Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The snow is back!

Well, it is past the middle of December after all... and to have 6 degrees Celcius in Moscow is out of the ordinary. Last night it started snowing again, the temperature dropped to -3 and I think this is the beginning of the beautiful winter! I'll miss part of it, as I am going to Greece next week for the holidays.

I went to two parties over the weekend. The company party was a lot of fun! We played games outdoors, in the mud and under the rain, there as the show of the people with the fire balls (usual Russian show, but it was very nice to watch the group swirling the fireballs in the dark night, under the rain, I thought I was in the middle of the woods in Siberia!), there was a great performance of drums in a wooden gazebo (the whole place, including the floor, was vibrating from the music and the people dancing), there was a nice dinner and dancing afterwards. We spent the night there.

Then on Saturday Evelyn had a Christmas party. So, as soon as I got back to Moscow from one party on Saturday afternoon, I had to prepare for the next! So, I cooked (cheese pie with my mom's fyllo which I made, cheese spread with curry, cabbage and carrot salad, semolina and almond cakes), I got dressed, I packed the food and went to her house. We then finshed the cooking there. The party was a great success! Very different people, from many countries... Everyone enjoyed themselves! I ended up spending the night at her house, since the last guests left at 3:30 and we then had a drink and reviewed the party...

Tomorrow there is the Corporate party of our company. And on Saturday I am going to the opera at the Novaya Opera to watch the Snow Maiden.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

(Work - Rework - Pending Work - Workload) New Year :)

Hello you all!

Very brief summary for the autumn for me:

September - move from Burhaniye, replace İstanbul
October - repair at home, study, cleaning, working
November- working, working, working
December till now- studying, studying, studying
After December 18 - to mid-January! is planned for semi-holiday - cooking, crafts, visit to Bursa and preperations for work & study :)

And I want to kick off the season! - Christmas - Kurban Bayram and New Year for this at the same time!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

First meal in Moscow

As promised to myself, the first meal I cooked in Moscow was trahano, the Cypriot one... It was one Saturday, a couple of weeks ago. There were still boxes in the apartment, but it was the first Saturday I was at home, so I had to celebrate! Then, next Sunday a friend came to help me put books in the bookcases. Of course, I cooked lunch for the two of us.

While preparing the dough for the cheese pie, I was thrilled to realize that the flour here in Russia is IDEAL for rolling out the fyllo (the dough leaf). My dough and fylla came out perfect! As a filling, I just spread tvorok (the simple Russian white cheese that ranges from creamy to hard dry) and sprinkled paprika on it. The result was delicious! I also cooked the red trahano from Assos, Tijen's gift. It was also delicious!

Last week I was in Athens - it was a great break, I saw family and friends and enjoyed the very mild weather! My mom came down to Athens as well and we spent time with my nephew. Christos - Kalliopi's brother - also happened to be in Athens for one day and it was a pleasure to see him.

Maria - a close friend of mine - gave me two new types of trahano: one sour but containing tomato (made by her mother in law and herself) and another white and sweet. I cooked the sour one yesterday. It was exceptionally rich and very tasty... I'll try the other one at the end of the week... Well, I said before that I could live on trahano, if there was no other food in the world. And I think that this story proves it.

No other major news. The weather is very mild here, considering the time of the year and the fact that I am in Russia. This week the temperature reached +6!!! This is "warm" for Moscow wintertime...

Friday, November 10, 2006

I moved into the new apartment!

Yesterday was the first day that I slept in the new apartment. Not all of my things are unpacked yet, but today half of the rooms will be set up and livable. Over the weekend I plan to take everything out of the boxes and also put the books in their place... This will take me some time, as the books are far too many! I realize this only when I pack or unpack them! I thing that one quarter of the boxes were books! A friend of mine is coming to help me. We'll have lunch: trahano (I promised this would be the first dish to cook in the apartment) and tyropitta (cheese pie) with home made dow.... I think it is a very appropriate lunch for a cold winter sunday.

The weather is a little crazy... It is snowing in the evening and during the night, but in the morning the temperature rises, half of the snow melts - and becomes mud - and it rains. I can't say though that I have had trouble because of the weather thus far... I walk to where ever I want to go without hassle.

Last Monday a friend and I went to the performance of the Maurice Bejart ballet, in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. It was a fantastic performance! They presented four ballet pieces, representative of Bejart's past work but also of the future of the ballet (http://www.elementmoscow.ru/articles.php?i=173000&s=02-in-depth) .
I was moved to tears by one piece, a solo performed by a male danser. But the most amazing situation was when my friend - without knowing the title of one of the ballet pieces - sensed it and related it to a personal story! The Tchaikovsky Hall was also impressive!

Next cutlural event for me: Rossini's Cinderella on Wednesday evening. The orchestra director is Theodoros Courentzis, a Greek who is called "the maestro of Siberia" because he is working with an orchestra in a Siberian city and who is thought to be one of the most promising conductors.

Time to go home and unpack more kitchenware...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Just to say hi!

It's been some time since I've been able to access internet. I am busy arranging everything, so that I move into the apartment. I'll get the keys on Saturday and I'll move in mext week. On Sunday I need to go for shopping - this time I'll have a car and a driver with me, so I won't relive the mega adventure....

I am looking forward to settling into the apartment, getting a computer and be in regular touch with everyone. And also follow up on your ideas about activities and research which you sent me in September, just before I left Cyprus.

Although it snowed twice already - on Sunday night and today - the weather is keeping quite well. It is November but most of the days the temperature is above zero. This is mild for Moscow at this time!

I am dying to see the article on the Lezzet magazine! I am still loughing at your email title: "Famous gourmet and Kavala cuisine authority"....

Regarding Orhan Pamuk, I have ordered his book Istanbul before the announcement of the Nobel prize. I saw it at the Athens airport bookstore and want to read it. Have you read it? There is another Turkish writer about whom I read recently and meant to get his books if they are translated in Greek or English, but I don't remember his name now. I'll look for it and we'll discuss. I have also ordered an interesting book on Jewish food, with a lot of information on life of the people in different countries, a lot of pictures etc..

I won't keep talking about books and cookbooks, my time at the internet cafe expires shortly...

The famous gourmet and Kavala cuisine authority says good bye for now!

Friday, October 27, 2006

B(ooks) & B(ayram) ~Ç

Illustration is from http://www.redhousechildrensbookaward.co.uk/ )
I had a quite relaxing week, after the tiring days of working and travelling from/to Ankara... So when I read your efforts to learn French and do some shopping I felt tired even while i was reading....

After you wrote the details about Russian grammer, even French seemed quite easy... I discovered through National Center for Language that:

There are 422 words in current Turkish from Greek, 14 words from Rumca ( i don't understand the difference it is either politic or etimologic may be meaning from Pontus language, ancient Greek?) and 40 from Russian! Borç (borrowed money), izbe ( very old and bad conditioned place) haraşo ( basic knitting stitch) are from that 40... I don't know how they are written in Cyrill alphabet, but i am going to start with them when i will come there... :)

Books, books... Christos already celebrated Orhan Pamuk's Nobel prize.. The attitudes towards him quite mixed, like mine... I liked his one of the first books, cannot read one, read one of the best-sellers in a very bad mood etc. So I am trying to make my mind too about his writing mastery....

However, i myself started some kind of writing process: Writing for kids! First i registered to a "Children Literature" course in Bilgi University and also i am in a kind of enterpreneur for children books.... Have i already mentioned it to you?

And Ramadan Bayram is over... We call in daily - language as "Şeker Bayramı" Sugar/Candy Bayram which radicals don't like... However our "Bayram"s are really sweet, special sweets are prepared, candies and chocolates offered to visitors... For this Bayram, we cooked sarma, "şekerpare", "güllaç" and "trufle". I will give the recipe for Güllaç, as i promised in the previous post...

Good Luck / Bonne chance / İyi şanslar (For Greek and Russian, i have to study<<<)

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Mega Adventure at the MEGA Mall

Last Saturday I had the brilliant idea of going to one of the 3 malls that are just out Moscow's MKAD, i.e. the 3rd ring road. One can take the metro to almost the last stop and then take a mall bus. I had done all my reasearch - and optimization ;-) - beforehand on two of the malls, regarding exact location and instructions of how to get there. I had been to one of them already and decided to try the other. It looked more convenient, as the bus ride after the metro stop was shorter. The web site - in English and with a lot of information - was saying that one would not have to wait for the bus for more than 15 minutes.

I suggested the idea to a new friend of mine, Evelyn, an Irish girl who is spending the year working in Moscow. She found it good and joined me. We met at 10 am and went happily to the mall. Indeed, we did not have to wait at all on the way there. The bus was full of people, but we did not experience any trouble. We walked, shopped, we had coffee and a long chat, had lunch, crossed IKEA at a leasurely pace - I decided on what I need to buy for my new apartment - we had lunch at IKEA - where I met someone I knew (what are the chances of that in a city of 12 million people!!!!) and then got to Achan. There we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the store! I have neven seen so many people in a store, not even in America, in the big supermarkets and not even in Houston's Auchan which was bigger than this.

Anyway, after we finished shopping, we went back to the bus stop to get the bus back to the metro station. It was already 5:30 or so in the evening. Well, that's were the adventure started. Firstly, all the roads as far as the eye could see were totally blocked by traffic. We could see the bus coming, but it took more than 20 minutes to reach us, due to the traffic. Then, there were SO many people at the bus stop! We could get on the first bus but just as we were ready to, someone blocked the door and his friend from behind us started passing to him the contents of two big supermarket carts in plastic bags! The available space in the bus was filled with the supermarket bags and we stayed out of the bus. The lady who was in front of us insisted on staying on the bus. She was half inside and half outside the door, while the driver was trying to close the door! After many attempts the door closed behind her - and left her in one piece thankfully!

To make a long story short, Evelyn and I waited for another hour or so for the next bus, and then the next.... Did I mention that it was drizzling and it was cold? Anyway, we could not get on any bus, because once a bus would stop and open its doors (not all stopped, although they were empty), a huge force - the crowd - was pushing us and we could not fight back. There was no way of even getting close to the bus door!

Evelyn had suggested early on to walk to the metro station. I was not enthusiastic about it, since I knew that we could reach the metro station only after walking on the highway. But after loosing all hope that we could get on the bus with all our bones intact, we decided to start walking. In fact, many people were walking out of the mall and on the highway. We followed them and even managed to clarify where the metro station was...

So, the two of us carrying the shopping bags started walking (THANKFULLY, I kept myself and did not buy all the things I wanted to get, so we did not have to carry that much).... through the mall parking lot, onto the MKAD, at night, under the light drizzle, crossing the entrance and exit ramps, moving in between the cars, which were moving slowly due to the traffic conditions... we were on the shoulder of the highway when we realized that a bus was also moving on the shoulder of the highway, and passed just next to us! Fortunately, there was just enough room for us and for the bus! Closer to the metro station there were proper sidewalks. It was great to walk on the sidewalk, even if it was full of ditches with mud. But, we soon realized that a mini bus was behind us, moving on the side walk!

Our adventure lasted for about 15-20 minutes. We arrived at the metro station safe but very tired! We cancelled all of plans for the rest of the evening and each of us headed for our residences. I collapsed in the bathtub and then slept immediately!

Every time I'll look at my beautiful green handbag and my red snow boots, I'll remember this day!

The sheer number of people here is overwhelming! It is impossible to imagine that simple situations are so difficult here, just because of the crowds.

As my nephew said to me yesterday, as a comment to the letter I wrote to him: "Aunt, when you I read in your letter that Moscow has as many people as the whole of Greece, I fainted!"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's Tough to Learn Russian!!!!

Today I had one of my two weekly Russian classes. As I said to the teacher before we started, it's a torture both for me and I think for her as well! I think that I am good at languages - I speak four already. One would assume that it'll not be such a big issue to learn covnersational Russian. I don't have higher aspirations that that! Just to be able to communicate in every day life. Well, I am not sure I'll manage any time soon! Of course, it is much more difficult to concentrate now then it was years ago, when I was studying the other languages. But still! I am putting in the effort. I study. I write the exercises twice. To no avail, so far. This language is SO difficult!!! A Russian colleague confirmed the other day that Russian is probably the second most diffucult language, after Chinese! He was saying this to console me probably, but I am more disappointed since then!

Just to give you a flavour of what I have to face! Firstly, there are two forms of plural for the nouns (I am not sure this is true for all the nouns, but it does not matter...). The first form of plural applies when you are talking about 2, 3 or 4 things, people, etc - or number of things, people etc. that end in 2, 3 and 4, for example 24, 43, .... The second form of plural applies when you are talking about 5, 6, .... up till 20 and then about 30, 40, .... anything ending in 5, 6 or zero. What is the logic behind this???????? It beats me, really! And to make things worse, the terminations of the nouns are not consistent. The words change form in different ways!

Today I learned that there are 6 (SIX!!!!!!) cases for the nouns! In Russian there is still dative case, which was dropped from the Greek language long ago. I'll accept that, as I can understand the meaning and use of the dative (I am still assuming the underlying philosophy will be the same as in Greek, I may fall from the clouds next Monday, when Daria - my teacher - will explain what the Russian dative case is...). The worse part is that there are two cases which depend on the preposition after the verb and before the noun!!!!! In other words, if you put "with" before the noun, then the form is different from the form when you put "in" before it!!!!!!

And the last example, if you are not already convinced: there is only one past tense - I felt some relief when I heard it, as in Italian and in French the past tense is especially difficult. But the terminations of the verb in the past tense do not depend on the personal pronoun! They depend on the gender of the person!!!!!!!!!! In other words, the expression "I thought" has two forms, depending on whether "I" is female or male! What is the logic behind that!!!!

Anyway, it's a real struggle!

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's the Time for Trahano!

It is cold today! In the morning when I woke up at 6:30 it was -1oC and when I got out of the hotel it was 0oC! On the way to work I saw very few tiny snow flakes, probably the frozen humidity in the atmosphere. I already bought two pairs of boots for the snow - the apres ski type, not elegant at all, but warm and not slippery, which is all I care about at this point!

Well, as I have been saying, I am very comfortable at the hotel. But since it start getting really cold, I really miss the possibility to make a hot trahano soup (tarhana, for you). So, I thought that trahano is a good topic for today's post. For one more reason: as a warm greeting to my friend Artemis, who is going through some difficult times but I am sure she'll come out stronger than before! Artemis was the one who took me to the north part of Cyprus and showed to me all the places she knew from her childhood. I'll send our blog link to her, so she can follow our conversation from London where she'll spend the winter. And I thank her for "having me with her" yesterday, while she was watching Haroula in concert in London.... I wish I was really there!

Among all the things we analyzed (to death, probably) with Tijen and you last August, was the topic of trahano, which is a dish that I absolutely love and could live upon! I always have the taste of trahano that my yiayia was often cooking on the stove for us for supper in winter! In Cyprus there is yet another version of trahana, made with wheat and sour milk or yogurt (I think), which one can eat also as a biscuit without cooking. The first time I tasted it was at Artemis' house, on her birthday, a few years ago. She had invited a lot of friends - as usual, since she is one of the most social people I have ever met - and cooked as a first dish trahana with vegetables. I don't remember the rest of the menu, I am sure everything was delicious. But the trahana was unforgettable! It ended up creamy and full of taste, somewhat sour from the trahana. Since then, I tasted the trahana cooked with chicken stock - made by Mrs. Loula, another really great cook - but I prefer Artemis' version and I am always cooking the Cypriot with vegetables myself!

Well, I have with me TWO types of trahana: the Cypriot one - I could not leave it behind, when I emptied my apartment - and the red one Tijen bought for me at Asso.... Most probably, the first two dishes that I'll cook in my apartment will be trahana!

As I said, I'll send the link of our blog to Artemis and also to Yekaterina, another new friend I met here in Moscow. We had a great dinner and a long chat at the Japanese restuarant yesterday!

Regarding the photos, I am glad you liked them! I totally forgot to tell Christo to "censor" them so that I could hide the pictures of the patterns from you ;-)

Windows and doors are two of my favourite subjects! And in Aivali, there were SO many interesting ones! Did you like the picture of the yellow window and door you ordered while we were in Moshonissi?

I wanted to say for a long time but I forgot: please send my greetings to Sherife for Ramadan and in general!

And speaking of Sherife and remembering the copper coffee irbiks, I have to tell you that I found and bought some excellent pieces of old copper kitchen pots and other utensils... most of them are from the end of the 19th century! I am delighted and can't wait to put them in my kitchen... Pictures coming soon, once I have a computer!

Enough for now! I am going to the gym!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Have got my mail! ~Ç

When i came back last night to home, i found the envelope from Christos - photo CDs! I just looked at them and i loved your photos, how much detail you caught. Incredible!

I found this picture very artistic ( since it is 2 MB i can't load to the blog, this is less colored / impressionist version) and thought to have a very big one on the wall...

And, you have taken many windows and doors photos which we can make a beautiful collage.

PS. Don't ever assume that I didn't realize the samples you have taken from my Anchor magazines :P... [ I didn't make copied them for you :(( ]

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Notes from the internet cafe!

Your last two posts were lovely! I wish I could drop by for a weekend to accompany you to the bazars and restaurants!

And to know personally a second food writer! This is unfair!!!!!!! This was my first reaction! But then I thought I am fortunate because you introduce me too to your foodwriter friends.

I'll check all the web sites when I move into the apartment. I want to send you the electronic collection of recipes and books I have on turkish cuisine and we'll discuss - I am sure!

Speaking of bazars, I will always remember your mother's expression when she saw all the collanders I bought from Havran market, and her question: "don't they have them in Greece?" I have to tell you that I forgot in Christos' car the wooden spatula for turning the bread in the wood oven. And as I was writing these words, I read an email from him asking me whether there will be a wood oven in my new apartment in Moscow!!!

Letter from ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ to Çiğdem




Thank you very much for the pencil case.

1 October 2006


(this is one of the first two electronic letters he wrote; it has many orthographical mistakes, so don't copy the greek; notice also the date! he writes his name correctly, though)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I have another friend who is a food writer :) Ç

(Photograph from the website http://www.istanbulfoodworkshop.com/)

As you see i am very motivated to write :)

Last night i attended a book-launch, and i felt very intellectual and very New Yorker ( in all movies there is bookstore scene, well OK... in romantic comedies). The co-author is the sister of a closed friend of mine, the venue is an old building in Bebek - in Bosphorus-, in veranda of the bookstore... Since it is Ramadan, i didn't drink any wine, but it was place for it.. Özge, the author she is academician in Food History and the book on 19th century Ottoman Cuisine. She and the other writer also they run a kind of institute in İstanbul: İstanbul Food Workshop. They adapted the recipes to today with full of very nice pictures.

As a very interesting coincidence, i had a chance to taste one of trials it is helva with musk and rose water, very special one... Wait for soon, the English copy is coming!

And Katerina will be a celebrity for Turkish food community next month, since October matches Ramadan- this issue of Lezzet Magazine is fully Ramadan theme.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Ramazan Geldi, Hoş Geldi" - Welcome to Ramadan ~Ç

I am ashamed when I've read both Tijen's and Christo's comments; since even i am miserably lazy to write even a comment! So, flash news of the last one month, let's say since our immigration from Burhaniye...

  • Renovation at home: new kitchen cupboards are ordered for our old warehouse-kitchen; painting is continued.
  • The holy Ramadan month started! I love the warm atmosphere of this month, fasting, family iftar dinners, iftar dinners with friends, mosques with Mahyas, Karagöz & Hacıvat, "Ramazan pidesi" and Güllaç ( wait for my own recipe ;). I am all of the rest fun part of Ramadan, except the essence - fasting. This year my first trial resulted with disaster, i serioulsy became sick of headache and then v----ting :((
  • I started a project in Ankara. I am quite excited to arrange sometime for me in Ankara to visit my Mekkas: Akdeniz, Akdeniz ( Mediterrenean, Mediterrenan) a lovely restorant, Şıkdüğme - a fantastic hobby shop, Samanpazarı - fleamarket and if i succeed two suburbs- Nallıhan (the one famous with needle laces)and Beypazarı
  • I discovered this two blogs and fascinated by them and i believe you - you and Kalliopi, maybe Maria- like it. However I've doubts about Christos, Tijen: Crochetroo and Thimble .
  • And finally i would like to greet your father from here, I loved the idea he follows our blog :)

До скорого!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Apartment Hunting

Hello from Moscow!

I apologize to everyone for not keeping in touch frequently, but I still haven't moved into an apartment yet and hence, don't have easy access to personal email. I've started looking at apartments only this week. Moscow offers the biggest variety in apartment style and quality I have ever seen in any country I've lived in. Most apartments are furnished. I must confess that most of the times the style is not to my taste - I would say it is quite opposite than my taste! Additionally, one can find the strangest layouts and decorations.

Yesterday I saw a nicely furnished apartment, which had a study room with wood panels on the walls, green wall paper and decorations in between, Victorian style desk and book cases and a large iron safe! The apartment overall was very nice, but I was wondering who could use this room nowadays!

In any case, I decided to look for apartments in old buildings - called pre-revolutionary or early century (meaning 20th century of course). They usually have high ceilings, larger rooms, thick walls and wooden parquet floors. The window sills are so wide, that one can put cushions and create a little corner to sit and read.

I found 3-4 that are really nice and am thinking of renting one of them. Of course, one important factor is whether the apartment has enough space for my books and my kitchen utensils. The best one I saw so far is 5 minutes walk from my office, relally lovely but my books and kitchen stuff would not fit. I tried to think every possible way to fit in there, but today I decided that it is not big enough!

Anyway, I hope I'll get settled soon - it'll be after October 25th. Then I'll have internet, skype, email, etc... and I'll be fully on line!

On Monday I start Russian lessons!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Notes from a Moscow resident

It's been only about 20 days since I last posted, but there have been so many changes since then! Moving to Moscow, changing a job that I had for the last 8 years, getting into a totally different environment... Thankfully, I had a long and good vacation during the summer, so I was able to deal with the stress and rush of the last few days. And I was fortunate that my sister was able to come to Cyprus to take over everything that had to do with the movers and putting the house in order after they emptied it.

The weather in Moscow is unusually warm - it was 29 degrees Celsius. So, I get to enjoy the outdoors during the weekends. Yesterday we went to a huge park, with many impressive soviet buildings, two huge and beautiful fountains, markets that sold plants and flowers, a botanic garden and a forest with many lakes in it! We crossed only a small part of it, but we were walking for 5 hours! I had to struggle not to buy flowers yet, but I made a list of all the plants I want to buy.

Next week I'll start looking for an apartment and hope to be settled before the winter comes!

Closing, I would like to add few comments:
  • the lemonade recipe is given to me by Mrs. Loula, my "mother" in Nicosia; she is a great person, full of life and always giving to others; I always admire her ecxcellent relationship with her close but also distant relatives, from her side and her husband's side; she is also an excellent cook! I was always planning to help her pick olives from the many olive trees she has, but was always at a trip when it was time to pick the olives
  • you and the other lemonade-preparation group added pizzaz to the lemonade recipe, with the special ice cubes, the presentation and the beautiful photo!
  • I want to greet my father through our Arakhne; he has recently started to read our blog - and I am told he likes it!
No photos for this posting, but I promise that as soon as I get a computer I'll be posting many many pictures... and I still need to find a way to send you the pictures from our vacation...

Da svidanya! (see you again! - I'll be able to write in Russian soon, as I am starting lessons)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Limonata or Lemonada...~Ç

As a result of great teamwork, this holy lemonade is ready to drink...

Mum and me: squeezing the lemons, peeling, and making the mint-ice cubes
Şerife:adjusting the sugar
Tijen: taking the pictures
Ayser Hn: sponsoring with the garden...
And the oscar goes to you: for the recipe!

Whole-summer lemonade:

Ingredients: 2.5 kilos of lemon + 1/2 kg sugar ( for the ones who liked more sugarful may add more)+ 2-3 small mint bunches...

  • Wash and squeeze the lemons and grate 2-3 lemons to add lemon zest.
  • Add the juice (and any pulp that goes through stainer) into a pan and the lemon zest.
  • Add the sugar in the pan and heat the lemonade in low to medium fire. Stir continuosly, till the sugar dissolves.
  • The lemonade should not come to the boiling point. Turn it off when all sugar is dissolved and it startes to steam.
  • Leave it to cool completely. Put in a jar with 2-3 mint bunches and keep in refrigerator.
  • Use it diluted with water upon your taste.
  • Make ice cubes with mint leaves, serve and drink :) Afiyet olsun...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Photo Memories from a Lovely Vacation

It was a great trip! I travelled overnight from Kavala

to Mitillini

The boat trip was very exciting! Seagulls following the boat, the sunset, the fishing boats each having marked its fishing territory with the fishing lanterns and the nets.

From Mitillini, I crossed over to Aivali, a little town on the sea front with a majestic charactrer.

Memories of the past everywhere, in Aivali and Mosxonissi...

Lively colours of the present in Havran, Burhaniye and Cunda ...

I fully share all your highlights and would add the following:

  • food with intervals of food

  • the green waters and the majestic doric columns of Asso

  • my claim to fame - being interviewed by a food writer for a food magazine....
  • having a story for everything
  • the sunset seen from Seitan sofrasi, from Aivali and from Denetko
  • listening to the music in the car
  • the bibila lessons, the scores of antique mantilas with the interesting oya, the "treasures" I bought at the Burhaniye bazar, the wooden knitting needles, the endless reviewing of the pattern magazines, the plans for future vacations......
  • the hospitality of you and your mother, the warm company of Sherife, finding a new friend in Tijen

I think that, among the many passengers and their relatives and friends, we were the last ones to stop waving to each other, as the boat was departing from the port of Aivali.

με υγεία και του χρόνου!

(in health, next year also)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Güle Güle -"Adio" ~Ç

Unfortunately I couldn't paste Greek alphabets... But last night, after your "farewell" i studied alphabets and basic words... kalimera, kalinihta... And i find a gem!: Food and restaurants section for 3-4 pages.. So next time at least i will be able to communicate with your mum in our language :)

Thank you very much for your visit, for "Being just our reason"... I feel that i nurtered last week in many aspects... The highlights of a fish-memoried fish:

  • Our fish-theme dinner w Tijen
  • Your first manicure
  • Solution creation and conferences in your shop
  • Zeytinbağı-Zeytinbağı-Zeytinbağı
  • Future destinations: Crete, Moscow, Kavala, Athens ( previous Portugal remained)
  • 35 + 19 = 43 :p
  • Each will choose her own subject!
  • Never-fitting dresses in Ayvalık pazarı
  • A touch of spice ...

I know there are many, many more... But i want to keep all from "nazar"! As we and you say "Health to your hands and mouth"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

No comment :( ~Ç

(<- Photo, Tijen İnaltong)


My last post was in June, 17. Today I forgot the password first and I couldn't find how I was doing the small wave just before Ç! It is obvious that I am OK with creativity but I need to go long long long with punctuality.... Although I don't write I do many Arakhnes things, hopefully :) I prepared an executive summary for you to give an idea of two months
before we see each other next week in Burhaniye:

1) Apricot fest: Our next door neighbour is Tijen İnaltong, a food writer whom I known for 4 years from her workshops, books and her yahoo groups. She recommended the house - i must say bungalow- which we rented for this summer. There was "an" apricot tree in their garden and in June and early July we produced almost every kind of side-product from these apricots: Sun-dried as you seen in pictures, marmelades, pestil ( dried layers of fruit pulp as it is explained in the dictionary), juice and icecream - you may taste this last one!- You may find the link for Tijen's blog just below:

2) Weddings: In mid-June, there were two and in August, 11 there was one wedding ceremony. The first bride was my close relative and next door neighbour in mother's house, the second bride is younger of sisters whom we met in our Greece tour in Thessaloniki, just before to meet you! The older of the sisters is my friend in the States where i spent my 5-6 weeks together this year. So as you see my Greek visit yielded 3 good friends for me! The third bride is my ex-intern in the consultancy job, but she is like a cousin for me, and another coincidence after the internship she started to work in Yapı Kredi Bank which I worked for 4-5 years and her colleagues are my ex-colleagues at the same time. Small world! (I realized that I attended the first wedding in June, 27 in Gönen the town famous of needle laces in South Marmara)

http://gonenoyasi.sitemynet.com/ ( I found this site just i was looking a page for ypu to show Gonen, it is interesting, again Turkish, just surf. The name of the site is "oya" of Gonen, in one of your postings you did mention about the etimology of lace, oya etc. I love to talk about this issue, let's keep it to face to face)

Although to be in 4 different ceremonies ( 2 quite traditional, 2 more modern), I would like to write about "kına gecesi", unfortunately i couldn't load the original photos, so the info and photos from net. Kına means "henna" and this ceremony focuses on farewell of bride to exactly to her mother, own family and the objective is to make mother&daughter to cry. Now I am realizing that it is very psychodramatic way of eliminating the catharsis of especially the bride who is going to be in a totally new environment, if you think traditional families.

This brief explanation from the official site of Ministry of Culture, is you find time to visit you will see more about authentic marriage rituals: http://www.discoverturkey.com/english/kultursanat/halk-dugun.html

Night Next Before The Wedding Day, A Women’s Entertainment Where Bride’s Fingers Are Freshly Tinged With Henna ( Kına Gecesi):

This night in which the bride will be together with her family, relatives and friends all of which are women is just before the day of fetching bride as known the main wedding day. This night which is called “Kına Gecesi” is celebrated in the bride’s home. The bridegroom’s family and other guests are met and hosted in the bride’s home.
Usually dry henna brought by the bridegroom’s family is broken to pieces in a silver or cupper vessel by a woman whose father and mother alive, not experienced any separation. After preparing the bride, veil ornamented with red flake is placed over her head, and she is brought into the middle with accompaniment of hymn, folk songs about henna. Hands and feet of the bride are dyed with henna. The bridegroom’s side is under the obligation to put money in the hand of the bride. Dying ceremony of henna is different according to regions. The henna so dyed has such names and types as “iplik kınası” (henna for yarn), “sıvama” (smearing), “kuşgözü” (bird eye).
After leaving woman who came together for dying henna close friend of the bride remain with her and enjoy themselves till morning.

3) Olive oil

I am not going to write anything new about this divine gold liquid, however i will share with you the new tastes in Ayvalık and Burhaniye with Tijen's guidance. İnşallah, we will stop there with you, too.

The first one is Laleli, and my favorite is olive oils with original aromas, in which the aromatic herb or fruit is squeezed at the same time with olives, lemon and olive are processed at the same time for example.


The second is "Kürşat" and their olive pastes are delicious, unfortunately i couldn't find them on the internet, so you will see live!

That's all for this month, until see you next week.

Monday, July 24, 2006

In Memoriam

The little girl is my grand mother Katina, pictured with her father. She must be less than two years old, which means that the picture was taken either in 1912 or in 1916(*). At the bottom left there is the name of the photographer and at the right it says Trebizon.
This is the only picture of her as a child and of a member of her family.
I am wondering whether the photographer went to Pafra or Sampsous or whether my grandmother with her family went to Trapezous, maybe to visit Panagia Soumela.
These days mark the 25th anniversary of her death.
(*) My grand mother's identity card was stating 1911 as her birth year. However, she was always insisting that she was born in 1915 but her relatives said 1911 so that she could be considered old enough to be hired at the tobacco factories of Kavala.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪«Ανάβουνε φωτιές στις γειτονιές…» ♪ ♪ ♪

On June 23rd a very ancient custom takes place in Greece. As the song says,

They light fires in the neighbourhoods…’

in the evening and children and adults jump over the fires. In many areas of Greece the custom is performed in its entirety, including girls bringing the silent water from a well, a public water fountain or the sea (in the latter case, from fourty waves).

But we used to do only the fires, when I was a child. ‘St. John’s fires’ of the fires of ‘Kli'don’ (from the ancient word Κληδών), as we call them, because June 24th is the one of the days that our church dedicates to St. John.

All the children of the neighbourhood collected pieces of wood and grass and we were lighting the fire in the corner in front of our house. In this fire we also were burning the flower wreaths that we made on May 1st and had hung above the entrance door of the house. Then we jumped over the fire. I was afraid and managed only to jump at the edge of the fire, not really over it. I remember my mother, who was not afraid to jump over the flames.... Usually, after a while, the neighbour started ouring water on the fire over the wall of his garden and was spoiling our fun!

In the ancient Greece, this celebration was dedicated to the Sun and the Light and took place around the summer solstice - just like today. The first day of the new moon after the summer solstice was also considered as the first day of the new year in Athens in the ancient times.

The title of this posting is from a song of one of the best greek albums Άγιος Φεβρουάριος (Saint February). The themes of the songs are about Aivali and Smirni.

Does your mother remember this celebration in Thalassia?

I am leaving today for a remote Russian village, where I will not have easy access to internet. More news when I come back to Moscow, next weekent.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

The History of Each Place Written with .... a Needle

This is the title of the newspaper article, from the Kathimerini newspaper, announcing the exhibition of Greek needle lace at the Benaki meseum. I managed to go one Thursday evening.

There weren't many pieces, but there were unusual and very old pieces of kopanelli (do you remember my post a few months ago?) and bibila lace. Most of them came from the islands and mainly from Creta. Among the bibila pieces, were two smal handbags, presented as a gift to Queen Victoria, and two samplers with a variety of small flowers, trees, grass.... You can see part of one in the picture of the article. They were magnificent and - of course - reminded me of the book you gave me!

It was written that the name "bibila" comes from the turkish words "bir biri", which mean one next to the other. Is that the meaning? If so, it is most intersting to know that the greek term for this lace comes from the turkish words, because the turkish name for this lace "oya" probably comes from the ancient Greek word "ouyia" (still used today) which means the edge of the fabric, as the bibila usually decorates the edges of fabrics. We must add this topic to the list of issues to investigate when we start our research project for our book on lace.

Other important pieces in the exhibition were shoulder covers from Creta, made from thin linen, embroidered with colourd threads, in filtiré, with inlaid motifs. Very ellegant and very artistic! You would have loved them!

Another important note in the exhibition was the influence of the Greek lace tradition on the italian reticella lace. There are some excellent examples of reticella lace in the lace file I sent you with the Pandora's email some time ago - the one I had to break in three parts.

The exhibition was one of the events of the Coference of the International Lace Organization (OIDFA http://www.oidfa.com/), which took place in Athens in May.

Well, that's all for today. I am tired and will go to bed early, as I was travelling from yesterday afternoon till this afternoon. I flew over the Aegean - MOST beautiful at this time of the year! I hope you are enjoying the sea and the vacation life, and that's why I forgive you for not writing often!

Greetings from Moscow!

Sunday, June 18, 2006



I was away for 38 days during my last trip and the seasons changed. So, during my first summer weekend in Cyprus I spend the whole weekend taking out the summer clothes and putting away the winter clothes and washing carpets, blankets, clothes, .... what I should have done one month ago!

The news of you renting a house for the summer appeared magical to me! I am picturing a cure little house in a small resort town, near the sea. You could go to the sea every day!!! Magnificent! It is an excellent idea to meet in Burhaniye and/or in Lesvos! My plans for the next 2-3 months are a little up in the air, however I'll try to find time for some vacation. I've never been to Lesvos!

You really meant when you suggested the trip down the Aegean, from a Greek island across to a Turkish town and back again!!!

The capital of Lesvos is Mitilini and some times we call the whole island Mitilini - I think it is the only island
whose name is confused in this way.... Lesvos is the homeland of many artists. The poetess of ancient times Sappho (7th century B.C.), the folk painter Theofilos (end of 19th century - beggining of 20th century), Stratis Mirivilis one of our most important novelists and one of our two Nobel laureate poets Odysseas Elytis come to my mind now.

Here is a painting of Theofilos, very relevant to our blog's name. There is a museum with many of Theofilos' works at Molyvos.

One of Mirivilis' novels is called "Panagia the Mermaid".... Now that I think of it, it is one of many many many examples of how the sea is weaved into the life of the people in a very natural way... I now found out that the name comes from a fresco in this little chapel, which is called Panagia the Mermaid and is located in the village where Mirivilis was born.

Lesvos is also notorious for two products: ouzo (especially from Plomari) and the most famous Kalloni (meaning Beauty) salted sardines (a strange name to be associated to salted sardines, don't you think? in fact, it is the name of the bay where these sardines are caught).

And I'll close with a folk song from the shores of Asia Minor - I am not sure if it comes from Aivali or Smirni. It is a dialog, probably between a mother and her child. The translation is not making it justice, but I am sure you'll sense the sentiments behind the words. I love this song! I think it is best sung by Domna Samiou (I'll introduce her to you in another posting).

In one of the upcoming Pandora's envelops I intend to include a CD with the traditional songs of Asia Minor, Konstantinoupoli and Smirni, as well as new songs about these places. I am not sure how soon I'll be able to compile this, but I have it in my mind.

Don't worry about the change in the format of the blog... we'll fix it.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Troubleshoot....Ohmmm ~Ç

After publishing two posts today there is a huge blank in the middle of the blog... I hope this posting will recover it....

I had found this image when i am looking for knitting and waited to post a suitable theme, it is for this troubleshooting one, c'est la vie !

Baptism-Bez kesme & Burhaniye ~Ç

I loved your Baptism preperations, however i tried to remember whose Baptism is this - it is dramatic, i know :(- Your Venezulean friend's youngest? And unfortunately i couldn't see in detail your bibila lace... i hope you will be able to take a closer photograph....

10 days ago, I participated to the one of my friends "faşadura-bez kesme (cutting fabric) " ceremony. She is five-months pregnant for a boy and faşadura is a Jewish ceremony for baby preperations, the term is Spanish most probably, have you heard it before? This is from a French web site for baby-showers...

Turquie: La "Fasadura" est très populaire parmi la communauté juive.Organisée au 7ème mois de grossesse, c’est une fête célébrée entre femmes uniquement , pendant laquelle un cérémonial est organisé autour de la découpe d’une étoffe blanche qui sera gardée pour confectionner le vêtement de baptême du nouveau-né.
Il pourra aussi servir pour confectioner le doudou du petit.
) (http://www.laurencesalzmann.com/photos/anyos_munchos
this is where i got photo, it is again from Turkiye, Ece Mizrahi's faşadura ceremony and it is from 80s i guess from the ladies haircut and earrings' style :P)
And this is Turkish one I am going to translate the basics however i do wonder how much you are going to get about it :)

türkiyeli yahudilerin geçmişten günümüze yaşattığı önemli geleneklerden biri de doğacak bebeğe giysi hazırlama günü olarak tanımlanabilecek faşadura'dır. faşa giysi anlamına gelir...faşadura, hamileliğin 5. veya 7. ayında pazartesi veya perşembe günleri, (inanca göre dua kapılarının açıldığı, tevrat okunan günler) anne adayının evinde, yakın akraba, eş-dosttan kadınların katılımıyla gerçekleşir. önce bir masa hazırlanır. masa güzel bir örtüyle ve çiçeklerle süslenir. eve gelenler masanın etrafında toplanır. bebeğe gömlek dikilecek kumaş (genellikle ince patiskadır) masaya serilir. toplantıya çağrılanların maddi gücüne ve aileye yakınlığına göre getirdiği hediyeler üstüne konur. doğacak çocuğa bereket dilemek için kumaşın üzerine şeker ve para atılır. yakınlar arasından, henüz anne ve babasını kaybetmemiş kadınlardan biri makası alır ve dualar, iyi dilekler arasında gömleği biçer. gömlek biçilirken törene katılanlar bebek için hayırlı, uğurlu, sağlıklı olması için dualar ederken, anne için de "a la primera boz" temennisinde bulunurlar. bu, "tanrı bir avazda (bir tek çığlıkla, bağırmayla) kurtarsın" anlamına gelen ispanyolca bir deyimdir. bu gömlek daha sonra özenle saklanır ve bebek doğduğunda ilk olarak bu gömlek giydirilir.faşadura töreni daha sonra hep birlikte yenilip içilerek tamamlanır. bu törenle, hem tanrı'ya "sen bana bir nimet verdin, ben hamile kaldım, ben de sana olan inancımı, güvenimi bebeğe hazırlık yaparak gösteriyorum" denmektedir, hem de "hiçbir dilek emek harcanmadan, onun için hazırlık yapmadan gerçekleşmez" diye özetlenebilecek bir yaşam felsefesi sembolize edilmektedir (http://sozluk.sourtimes.org/show.asp?t=fasadura)

And Burhaniye... For this summer we rented a summerhouse in Burhaniye( http://www.burhaniye.bel.tr/), very close to Ayvalık if you heard and just opposite to Midilli (Lesbos) island. We are going to there this Tuesday morning and except some occasions in İstanbul we are planning to spend summer there. It is to early mention it but i am dreaming to visit Lesbos, i will take my passport with me. The first question could you manage to come there, Burhaniye, this summer and the second one can we make it to visit Lesbos together this summer?

I am looking forward for your answers ;)

(PS: My draft posting published finally it is just under your last two posts, i loved your copper kitchenware and the iron cast ones, and also your St.John's wort writings and once again i think that how much we have common!)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pots and pans

I am returning to Cyprus tomorrow, after another very long absense! To celebrate the occasion - and to remember how my house is - here is a picture of my collection of moulds and copper pans. I got most of them in America. I love copper kitchen utensils!

I also love cast iron utensils! Decorative as well as of use. I had bought a set of heavy cast iron frying pans, which have become completely non stick with the use and care. Last week, while in Athens, I made spinach pie and since I could not find the oven dish, I decided to bake it in the large cast iron frying pan. It came out excellent! I will be using it to bake pies from now on.

The lavender in the picture is from my lavender plant.

The other plant is fried "sword grass" (spathohorto), as we call it. In English it is called St. John's wort; scientific name Hypericum Perforatum. Have I ever told you about this? We have been using it in our family as long as I remember... It is actually a small bush, which produces yellow flowers around this time of the year. We put the branches with the flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) in olive oil and leave it in the sun. The oil becomes orange colour - we call it "sword oil" (spatholado). We then keep it in bottles and use it on wounds. It has very strong healing properties! My grandmother and my great aunt (her sister) prepared it every year; my mother and my aunt (her cousin) still do it. I recently learned that one can use it on the face, as a moisturizer. I tried it and it does leave the skin really soft. I never asked myself where the name came from, but I recently was told that it probably comes from the old times, when people used it on wounds by swords.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

After a very long time....

Well... it has been too long since either of us posted in Araknhe! Most of this time I was in Russia and you were in America! I was checking whether there was a new post but did not have the time to write.

I am still in Moscow, returing to Athens tomorrow after one full month abroad (Germany, Netherlands, England - one day in each of these countries - and then in Russia for three weeks). We started a new project with a Russian steel plant, located east of Moscow in a small town is in the middle of a forest with artificial lakes. It would be very nice if it were not for the moskitoes, which make it unbearable to stay outside.

As you remember, my mother, sister and friends came to Cyprus for the baptism. We all had a very good time! Till the baptism everyone was busy with the preparations, as my sister made everything (clothes, the decorations and even the cross that the god parent is giving to the child) by hand, with the help of my mother and our friends during the last two days! Here is the dress, made of thin silk and soi sauvage from Soufli
My sister designed it and made it with my mother. My sister was wearing the same design in blue and white. Can you see the bibila lace around the neckline? It was my only contribution to the baptism! Kalliopi decorated the basket used to take the clothes to the church.

Christos, Kalliopi's brother, with my younger sister decorated the baptism candle.

The church was a very small one. It was actually a cave in the rock.

Many more photos from the baptism when we meet!

Unfortunately, we did not get to celebrate Easter properly this year. We were all in different places and the preparations for the baptism took priority. I managed to avoid travelling for two full weeks so that I could stay with my mother and sister while there were in Cyprus and then Athens. It was good! I got to see my boukamvelias starting to bloom. The pictures are not so clear, as I used my mobile. For a long time I wanted to reply to your Bahar Geldi message with some flowers from my verandas and I took these just before I left for the latest trip.

I am looking forward to hearing your news from your latest trip!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

American Way, Finally!!! ~Ç

As you've already seen this post was "drafted" since April 25! Almost 2 months past and of course the agenda is changed. Very briefly the highlights from tha days in the States:

MY Sex and the City t-shirt!

  • Turkish Night in Boulder
  • Easter- Egg Hunt
  • Greeley Museum- Pioneers' Spirit
  • Mexican food
  • Jazz - Maria Scheneider
  • San Francisco-Asian Culture
  • Napa Valley - Falcon Crest, Copia, vine, wine...
  • Colorado mountains...

I am hoping to write in these titles someday, but for sure i must write about Copia- The Culinary Center in Napa, maybe you already know or have been.

İnşallah :) from now on - although it is summer- we post everyday!!!!