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Friday, 30 May 2014

Geraniums (Γεράνια)

Someone was once asked what their strongest memory of Greece was. Their answer was very simple: geraniums in olive oil (and feta cheese) cans.
Although those cans still exist, I notice that terracotta is replacing them, sometimes also in plastic form. People still use cans for transporting olive oil extensively, and of course they do re-use them. 
Although this may be related to not seeing the cans as much as you see terracotta these days, I think there is another reason why we are seeing more terracotta: it's prettier and tidier, and it's much easier to maintain and keep clean.
Then there is also the natural ground, the balcony terraces, and the renewed interest in stonework and other receptacles found in nature. They too display their own charm. And while commercial businesses don't prefer oil cans, they still love geraniums. 
But the oil can does have a distinctive charm of its own. Private home gardens are still full of them. So I'll take some photos of oil cans another time.

All photos taken in Hania this month.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Strolling (Βόλτα)

I took my Nebraskan charges for a stroll through Hania today.


A Greek shopping experience cannot be complete without a walk through a street market. The biggest one in Hania is, naturally, the Saturday morning one, because people are more likely to do their shopping at the weekend. But a walk through a street market is also a leisure event for many of us. What's more, it takes you outdoors, and the Saturday laiki is located in the most picturesque area of Hania, in the old town, near the Venetian harbor. I got there a little earlier than my group, so I could buy 4kg of tomatos (€2.50) and 1kg of cucumbers €1), and get them back to the car before we went on the stroll.

The tour started off at the crumbling Venetians walls near the street market, which was our meeting point. The walls at this time of the year are full of caper bushes. Then we entered the street market, where I talked about the three different categories of sellers: producers (they sell what they grow), wholesalers (they sell what they buy), and non-food sellers (where you can buy cheap used/new clothes, bags, shoes, curtain fabric, etc). The market is very busy throughout the whole selling period of the day; there isn't a moment it isn't at its peak.



Apart from the regular fruit and vegetable offerings,



... every now and then, we'd stop and try some honey, cheese, olives and desert alcohol that the sellers themselves simply dish out to the visitors. They can tell apart the tourist from the local.



They bought a bunch of chickpeas to peck on while we were walking through the market,



... and they also watched the basket maker doing a bit of on-the-spot weaving,



... while some sellers proudly discussed their wares with the group.

The street market ends at Koum Kapi, where you can take a left turn and end up at the marina near the Venetian harbour.



There's a sponge seller here most days. Note the baskets in the photo - they are the same ones that the man above was weaving.



My Nebraskans enjoyed the harbour most of all, as can only be expected.



And I really enjoyed showing off Hania to them.







We also passed the site where The Two Faces of January was filmed (it's screening now in the UK).




And there were other lovely Greek things to look at apart from the food: they bought Made in Greece sandals, and we passed a unique jewellery store where we found the most exquisite pendants, all made in Iraklio, from shells and precious stones (for my next personal purchase, when I'm rich).



I know my Nebraskan charges were surprised by many things they saw here, but I was also surprised by one thing they told me: the soda/pop/soft drinks and ice-cream here have a better taste than back home, and they taste more natural because they contain real sugar. Come on, America, you can do better than that, surely!


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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The importance of environment in the sustainability of Cretan society

Here is a sneak preview of what I will be talking about this afternoon with some visitors at work.

The importance of environment in the sustainability of Cretan society
Maria Verivaki, 
English Professor, MAICh
Food blogger, 
http://organicallycooked.com and https://www.facebook.com/OrganicallyCooked

SUSTAINABILITY: The environment is the most important aspect - a conducive climate and manageable landscape provide the conditions for sustainability. Globalisation erodes the natural environment, making it less sustainable; for this reason, the environment needs to be protected.

CRETE:
The island of Crete provides a good example for studies in sustainability in the modern world due to its small size, insular nature and strategic location. The environment of Crete helps to sustain it throughout the modern processes shaping the interconnected modern world. It is not just a coincidence Crete forms the beginning of European civilisation, and that the town of Hania has been inhabited continually for over 5500 years since approximately 3500 BC.

ANCIENT CRETE:
The island's environment provided the basis for sustainable life through its temperate climate and fertile soil - ancient people's basic needs (see Maslow) could be met by the environment.


TRADE:
Trade is an important aspect of sustainability. The ancient Cretans did not have everything they needed/wanted, but what they DID HAVE gave them the opportunity to do business with other societies. The following factors helped them:
- they became highly skilled seafarers and had very advanced sailing knowledge for their time
- they became a highly organised society, forming the basis of European civilisation as we know. This is a sign of primitive urbanisation: it was absolutely necessary for trading purposes.
- they had valuable high-quality products for trading: olives and oil, grapes and wine.
- the location of Crete meant that it was at the forefront of technological developments: Cretans helped disseminate knowledge from the ancient worlds surrounding them to the slowly developing Europe.

ENVIRONMENT + TRADE + TECHNOLOGY (+ therefore ORGANISATION) 
SUSTAINABILITY

TIME changes everything:
- natural and man-made disasters (eg earthquakes, invasions, wars) occur
- people's commodity preferences change (ie trade patterns and commodities change over time)
This all affects sustainability: different factors affect the sustainability of modern societies. As the world develops and urbanises to a greater degree, environment becomes less important in sustainability; we can now live in a highly concreted city, or in very extreme climatic conditions due to technological advances. Crete maintains its climate and lanscape to tolerant levels for sustainability. But the forces of globalisation create problems for sustainability in a small insular society. Sustainability is not about self-sufficiency: no society is truly self-sufficient. Employment becomes an important factor in the sustainability of a modern society, because it is a basic human need in the modern world. In the case of Crete, the environment continues to play a very important role to this end.

MODERN CRETE:
While AGRICULTURE continues to play an important role in the sustainability of the island, TOURISM has taken on a much greater role. But the role of the environment remains extremely important.



AGRICULTURE - olive oil, grapes and wine continue to be important trading commodities on the island, but they have changed in form, eg potential customers are just as interested in the labelling and packaging of the product as they are in the actual product.
* The well-known Mediterranean Diet is based on studies carried out in the post-war period in Mediterranean areas, namely Crete and Sicily, where it was found that people's level of health and well-being was extremely high despite the fact that they faced shortages and deficits due to the war. The Mediterranean Diet is now a driver in Crete's export market.

TOURISM - tourism is made up of various types, catering for different markets:
- mass tourism (eg package tours) is helped by the cheap European flight market: this kind of tourism rests on the coastline and weather (ie the environment)
tourism based on ancient history has always been a focal point of the tourism packages that Crete is able to offer to its visitors. Most of the archaeological sites form the basis of the earliest forms of European civilisation and they are located in areas of unique beauty with high heritage value.
- agro-tourism caters for tourists with specific needs and wishes: this kind of tourism rests on the landscape and the agricultural activities taking place on it (which rest on the environment)
- gastronomic tourism has become increasingly important in Crete because of the very high quality of fresh local seasonal produce (due to the climate and soil, ie the environment), and the gastronomic culture of the islanders themselves.
* According to some very well-known Greek celebrity chefs, Crete is the bastion of Greek cuisine. Crete is one of a very few places in Greece where both locals and tourists alike are able to enjoy local fresh seasonal food prepared and cooked according to the local culinary culture. Cretan cuisine is now a driver in Crete's tourist industry.


CRETE and the CRISIS:
No part of Greece has remained unaffected by the crisis. But it can be said that Crete felt the effects of the crisis more lightly than other parts of Greece. Crete's environment is what has shielded the residents of the island from the worst effects of the crisis. The main reasons for this are the following:
- Crete continues to produce high quality world-renowned agricultural products, helped by the climate and soil properties
- the local population still practices small-scale farming in their back yards (raising a vegetable garden, chickens and rabbits, etc), helped by having access to small plots of land close to their residence
- the tourism packages of Crete are highly developed and very diverse, able to cater for a wide variety of tastes, and often meet the requirements of most leisure holidaymakers.
- Cretans are still very regionalised in their loyalties, which can be seen in all aspects of everyday life - people base their daily choices on local options.

The photo was taken in a highly urban area of Hania in mid-March 2013. It shows what looks like a messy garden with a lemon tree in the middle. Look more closely: behind the garden is a chicken coop - the chickens are barely visible, but one is sitting on top of a rabbit pen. The area where the animals are kept will be covered by a shady leafy grapevine by the middle of summer (that's what the dry branches are: a vine about to start growing leaves). Next to the garden on the right are the remains of a wood-chopping session. The house looks unkempt and rather poorly; I believe economic migrants are living here, and not the Greek owner. But that makes no difference to what the photo depicts: it illustrates the frugal urban life in times of adversity.

SATURDAY MORNING: You will be visiting the street market (λαϊκή - la-i-KI) in Hania where small-scale producers from rural Hania sell their fresh seasonal local produce to the urban residents of the town for low prices. The street market shows the importance of the environment in the sustainability of Cretan society:
- local produce is highly prized by the locals
- the amount of local produce being bought and sold shows the loyalty of locals to local food
- fresh produce requires preparation and cooking time: Crete is an island full of cooks
- the prices are low, hence affordable to all
- the street market is also seen as a leisure-time activity


The greater one's pride in one's region, 
the stronger the level of sustainability.

THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY IN CRETAN SOCIETY:
Crete is well furnished with all the requirements needed to meet the demands of modern society. All over the world, people are searching for safer food and a pleasant way to pass their time, both of which Crete can offer to everyone, and at low costs. The Cretan environment protects the sustainability of Cretan society. Therefore, it must be protected, in order to ensure that this continues to be the case, especially now that there are plans to drill for oil on the southern coast of Crete, as planned for later in the year.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Mediterranean Diet as an Intangible Heritage

Food events in Greece are an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet, in the way that they exhibit the Mediterranean lifestyle. They involve a group of people - never one sole individual - who all play their own role in ensuring that a seasonal procedure goes according to plan. From the soil to the plate (or from the farm to the table, if you prefer to phrase it that way), each stage is followed, and a stage cannot be omitted. Omitting any stage in the process can sometimes be the cause of misunderstanding, but it can be altered to suit the conditions. The alterations to such seasonal activities are how traditions are formed, according to the time period.
The plan was to sit outdoors and have the meal...

Many of the lifestyle events involved in the Mediterranean Diet are one-off occasions  They cannot be repeated due to their seasonal nature, and therefore their results will be lost for the year if they are not conducted accordingly. When it doesn't go to plan, there is always a Plan B to follow, so that the ritual's offering is not wasted. The Mediterranean lifestyle revolves around the same seasonal activities that, at any given moment, are being done by different people at exactly the same time, and this is what is so special about the Mediterranean Diet, which is what UNESCO wants to protect when it labels it as Intangible Heritage. It is not just the food, but the way of life that the food revolves around which needs to be protected. Every different Mediterranean country has its own rituals and traditions associated with food, so there is no single diet. It just happens to revolve around similar food items that are combined in different ways according to many factors, such as one's locality, religion, available seasonal produce, customs, etc. The Mediterranean Diet has its base firmly grounded in the unique lifestyle, climate and landscape of the Mediterranean basin, combining festivals and celebrations related to the production of food. These events become the receptacle of gestures of mutual recognition, hospitality, neighborliness, conviviality, intergenerational transmission and intercultural dialogue.
The reason why the Mediterranean Diet needs to be protected as an Intangible Heritage is that it is now under threat from the forces of the globalisation and internationalisation of lifestyles. These movements cannot be prevented, nor is it desirable to stop them from taking place. But they are the main reason why the farming population is gradually being reduced and also why people lose contact with the land as they become more urbanised. These are accompanied by an increasingly homogenized and globalised food production system that disconnects food from its natural landscape.


We sometimes feel less secure about what we see on our plate because we don't always know its origin. This should not cause so much anxiety in a highly technologically advanced food system (except when things go wrong, but this is usually picked up quickly), but for some of us, it is matter of principle and pride to know where our food comes from, especially when our local food is directly linked to our identity and vice-versa. But our food is becoming more simplified and more processed these days, as we seek ways to reduce the time spent in the kitchen. Industrial farming is imposing new landscapes that are disconnected from the local people’s lives and the natural seasons, resulting in our alienation from our historical roots, and towards a change in diet based on rapid high-calorie sustenance.

The word 'diet' is associated in modern times with a low-calorie food regime; it can also mean the food that somebody eats on a reular basis. But the word actually comes from the ancient Greek δίαιτα, which means:
1. way of life in terms of nutrition, clothing, survival
2. what is required to survive, meal, food |food regime, specific nutritional program for health reasons, diet |medicine 
3. abode, residence |animal's abode 
http://www.greek-language.gr/greekLang/ancient_greek/tools/lexicon/lemma.html?id=60
Hence, the Mediterranean Diet is a way of life, not limited just to food intake.

It's now official: In a recent intergovernmental meeting held in Agros, Cyprus (a flagship community), on 28 and 29 April, Greece was given the task of coordinating the Mediterranean Diet as Intangible Cultural Heritage (as defined by UNESCO), and my workplace MAICh (www.maich.gr) will act as the coordination point for the Mediterranean Diet for this year until April 2015. Thanks are due to the Portuguese contingent, who used Greek letters for the logo design: the M stands for the mountains, while the γ for the sea should be interpreted as δ, which stands for Μεσογειακή διατροφή (= Mediterranean diet).

Can the Mediterranean Diet (read: Mediterranean lifestyle) be protected by institutions such as UNESCO? Cultural heritage does not end at historical monuments, landscapes or artifacts. It also includes traditions, customs and life expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts, and above all, a sense of community, which directly leads to a sense of identity. Fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.
I personally see it as a vital goal to promote the Mediterranean Diet in its place of origin (ie in the  countries of the Mediterranean basin) in the framework of a lifestyle. It is all very well to say that people can choose their lifestyle, but when our choices are gradually being eroded by the natural forces of internationalisation, we are forced to choose among alternatives that may not satisfy us (a bit like the state of Greek politics these days - we dislike the politicians we have, but we are required to choose someone among them to lead our country). In order to have good choices, we need to maintain what is dear to us, so that these choices will remain available, not just for us but for future generations too.


To better understand what is meant by the Mediterranean Diet, we can take as an example a food festival that occurs in the region. I will use the little feast that was celebrated on a completely local scale to make the world's biggest dakos, in order to make it into the Guiness Book of World Records. The fact that the feast centred on food was only part of the 'diet' - it involved the way the people congregated, every one setting out a chair to take part in the feast, watching the cooks prepare the dakos, then lining up (in the Mediterranean way - τουρλού τουρλού!) to be handed a piece of the dakos, making the meal communal, and finishing off the evening with live Cretan music and dancing made the feast a whole one.


The rain dampened the Plan A - Plan B was then executed (we went indoors).

The work that needs to be done in terms of safeguarding the Mediterranean Diet is to remind the older generation of their duty to the younger generation, and to educate the younger generation by encouraging a cooperative spirit among them and the local authorities who are entrusted with maintaining the cultural and traditional aspects of a community. The scientific community plays its part by ensuring that the modified food chain is traceable by continuous monitoring. At the same time, I don't believe the Mediterranean lifestyle will be completely lost if these actions are not taken, but every concerted effort helps to ensure that continued erosion does not destroy what we have. Our lives are becoming interconnected, and we are merging in many ways, but there are some things that will keep us distinct, and they are to be treasured, for that is where our sense of uniqueness comes from.
The photos were taken last September during the grape harvest to make the new year's wine supplies. The giant dakos was made at the end of August last year.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

School shark (Γαλέος)

I was at the street market today where I spotted some γαλέος, a member of the 'big fish' family, selling at €7/kg. Galeos is a good choice for fish because what you buy is all edible, except for the round bit in the middle of the steak, which is a bone. Very little bone comes with each steak, and the bone is easy to pick off.

There were four medium sized pieces, a small piece, and a scrappy end piece. I asked the stall holder for the four large pieces. I could tell that the fish would weigh in at about 2 kilos. I got out my purse, and it was at this point that I noticed that all six pieces were missing from the display: the dirty rat fink has stuck them all in my parcel!

- I'll give you the lot for €15, he said.
- No scrappy ends for me, thanks, I said. And take out that small bit - it's not even a fillet. 
- I can't take that bit off, he insisted. It's attached to one of the fillets. (Indeed it was, by a thread.)
Forgiven, I thought, but I still didn't want the scrappy end bit.
- How much do the four fillets weigh? I asked, looking sideways at the display sign on the electric scales.
- They're just a little under 2 kilos (ha! I was right!), which makes it €13.50. 
- Perfect, I said.
- And if I add the scrappy end bit for €0.50, you'll pay me just €14.
- OK, I said, lips pursed

I didn't bother to remind him that he initially asked for €15. I know a bargain when I see one. And I love the way I can always land a good price for whatever I buy these days. This goes for anything, from food to household items. Life is as cheap as you want it to be.

The fish was baked in the oven, with a tomato grated over it, some sliced fresh onion from the garden, a spot of olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. And the special ingredient, to stop the fish from burning on the top: I placed fennel weed from our orange grove ont he bottom of the pan, and on top of the fish (this was removed and discarded at the end of cooking time), which gave the fish a very alluring Mediterranean aroma. The fish served the five of us very nicely - Yiayia said it was really good.



The fish was accompanied by a garden-greens salad (artichoke, onion and purslane), with some of the tomatoes I bought from the street market. My son also made the tzatziki, now that the cucumbers are back in season.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Χαιρετούρες (Hand-shaking)

I want to be a responsible citizen, which means I have to vote in the forthcoming local (mayoral) and European elections, but my heart isn't in it. I know for a fact that whoever I vote for - party or candidate - is not going to do anything for me personally, or even for my family. My only option is to put my hopes on the person/party that I believe may do some good for the common interest. But the way things look now, especially in terms of the mayoral elections, there seems to be little hope of seeing this happen - there are few projects that I can envisage which will be done for the common good. It's clearly a case of personal interests. The mayoral elections convey this sense of a dead cause for me, after what I saw happening in town last weekend.

The main square of Hania is written as "Plateia 1866" (Piazza 1866, after an important historical period) in maps, but to the locals, it's called "Nea Katastimata", meaning 'new shops', because this was one of the first parts of the town to be rebuilt after World War II. Plateia 1866 remains a central part of the town to this day, as it is the main passing point for nearly everyone coming into the town: the central bus station is located only a few metres away, most local buses leave from here, the main taxi rank is also based here, and the road leading to the Venetian harbour starts from the square. Thus, Plateia 1866 is the kind of place that will attract candidates' election campaigns because they can shake a lot of people's hands.

As I was leaving the town on Saturday after doing my street market shopping (despite the nationwide strike action called by the street market unions over new legislation governing them, it was business as usual for Hania's street markets), I passed by the taxi stand looking out for my husband's cab, just to say a 'kalimera' and catch up with the morning's news. He wasn't there, so I decided to cut through the square to get to my car.

Just as I was about to walk through the square, a tall man wearing a suit and tie stopped me in my tracks. I almost felt like he was going to walk over me, as if he could not see me due to his height. Before I could react, he had shoved his arm under my nose and his palm grabbed my hand, or at least, the bit that he could touch, because each of my palms was wrapped around the handles of plastic bags containing mizithra, koulouria and tomatoes.

My initial reaction to a stranger trying to touch me on the road is to hug my handbag which was hanging off my shoulder. Something told me that this man (and his entourage: three smiling men wearing dark sunglasses) was not after my bag. My first thoughts went to the tomatoes - I was hoping that his meaty palms would not squash them. Imagine the mess it would cause. Worse still, those tomatoes were t that moment irreplaceable. I couldn't imagine this man walking all the way back to the laϊki to buy them for me.

The encounter was a brief one. The tall man did not wait for me to put my bags down to shake his hand. He did not even look at me. Perhaps he had already sussed me out ('she's undecided'); maybe he thought I looked like a foreigner ('she's not a registered voter'); most likely, he could detect my ignorance ('she doesn't know me'). Whatever it was that he had on his mind, he continued to charge forth through the small group of people that had congregated on the square, touching everyone's hands in the time it takes you to blink once. It took me a little longer to move away from the crowd to the other side of the square...

... where I spotted the father of a classmate of my son's. He spotted me too, and called out to me: "You won't forget us, will you?" As I smiled back to him in acknowledgment, my mind still on the tomatoes, I wondered what he meant by that. I understood immediately, when I saw another tall man wearing a suit and tie. This time, I was not stopped by the suit-wearer, as it was obvious that his accomplice had done the job on his behalf. I continued on my way to the end of the road, where I was about to cross to the side where the bus station is...

... when an ex-neighbour from my early years of living in Hania nearly crashed into me. "Hey," he called out, "what about us?" He was accompanying, you guessed it, another tall suit-and-tie man, who again did not extend his hand to me, because, once again, his accomplice had done that for him.

As I walked back to my car, I wondered how seriously people took these hand-shakers. That was about their most active moment - walking among the crowds, mustering what little support they could from people whose faith in the political system has been shattered in the past four years.

What can we expect from people who wear suits and ties in a Mediterranean summer resort town like Hania? They don't create jobs - the producers of agricultural products and the owners of hotels create jobs, not mayoral candidates. They don't create community projects - in post-crisis Greece, this has happened from grass roots ventures by the people who suffered a great loss of income during the crisis. European money is allotted strictly, leaving little leeway for it to slip away unnoticed.

And what of the broken footpaths on the roads of the town? The empty plots of land overgrown with dry grasses? The derelict buildings that can no longer take any form of renovation and present both a hazard and an eyesore for the residents? The empty shops whose landlords refuse to lower the rentals so they can be filled? The roads crammed with tables and chairs for smokers to lounge about, making it difficult for the less mobile among us to move around? The suit-and-tie men will not do anything about these things, apart from allow them to remain. They will simply continue to build up their high-profile connections, and perhaps (just perhaps) "help themselves".

We belong to that class of people who have plodded on without expecting the state to care for us. We look out for each other, and remain within the law. We don't even know our rights adequately, which is why we don't expect promises to be kept by politicians. We don't live in a place where just about anyone can become the mayor if they want. It's not just anyone who can become mayor. The suit and tie hide a particular breed of Greek male, which is out of our class.

A general state of confusion and disbelief pervades among voters as the main political parties in Greece show their true colours. Golden Dawn is slowly being outlawed; the former PASOK is trying to be reborn under the new name of ELIA; newcomers to the scene lack an agenda. SYRIZA has promised free electricity to the poor and needy, while the tax department has discovered that people who aren't poor and needy often view themselves in this way through their application for a share of the 'social dividend' that New Democracy is handing out. Notable examples of applications for the social dividend were provided revealed by the centre-right Kathimerini:
- a family of 2 living in Kifissia (a 'posh' Athenian suburb) owning property valued at 3.9 million euro and 65,000 euro annual income;
- a family of 4 in the island of Mitilini with a 200 sq.m home (not including the balconies!), living expenses totalling 20,000 euro and a vehicle worth 35,000 euro;
- a family of 3 in Melissia (another posh Athenian suburb) with an annual income of 155,000 euro and a swimming pool included in the family home;
- a family of 4 in Thessaloniki with property valued at 800,000 euro and annual income of 135,000.
The above applications were all rejected. But some applications warrant further investigation:
- 6 people living in a working class suburb of Athens, who have all stated that they are handicapped by at least 67% (the percentage has to do with the way the Greek state defines mental and physical handicaps);
- a 26-year-old with a low income and low level of property ownership, who supposedly hosts 25 people in his own home, as stated in their tax declarations;
- a 70-year-old with a low income and low level of property ownership, who supposedly hosts 22 people in his own home, as stated in their tax declaration
Greece has always had a poor class, in the same way as any other country. But the meaning of being poor in one country may be quite different from that of another country: while it's true that Greeks have become impoverished, most still have a long way to go before they can truly be regarded as poor, in the meaning that they truly lack money and possessions. To date, 265,000 applications have been approved, with 334,000 rejected, while 210,000 have yet to be decided - and applications continue to be made.

I can't actually single out one party whose policies I fully agree with. But that's what it means to be a unique human being living harmoniously in a society made up of many individuals. We continue to uphold differences that make us unique, but we converge on most points. That's not quite happening yet in Greece. A few too many still think that a hand-shake will do the trick.

UPDATE: After writing this blog post, I read my morning papers, and found an a few interesting articles stating roughly the same things that I wrote about. Protagon asked 16 mayoral candidates the following questions:
  1. Would you pass on the collection of rubbish to a private company?
  2. Would you host a gay pride parade;
  3. Would you build a mosque in your city?
  4. Would you host a cremation unit in your city?
  5. Are you for homosexual weddings?
  6. Do you believe that Christ was resurrected?
  7. Do you believe that state and religion should be separated?
  8. If you could choose just one cultural event to host in your city, which would it be?
  9. If you know there are gold deposits in the ground, would you allow mining?
  10. Which city do you hold up as a role model for your community?
Only 5 replied. That's pretty good, I thought. Pre-crisis, none would have.Some candidates are selling the same policies, eg for the tiny island of Gavdos south of Crete, a candidate is promising 'electricity and water for all houses, and transparency in the council's finances'. Aren't these things αυτονόητα? meaning 'taken for granted'?  Before we move on to reforms, Nikos Dimos writes (in the same newspaper), we need to change our way of thinking.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Weekend cooking spree

A week has gone by and I have not updated my blog. I guess I'm busy. Here's what I got up to at the weekend.

There isn't much in the garden at the moment that is actually edible, save the artichokes:


We got our first taste of zucchini, care of friends:

The vine leaves are now at their best - they need to be preserved:

At the same time, what is in the freezer needs to be eaten, to clear the freezer for the new growing season - spanakorizo with a dollop of tzatziki (again, the first we made this year, with the new season's cucumbers):

I also found some octopus, a leftover from my Lent purchases. It was cooked in wine and olive oil; it went well with the spinach rice:

This pumpkin waited a long time on the balcony for me to get to work on it. I wondered what its secret world inside its heart would be like... 

Here's what I found - a whole army of sprouting seeds:

All the pumpkin was chopped and par-boiled, to be frozen and used as mash where needed:

Pumpkin galaktoboureko is a favorite in my family, hence the pumpkin's first use:

Frugla cookinginvolves saving time, not just food. The bag of frozen spinach that I used in the rice was enough for a spanakopita (made with the extra filo pastry from the pumpkin galaktoboureko): 

The cooking spree has ended with a batch of koulourakia, made by my daughter (hence their perfect shape). 

I guess we really were busy.

All this food was cooked at the weekend. Sunday lunch was chicken in wine sauce - that just got eaten up too quickly to be photographed.

All recipes/preparation methods can be found on my blog by using the search engines provided on it.

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