‘In November 1973, during the students’ uprising at the Athens Polytechnic Institute, the cry was “Bread, Education, Freedom.” It is ironical that today, 15 months after the junta, the students are still shouting the same slogan.
the real irony is that today, 37 years after the uprising, Greeks are shooting the same slogan as they face the worst economic crisis in the last 50 years and are officially under foreign economic occupation…



Here is Polytechneio








Community… Latin…noun… from communis, meaning fellowship, community of relationships or feelings.  
(The compact edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, 1971)    



The urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg  in his Great Good Place talks about the gathering places where the members of a community hang out for the pleasure of good company and conversation.  What he calls great good place is the local bar, bistro, tavern, café, coffeehouse, bookstore, hair saloon etc, a place which is neither the home nor the workplace but is “remarkably similar to a good home in the psychological comfort and support that it extends” and  is “…the heart of a community’s social vitality, the grassroots of democracy…”

 Today, however, many of those places serve neither coherent communities nor emphemeral relationships among relative strangers. Moreover, many people in the Western world are receiving a sense of community and great good place from cyberspace. 

But can good places‘ important function toward forming communities be found in cyberspace ?  The fact is that the emphemeral relationships among relative strangers is  found in internet communities too. Furthermore, they “can reproduce many of the characteristics of face-to-face communities: they offer support, empathy, and an environment in which members can develop a sense of belonging and social identity. In addition, online groups often have social structures found in face-to-face society, including culture, norms, sanctions, and reciprocal relations.”  Real-life status criteria are also not entirely absent online, though  online communities can interact ignoring differences such as race, gendre, class etc. 


 Though virtual spaces are important and vibrant, they cannot be compared with the  physical meeting places  because a real life “great good place” involves the environment and the  physical presence. And face-to-face is a powerful and effective tool of communicating in ways that written communication cannot match. It  is essential to a person’s sense of well being  and is deeply hostile to the dark side of individualism.    Besides, claiming a great good place “as existing ‘in cyberspace’ is misleading , because the cyberspace does not exist as a distinct, separate realm from the real life, but forms a complementary relation with the later“.  

Nevertheless, internet can be thought  as  an open access to  knowledge, public collaboration and public self-expression. As for me personally, the very essence of the internet is the access to cultures and interesting, thinking people from around the world. Those people that make me better able to understand the other, everytime I return to the real world, I would like to invite to a real life  ” great good place” to enjoy a bottle of wine along with tasty treats, laughter and great conversation.




The history of humanity is closely linked with the taming and domestication of wild plants and animals. Of course it was the long and laborous work of Neolithic people behind them. The labor was worth: Neolithic humans satisfied their hunger and provided most of our food today. Moreover, domestication led to food production and food production led to explosions in population and technology, to social stratification and political centralization. It also provided the basis for the intellectual construction which is allied with the enjoyment of food.












These photos are from Falassarna, a semi-mountainous coastal area located about 55 km west of Chania (Crete). Though Falassarna is best known for its endless beach and turquoise waters, also is a notable archaeological site. Falassarne, a local nymph gave her name to that area, which flourished mainly during the Classic and Hellenistic years. However the oldest ruins date from the Middle Minoan period. During the periods of flourishment Falassarna was a great naval force, as was on the route between Ptolemaic Alexandria and the Aegean. Its power brought it into conflict with Rome, which destroyed the city in 69 AD. Both the rise of sea level and the massive earthquakes (365 AD) that raised this part of Crete seem to have contributed to its total decline. To the north of the beach you can see the remains of the ancient harbour, cyclopean walls, a stone carved ‘throne’, the ruins of a temple, possibly dedicated to Apollo or Artemis (Diana) etc.


While going down from the top of the hill to the beach, you don’t only have magnificent view of the sea and the wild landscape of western Crete but you have the view of greenhouses too.


 The fact is that during the last 3 decades there is a considerable increase in the number of greenhouses. The degradation in groundwater and seawater is a seasonal result of the agrochemical pollution caused by them.

It looks like a paradox that we are talking about an area which hosts a large number of species and habitats and belongs to the Natura 2000 European protection network. As Crete is the northern point where certain African trees are encountered, you can see cedars and palms amongst the sand dunes.

Cretan cedar
Cretan cedar

Turpentine tree (Minoan kri-ta-nos, botan. pistacia terebinthus), crithmum maritimum….



Crithmum maritimum
Crithmum maritimum

cretan thyme and rare aromatic, ornamental and medical plants also grow wild in the region. 

Wild thyme
Wild thyme

And here is a wild -thyme field.


Wild thyme is deeply appreciated for its gentle flavor, its high- antiseptic essence oil and its nectar for bees. The question is if a so –called wild thyme is really wild thyme. Is it wild thyme because it grows in the wild or cultivated thyme because someone planted it? But if the greenhouses can have serious effects on the health of local flora and fauna the ‘cultivated’ ‘wild’ thyme saves the wild one from harvesting. These are the two modern faces of taming the wild nature, after all.


There is a small hole in my heart.

Protests and clashes over shooting of 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police officer continue unabated. Greek police run out of teargas and approached Germany and Israel for urgent supplies. Police quickly denied its involvement in the shooting of a 16 year old boy’s hand. Riot police officers protect the Christmas tree at Syntagma Square in Athens. The original tree was burned in the first days of protests and the second one is the best -guarded tree in the world!!!!  In some ways the protests have found different forms: all over Greece more than 800 high schools and 240 university departments are occupied, there are protests outside police stations and protests in the central streets of major cities.

 It is the murder of Alexis and the sense of despair that make the climate in Greece so tense. You see, when you have in the midst of serious economic depression an incompetent government and several senior government officials involved in a long series of economical scandals… when you have parents working hard to support their childrens’ studies and school kids working very hard at school to get in a Public University, expecting a wage of 700 €… when the dramatic expansion of university education has not been followed by an analogous increase of public funding… when there are repeatted attacks on social security… when there is almost impunity for police violence, including racist attacks and there is no faith in the Greek justice system…. in a few words when there is a crisis of values, institutions, politics, society and economy, all it takes is a spark.


The violence that broke out after the shooting death is a result of the state violence which is, by far, much more destructive than teenagers’ violence. In fact, no one in Athens was surprised by the situation that broke after the shooting death. However we are all surprised by the duration of the protests. Anarchist groups played a key part in the first days, the undercover police and of course, the fascists, but the most important role is held by the anguished, disillusioned and angry middle-class teenagers who look at their economic and employment future with despair; who can not believe that one of them was murdered for nothing. It is a revolt of schoolchildren and students, most on the streets for the first time.

Greek society is still in shock by the killing and its anger is fuelled by the violence employed against demonstrators. Thus, parents and other adults have to protect the protesting kids standing between them and police.

These strange days, philanthropic bazaars give some light in our souls. My son’s school parents association organized a bazaar to raise money for the underprivileged children’s extra education (visits to museums, and theatres, participation in education programs and other events). Parents and schoolchildren made the majority of the artefacts, gift items and food showcased in the bazaar. I made Christmas wreaths, liquers (lemon, strawberry and bitter almond), chocolates, various flavored salts, sauces and my favorite mostarda dolce. The two – day bazaar was hosted by the school and featured entertainment, shopping and delicious food for children and visitors.

Yes, there is a small hole in my heart… and a smile on my face as I see people feeling responsibility for the needy.



3 large quinces, peeled and cut in 2 cm cubes

700 gr sweet wine (mavrodaphni or visanto) + 2 tbs

1 cinnamon stick

3/4 tsp powdered cloves

2 tb powdered mustard seeds

Stir 2 tbs wine into mustard powder in small cup. Place quinces, wine, cloves and cinnamon stick into a pot and simmer gently, stirring frequently until desired consistency is achieved. Take the pot off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick, add the mustard pulp, stir well and spoon while mostarda dolce is still hot into hot sterilized jars.

This mustard is made in Zante (Ionian islands) and is one of the delicacies a skilled cook prepares for the feast on Christmas eve. In Corfu mostarda dolce is made with a variety of candied fruits. The rest of Greece is unfamiliar with this fruit mustard which is of italian origin and dates back to the middle ages. Mostarda dolce is a requirement with the roast turkey or meat, however is delicious with a selection of hard cheese. 

1st of May

29 April 2008 – The current food crisis threatens to undo all the recent efforts to lift people out of poverty around the world and could spark related economic, social and political crises, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today at the inaugural event in the Geneva Lecture series.

“We are familiar with the causes: rising oil prices, growing global demand, bad trade policies, bad weather, panic buying and speculation, the new craze of biofuels derived from food products and so on and so on,” Mr. Ban said at the lecture, jointly organized by the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

He warned that the recent surge in prices of basic foods, such as rice, wheat and corn, already having an enormous impact on poor people worldwide, could lead to further deleterious effects.

“If not managed properly, it [the food crisis] could touch off a cascade of related crises – affecting trade, economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world.”


About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds, as you can see on this display. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often.

Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone. The problem is that hungry people are trapped in severe poverty. They lack the money to buy enough food to nourish themselves. Being constantly malnourished, they become weaker and often sick. This makes them increasingly less able to work, which then makes them even poorer and hungrier. This downward spiral often continues until death for them and their families. http://www.poverty.com/

In the 21st century the technology may expands its presence in our life, but the lives of millions of people depend on charity. Greece is part of the global food crisis. The great expensiveness and the harsh neo-liberal politics have thrown into poverty 20% of Greeks. The 13% of Greek workers live below the poverty line.


Bloggers Unite

My name is ….* and I come from Afganistan. I belong to the Hazara tribe, which is a religious and national minority in my country. When I left my country in 1999, I was 14 years old. At that time the Taliban attacked my village and captured my father because he was fighting against them. They killed him right then and there; in front of my own eyes…they have done the same thing a few months earlier with my oldest brother. After, they locked my mother inside the house and set fire on the house…That day I saw many other people getting killed. I still have nightmares about them. Many times I think that maybe it would have been better if I had been killed that day too, but I had to stay alive to save and take care of my two younger siblings who were then 9 and 10 years old…When we left Afganistan, we went to Pakistan and from there to Iran, where my young sister got sick and died. As we could not support ourselves, I left my other brother to family relatives and I came to Greece, where I immediately started working, so I can send money to him. 

Since 2002, according to the collective evidence provided by the Greek government, the number of refugees in Greece has risen from 7.000 persons to 20.684. However, this number is much smaller than the number of economic immigrants which is estimated at 900.000 foreign people and 250.000 ethnic Greeks from Albania and former USSR. As the easternmost European country, Greece is a gateway for people from Asia (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Kourdistan, Pakistan) and Africa (Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Congo, Sierra Leone etc.) Refugees from these countries are trying to escape famine, wars, persecution and human rights abuse.

Looking for better living conditions, hoping for a safer and more economically promising life, they pay the largest part of their money for extremely risky journeys. After arriving in Greece, they suffer from financial problems, fear, homesick, depression due to the family and culture separation. Children often suffer the most. On the way to safety, they suffer from hunger, malnutrition, illness, even seperation from families and caregivers.  

Last 13 years, instead of finding help, refugees that keep coming to Greece face institutional violence and strong official restrictions. Greece is totally harmonized with the European Limitation for the population coming from third countries. This harmonization has dangerous consequences: reasons for escape are hardly accepted, families are separated, healthcare is denied, failed asylum-seekers are forced to return to unsafe areas.

Greece should never forget its age-long tradition of emigration and the period of resselting 1,5 million refugees from Asia Minor, after the Greco-Turkish War (1919-22). Understanding refugees’ rights through the prism of our historic past make us remember that each refugee is a person exactly like us.



What happens when 1 Archaeovotanologist, 1 Archaeosteopathologist, 1 Prehistoric Archaeologist and me, decided to prepare a dinner in the spirit of creative anachronism on the 18th of July full moon? Well, we used our knowledge of historical and traditional Greek food, dug out Athenaeus and Roman cook books, started looking through them and… voila! A wonderful dinner with recipes coming from different periods… made by us, with a little help from husbands wives and kids.

We had pork ribs in ancient Greek way, Byzantine sausages, pea pure and ‘cheesecake’ from ancient Samos island. Oh, and a Greek salad made by the kids. Kids put their personal touch to the ‘cheesecake’ too.


Instead of a roast suckling pig, that was the first thought, we had pork ribs. They were simply rubbed with Nam Pla sauce and grilled on the barbecue. The Vietnamese Nuoc Mam or the Thai Nam Pla fish sauce  can be used as an alternative to the ancient Greek garos. This sauce was one of the dominant flavours of ancient Greek and Roman cuisine and a common trade item in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It was made by mixing small fishes or the discarded parts of fish with salt and allowing them to ferment under sun. The salty, fishy liquid that was drawn off after weeks was the garos. The solid product was called alix. Garos and alix were a way to add salt in cooking and were widely used until 16th century.


We made the sausages with the help of a sausage grinder and then grilled them on the barbecue. Even if we did not cut the pork into minced meat with a knife as should have done (the grinder was introduced in 19th century), the sausages were fabulous. The recipe will be presented step by step in a next post.

The fresh peas or broad beans puree is a traditional dish from Rethymno (Crete). It is served garnished with chopped onions and sprinkled with lemon juice, virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. We used a recipe given by the grandmother of one of our companions at dinner. She had grown up in Santorini but got married in Rethymno. The recipe asks for tsagala, as the unripe almonds are called, but we used blanched ones. This mashed pea dish is probably the grandmother’s personal combination of three culinary traditions. Mashed fresh peas or broad beans indicate Rethymno, capers indicate Santorini and raw almonds indicate the Minor Asian culinary heritage.


The kids made a Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, wild arugula and olives preserved in bitter orange juice. It was topped with fresh goat cheese (myzithra) and sprinkled with virgin olive oil, sea salt and homemade verjuice.

The bread was a luxury and a staple in ancient and Byzantine Greek food. We made plain unleavened bread with wheat flour, water and a pinch of salt. (We kneaded the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, elastic and no sticky and divided it into balls. We flattened them into discs with a rolling pin.) We have an oven next to the house, however we baked the pites on a heated stone.

And last, but not least, the ‘cheesecake’. The dessert course was known to ancient Greeks as ‘second plates’. A wealthy Greek host should demonstrate his generosity and wealth with a variety of ‘second plates’ such as cakes, sweetmeats, cheese, nuts etc. Cheese was eaten by its own or served with honey or baked into all manner of cakes and pies. In ‘The Deiphosophists’, a 15-volume anthology by the Greek scholar Athenaeus (c.200 AD) from Naucratis (Egypt), there is a large collection of sweet creations and cheesecakes. The recipe of our cheesecake is found in that anthology. The making of cheese cakes and pies is characteristic of ancient Greek and Roman pastoral societies. Of course, each society developed its own recipes, according to cultural taste and period technology. Romans spread them across Europe, so the origin of modern cheesecake is grounded in these cakes. The American cheesecakes derive from the recipes that were brought to New World by the first groups of European settlers.



1/2 kilo frozen peas of fresh peas

 1 large onion, finely chopped

 1 tb capers

 1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped

 1/2 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped

 1/2 cup cucumber, finely chopped

 1 ½ tb tahini

 lemon juice, as much as you like


 freshly ground black pepper

 1/3 cup virgin olive oil, or as much as you like

 Fill a pan with plenty of water, add the peas together with little salt and cook them until very soft. Pour off the water and drain them well. Press them with a fork until becoming mushy and leave them aside to cool. Transfer the puree to a bowl. Add the onion, cucumber, capers, almonds, mint, tahini, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Stir well and keep in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. This puree will become a wonderful dip if you’ll try running all the ingredients through a food processor with the knife blade.



“Take some cheese and squeeze excess moisture from it, grate it, put in a bronze sieve, strain it, add honey and flour made from spring wheat and heat them together into one mass.” (Athenaeus)

 1 k. soft fresh cheese well strained. We used fresh myzithra but ricotta is a good alternative to it.

½ cup of thyme honey

 ¾ cup of wheat flour

 Put cheese, honey and flour in a bowl and stir until well mixed. Heat the mixture together into one mass. Transfer it to a plate, cool completely and serve.

The kids escaped our attention and garnished the cake with some homemade strawberry marmalade. It was not bad, however we all agree that the ancient recipe tastes better.



“Yesterday night’s G8 dinner alone ‘consisted of 18 dishes in eight courses, including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a ‘G8 fantasy dessert.’ The banquet was accompanied by five different wines from around the world…The dinner came just hours after a ‘working lunch’ consisting of six courses[,] including white asparagus and truffle soup, crab and a supreme of chicken…” More: The Guerilla Gourmet


The controversial spraying of the olives against the olive fly has been banned by the EU and baiting methods are used instead of poisons. However, the Greek Department of Agricultural Development decided to control olive flies in Crete spraying the olive trees with Lebaycid, a highly toxic and inefficient chemical. On 2005, the same Department decided that Lebaycid should be used only until December of 2007. The reason of the reintroduction of such chemical control is that Department of Agricultural Development owns a large stock of Lebaycid.

Another aggravating factor is going to be added to our food through olive oil, which should be protected as a product of major importance for local diet, culture and economy.


To Laurie

During last years the Greek traditional cuisine and local culinary practices are in the focus of interest not only for tourism but also for food editors and writers. An intense interest for traditional food emerges also from the blogs of second-generation Greek immigrants. Since local and traditional food is linked to the heritage, culture and identity of a country, food helps to express who we are and which our roots are. However the question is, what does ‘traditional’ really mean?

  • Traditional food according to the European Parliament means that a food’s ingredients or composition or production or processing method show its transmission between generations. A food is called traditional if has been used “since before the Second World War”. (16-03-2006)
  • Despite this, traditional food can mean many different things for different people: it is a link to the local history and culture; it can be associated with respect for the environment, health benefits, better taste; it implies authenticity, purity or the desire for authenticity and purity, etc.
  • But, anyway, what does authentic cuisine mean? The local, seasonal food most people eat most days at home? Is seasonal food traditional and vice versa? Yes, it almost was, before the popularization of refrigerator. Is traditional food local and vice versa? Yes, it is when the cultural contacts, the trade and wealth do not exist. In past the cooking of remote villages was almost totally local and in some cases ultimate poor. But, at the present time how many of us eat only seasonal local foods? Actually we are addicted to non-seasonal because we are addicted to convenience. It is very convenient to eat anything at anytime of the year.
  • Is traditional local food authentic and pure? During Greek history there were plenty of people demanding authenticity and purity in cuisine, focusing their interest on the “ethical disruption of traditional food” that was caused by cultural contacts. In fact, authenticity and purity is an illusion. Even worse, the demand for authentic or inauthentic food can become a fence to keep people in their places.
  • The truth is that adaptation and change affect even the local cuisine. Local cuisine may be not as dynamic as its urban sister is, may be even conservative and without distant horizons but is not unaffected by changes. Tomato is a New World crop. It is one of the hallmarks of summer Cretan cuisine, though has been viewed as poisonous by previous generations. Well, the Cretan cuisine before the tomato was much different in taste and color than today’s Cretan summer cooking.
  • Does Greek traditional food is healthy? Yes if the consumption of greens, vegetables and fruits, the extensive use of olive oil and the moderate use of meat characterize it. But… now we are talking about the cuisine of Crete and islands, aren’t we? I mean that Greek cuisine is divided into geographic regions with people having different kinds of sources, different cultural and dietary traditions and even distinctive food tastes. If a man will follow the diet of a small Greek pastoral community from 50ies, he will eat lots of dairy products, butter, fat and meat. If he will not walk a lot and does not follow the dietary restrictions of Lenten as his 50ties fellow did, he will probably trigger off a heart attack.
  • Does tradition mean that a woman born in 1970 cooks just like her mother and grandmother and grand -grandmother? What do they represent, an unbroken line of foods and methods? Obviously, she has the availability to choose, to adapt, to interpret and combine, in ways that her mother could not even dream of them.
  • Is Greek urban cuisine traditional? Let’s see the case of moussaka, one of the best known specimens of Greek urban cooking. Moussaka is an eggplant and ground meat dish covered with a thick layer of bechamel sauce. It can be made with other vegetables besides eggplant, such as zucchini or potatoes or artichokes or a combination of them. A Lenten version is dated already in 1920; a dish also called moussaka, is made with snails instead of ground meat and originated in Eastern Crete. A version which is not made with bechamel sauce and its last layer is of hardtack or beaten eggs was named in the Greek cooking books of 1929-1960 as “moussaka imitation”. Food scholars believe that the word moussaka is of Arabic origin; the root saqq in Arabic means chop. Some scholars also believe that Arabs introduced moussaka in Greece, when they brought the eggplant. They propose that Maghmuma or al Muqatta’a, a dish from the Baghdad cookery book, that is a 13th century Arabic cookbook, could be the ancestor of moussaka. 
  • Eggplant was introduced into Greece in 12th century but there is no mention of moussaka until the late 19th century. Moussaka is also found in Turkey. In 1862, Turabi Efendi published the first recipe of mussaka (Turkish Cookery Book). The Turkish dish is made with eggplants, or other vegetables, cut into small cubes and ground meat either lamb or beef. It seems likely that turkish musakka is quite related to the Arabic recipe.
  • But what about Greek moussaka?  In 1920, when the Ottoman occupation was still fresh, Nikos Tselementes, a Greek chef of Siphnian origin who grew up in Constantinople and trained in France, had already devoted himself to “clear” Greek cuisine of Turkish flavors. Thus, he added a French sauce, bechamel, to moussaka, in order to “free” the dish from its Turkish “past”.  Moussaka, a Europeanised dish of Arabic origin which introduced in Greece via Turkey, became one of the characteristic dishes of Greek urban cuisine; it was needed many ingredients and plenty of time that a woman from an agro-pastoral community could not waste on a food.
  • The history of mussaka implies that urban cuisine is more responding to new ingredients, cultural and religious influences, trade and fashion. It is flexible. Urban cuisine can create tradition however this tradition is receptive to changes, influences and interpretations.
  • Ultimately I believe that “traditional” Greek cuisine is an evolving hybrid. It has the hallmarks of travels, trade, agricultural development, immigrations, inventions, cultural contacts, religion, politics, memories, history; past and present have always coexisted, the future is out there. What a solemn feeling if we would see the few stones where our daily cooking could stood without them! After all, culinary heritage combines conservation and innovation. And even if lifestyle changes, it can be an important source for re-creation of gastronomic knowledge and practices.

And here is the likely source of moussaka! 


“Cut fat meat small. Slice the tail thin and chop up small. Take onions and eggplant, peel, half-boil, and also cut up small: these may, however, be peeled and cut up into the meat- pot, and not be boiled separately. Make a layer of the tail at the bottom of the pan, then put on top of it a layer of meat: drop in fine-ground seasonings, dry coriander, cumin, caraway, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. On top of the meat put a layer of eggplant and onion: repeat, until only about four or five fingers’ space remain in the pot. Sprinkle over each layer the ground seasonings as required. Mix best vinegar with a little water and a trifle of saffron, and add to the pan so as to lie to a depth of two or three fingers on top of the meat and other ingredients. Leave to settle over the fire: then remove.”

(Clifford Wright: Is this the first Moussaka?) 

 Recipes for Greek moussakaGreek Gourmand,  Kalofagas,  Organically cooked

          Turkish musakka: Turkish Cookbook