house the artifacts stolen by Lord Elgin (a fact that was definitely emphasized in the museum provided video). Plaster casts stand alongside the surviving marble works as a stark reminder of how pieces have been looted and never returned.

Looking through an opening outside the museum to the site below.


          On the second floor of the museum, Professor Salowey challenged us to find several pieces and specific facts about them. It provided us with an excellent opportunity to apply what we’ve learned throughout the trip. One of our tasks was to find a kore (pronounced KO-reh) statue dressed more conservatively than her seventeen counterparts. Most female kore are depicted wearing a chiton, a more fanciful design than the simple peplops of our kore. Another one of our tasks was to find who the “men in pants” were. Men wearing pants are a rarity in Greece (well, in Ancient Greece, anyway). Pants were a Persian thing at the time, and their depictions in marble were often colorfully painted. The depiction of a Persian in a Greek temple (recall that these artifacts came from the Parthenon) may seem odd, but Persian archers fought alongside Greeks in the years prior to the Persian wars.
After the museum, we ventured over to the Theatre of Dionysis. Dionysis is the god of madness, ecstasy, and of course, wine. His games, therefore, were theatrical performances which took place in this theatre. The festival would last several days in the spring and would include 3-4 tragic trilogies, such as the Oresteia. The festival would end with some comic relief in the form of a satyr play. The plays were highly entertaining, had religious pertinence, and provided a political commentary. Winners of the festival were permitted to erect statues upon which a “trophy tripod” would be placed (consider this the Oscars of the ancient world). Walls were later added surrounding the orchestra pit by the Romans who preferred to watch bloodier forms of entertainment.

Sitting in the seats of the Theatre of Dionysis


          We then took a break for lunch before heading over to the Arch of Hadrian. Built in the style of a triumphant arch, the west side facing the Acropolis bears the inscription “this is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus” while the east side bears the inscription “this is the city of Hadrian, not Theseus.” It stood as the boundary between the old (western) Athens and the newly rebuilt (eastern) Athens. Some scholars, however, argue that the arch honors Hadrian as the new founder of the city, effectively replacing Theseus.

The Arch of Hadrian


          We continued our walking tour through Plaka, pausing at a marble bust of Melina Mercouri. Mercouri was a Greek triple threat: actress, singer, and dancer. She also ventured into American cinema, most notably in Never on a Sunday. She spearheaded the idea that Ancient sites in Greece should be connected by pleasant pedestrian walkways. We thank her for the lovely walkway that we traverse everyday leading to the metro station; a mere ten years ago it was a busy motorway.
From there we made our way over to the Lysikrates Monument, an example of a trophy monument won from the Festival of Dionysis. It was well preserved as it was later built into the wall of a monastery. Lord Byron then used it as a library, ensuring its survival. It now stands as an historic monument surrounded by tourist shops and restaurants.

The Lysikrates Monument


          As we navigated the twisting streets, we eventually arrived upon the Roman Agora, a market of Caesar Augustus facing the north slope of the Acropolis. It was constructed after the Roman revival of Athens as the Greek agora was already a thing of the past. Its entrance is marked by a massive Propylon and sits significantly lower than the surrounding modern city, a sign of its antiquity as silt accumulation raised the city’s elevation over time.
          Adjacent to the Roman Agora was the Tower of the Winds. It is the only ancient octagonal building left in existence. Extremely durable, it has withstood the test of time and stands exactly as it did when it was first constructed in the second century B.C. Each external face featured a sundial; inside, a water powered “clock” told the passing of time and phases of the moon. Unfortunately, these features no longer remain. Only cuttings in the floor of the building survive. Up above, the eight winds are depicted as personifications on their corresponding faces (i.e. the northern wind is pictured on the northern wall).

The Tower of the Winds, aka The Bathhouse of the Winds


          We finished the day with the Library of Hadrian, also facing the north slope of the Acropolis. Constructed between 131 to 132 A.D., the large nearly square walled enclosure acted as more than just a library. It was multi-functional and acted more as a public square, modeled after imperial Roman forums. Its walls have been reused and recycled over the centuries. To this day, buildings backing up to it still incorporate the library’s walls in their architecture.
          Tonight we dined at a restaurant that transported us back 2,500 years in history. It featured only foods that would have been available in antiquity, and the atmosphere reflected this. The most struggling aspect: there were no forks.

Dining together on a traditional meal.

Leg of goat anyone?

Now that we have walked and dined in antiquity, we look forward to hearing about modern Greece tomorrow.

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Eλευθερία

Freedom! Today was a free day, which means, among other things, that the professors write the blog entry. We know that students did various things today. Some went to the 2004 Olympic stadium and swimming pool, some visited a flea market, some went to the zoo, some saw Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the National gardens. Most visited a museum or two that aren’t in the regular itinerary, and a few even went to see a film at a Greek movie theater.

But rather than try to document in detail student adventures that we weren’t part of, we will simply and briefly note a few things we, the professors, did on our free day, and share some of our favorite pictures from the trip so far.

It was a bright, warm day. After starting the morning off over breakfast, giving students advice over breakfast for free day activities and directions to specific locales, we headed to the city market. This offers a different experience than those most Americans are used to, as illustrated in the video of butchers hawking their wares in the meat market.

In the afternoon we picnicked at the foot of the Philopappos monument on the Hill of the Muses. The hill was covered with wild arugula, butterflies were fluttering around us, the air was clear, and we could see the Acropolis in one direction, and the gleam of the sea in the other. In between marketing and picnicking, we did some laundry by hand in our hotel room bathtub—boring but necessary.

Later we previewed the Acropolis Museum, which will undoubtedly be featured in tomorrow’s blog entry after we take students there. We ended the day having dinner with an old friend in the Plaka.

Crisis Menu

All is well here. It has been a good day, on a good trip, with a great group of students. Below are some pictorial highlights of the things we’ve done in the last two weeks.

Delphi Birds

Uncharacteristically Angelic Looking

999 Stairs in Nauplion

 

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