Sunday, March 26, 2006

I just read the notes you put under the picture. I don't know if you'll believe it, but my first guess as to who your mother was, was correct! My first choice was the girl in the middle... second after the drum player, as you say... Then I searched again and found your younger aunt. They look very much alike I think, so I chose her.
Dear Çiğdem,

your last posting and the picture really moved me! I don't really find any more words to say, other than to thank you for sharing the picture with me! I tried to find who your mother is on the picture. Is she standing second from left?

My maternal grandfather was born in Avdira, very close to Thalassia, as you can see on the map! Next time you are over, we'll go to both villages

Today, after the celebration mass and the small reception, I went to Izmailovo park, which is the flee market of Moscow. Although the articles they sell nowadays are mostly commercial, one can still find beautiful handmade things. Among the things you would have liked: siberian cashmere shawls (hand knitted in lace patterns), hand painted plates from Uzbekistan, in beautiful blue colours and geometrical patterns (they brought in my mind the tiles in the beautiful old mosque Kalliopi and I visited in Skoutari - Uskudar, but I don't remember its name now...)

Speaking of Uskudar, a few weeks ago I came across the latest copy of Saveur magazine and read the article about the 100 best things they selected. Among them there was the Çiya Sofrasi restaurant in Uskudar, which was described as serving authentic turkish cuisine and was highly recommended. I found many more references and articles in the internet on the restaurant and its owner and chef. Have you ever been there? Next time I am over, we should go.

The week will be stressful and busy! On Thursday I hope to return to Greece, after almost four weeks in cold Moscow!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

March, 25 1950s ~Ç

( the second line of the students; the blonde girl, second on the left is my little aunt, my mum is the second girl on the right after the guy with drum, and older aunt is standing on the right of my mum after another girl, she has two hair braids)

This is very interesting example from the daily life of ordinary people in the history of two countries: My mom, two aunts and their best friends - like blood sister as they say "ahiret kardeş". "Ahiret" means the life after death which refers that their friendship is forever,- family members and almost all the village... People of Tıkızlı (Thallasia) Village Turkish Primary School, are celebrating March 25, independence day of Greece as far as i know from Ottoman Empire ! :)

I found this picture, while i were digging for my older aunt (büyük teyze)' s photos for her grandchild's third birthday :) I prepared a custom-made book for her as "Hilal's third year book"..

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Greetings from Moscow!

Καλησπέρα Çiğdem!

After I read your very nice posting, I made a cup of hot water, honey and lemon, which I am now drinking while writing this.

I am glad that I reminded your mom and aunts of the Μάρτη. Let's remember to make it for ourselves and put it on next March.

It is my third week in Mosow! I am very busy with work (sometimes staying up till 4 am) and I was again sick, this time with fever. After a few days of trying to fight it alone, I eventually went to the doctor, who gave me 4 types of medication. It still took one week to pass! I am not fully recovered, but I feel better. This winter has been particularly difficult!

I had forgotten the βεντούζες (şişe çekmek) till I read your posting! I never had them on me, but my grandmother - and later I - did this for my mother, when she had bad colds in the winter. In fact, now that I remember it, my mom used to say that the best technique was that of our great aunt Pagona - the aunt of my grandmother. After some time of simply heating the glasses and putting them on the skin, she used to move the last ones up and down, till they came off by themselves. I used to be very afraid of the whole ritual when I was watching my grandmother, but once I had to do it myself for my mother I did not feel it was so difficult. Now that I feel tired from work and from coughing, I wish I could have one session of βεντούζες!

I think that Moscow is a very peculiar city, but I can't really explain why.

The Kremlin is a mythical structure! I have seen it only from the outside, but I am always impressed by the towers (each has a different shape), the colours (brick red and green) and the church domes inside and around it.

Another paradox is the Red Square, which is far smaller than what it seems in the soviet parade videos. When I first saw it, two years ago, it was at night, it was empty, the cedars along the walls of the Kremlin were full of snow and the clock was ringing 9 pm - it has a very soft tone. I thought I was in a fairy tale...

The churches of Moscow are beautiful buildings, each with its own style, decoration, colours... St. Basil's at the end of the Red Square, seems like a toy.

I am thinking of photographing them in the summer. The two themes I will shoot in Moscow are the churches and the Kremlin towers.

On the other hand, you see many ugly buildings made of concrete. There are boulevards inside the city having seven lanes each way, a strip with trees in the middle and a side road with two lanes each way! The same extremes you find in people....

Anyway, on Saturday evening I went to the Novodevichiy convent, which is inside the city. It was the time of the Saturday vespers and there was a very harmonic women's choir. I enjoyed the mass. Tomorrow I am invited at the reception in our embassy for our independence day, which is on the 25th of March. And on Sunday I will go to the mass service for our independence day...

On the 25th of March we traditionally make fried cod fish in batter and serve it with yogourt garlic sauce. This is an exception during the 40 day fasting period before Easter. There are variations of the yogourt garlic sauce. My grandmother made it with smashed garlic, yogourt, dried bread crumbs, walnuts pounded in the mortar, salt and olive oil. Just mix well and serve with the hot fried fish pieces. Usually in our house the sauce finishes first, before the fish.

Kalliopi posted a nice comment about the kourambiedes, we thank her! I am not sure what she thinks about the βεντούζες (şişe çekmek)!

I hope you will have access to the internet when you are in the US!


Monday, March 20, 2006

Miscallenous .... ~Ç

Geçmiş olsun ( get well soon) Katerina’cım...

I feel that I cannot catch the pace of our Arakhnes... Last week – i must say the week before- i intented to write about LMV, childhood – as the theme of my “ex”-company’s year end meeting and all free associations came to my mind .... (I have written this 3 weeks ago! :()

Then, I had to complete Love was everywhere, then reply to your Vien-Greek writing...
Personally I am in a period “leave-move-change-start” and i thought to write sthing about this.. Then I saw you are sick... your home made remedies are very interesting and i wanted to write about it- OFFF... a lot of things to do, even for pleasure.

Anyway .... let’s move spontaneously... First remedies.. While I am writing these, i have cold too....

1- Echinesia
2- Hot water-honey-lemon
3- Hot milk-honey-ginger
4- Onion/sugar/honey... this is an impactful recipe especially for children recommended by a member of my yahoo group “Hayattan Renkler / Colours of Life” however i lost it...

However the most original one is “şişe çekmek”... You heat little glasses and put to the back and push it back like a vacuum.. I do believe you have the same.

In Turkiye we have a naturalist, spritual healer as it is called "Lokman Hekim-the arabic version of doctor-" which i heard for the first time printed on a classic yearly wall-calendar. I should go further on it..

Finally, as I shared you thru e-mails I “moved”. Moved from job to school and a free lance job, moved from my own flat to mother’s.... It’s not a move literally but a move for me in: April you know i am going to “fly” to States for 4-6 weeks...

This chest / box ( Pandora’s chest ) is a farewell present from my beloved ex-colleagues... It is almost specially designed for Arakhnes: they put in it; 3 yumak and a şiş; a beautiful set of a knitted bonnet and atkı; Candan Erçetin’s CD which you will get a copy asap, the books i gave them to read...

Although the original Pandora’s box is full of “negatives” I continue to perceive it something has a lot of surprises... So, this lovely lily-flowered chest is for me a symbol of past ( the books), today ( the CD, and hat and atkı) and the future ( the knitting set as a source of future knitting projects ) and reserves many things in it. I loved it!

March is quite important month for me... My birthday is 12 of it :) I checked your Μάρτης :)My mother remenbered it and she said: "Yes, we were making Mart ipi-March string- but i don't remember what does it for, let's ask your aunt!" My elder aunt as i call her Büyük Teyze explained it as the same you wrote. And my other aunt, she remembered to and decided to make a one our families the newest member, her grand-child a 11-months girl!

I want to prepare a special posting for March as soon as i found some time...

Other issues "coming soon" our recipes from Cpyrus visit :), the flowers... Aşure... if i also could add to the previous ones as i have already written :(


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Kourambiedes, a recipe from an Alexandrian lady

Returing to cooking after Kavafis' poem, the first recipe I thought appropriate is the one I am using for kourambiedes. It belonged to a lady from Alexandria I met in America many years ago and was given to me by her daughter.

I used this recipe many many times over the years, mainly for giving the sweets as a gift. It never failed me!

(recipe of Mrs. Athineou)


250 gr. pure butter, softened (leave it out of the refrigerator till it is soft)
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 egg
2-3 tablespoons of cognac (it can be replaced by vanilla powder)
150-200 gr. roasted almonds
flour (about 800 gr. , as much as the dough will take, i.e. "judge by the eye" as we say)
powdered sugar for dusting


In a bowl mix the butter with the sugar and beat well till the mixture becomes fluffy (you can use the mixer, I do it with a rubber spatula). Add the egg and beat well. Add the cognac or vanilla and mix. Add the almonds.

Add flour and start working it in, till the dough is soft and can be shaped.

Shape in half moons. Place on a lightly greased oven tray and bake atabout 160 degrees C till they are golden.

Brush with water and sprinkle with a lot of powdered sugar.

Καλή Επιτυχία!
(meaning Good Luck; my mother always writes this phrase at the end of the recipes she copied in her recipe book and the ones she sents to me over the years. )

I should note that I make these kourambiedes to some friends in Italy every time I go to see them for the last 15 years. They love them! Sometimes the sweets turn out to be a little overbaked, sometimes they have less almonds, often I don't use the exact recipe measures, but every time these friends find them better than the previous time and ask me what is the secret! It is a great satisfaction for me to hear their comments: "they absorb just enough when they are immersed in espresso", "the butter flavour is more pronunced than last time", the almonds are more cooked", ... Every time they find something original to say!

Dedicated to Çiğdem for Her New Ventures

Dedicating Kavafis' poem ΙΘΑΚΗ (Ithaka) to Çiğdem
for her new endeavours!
May the journey be as rewarding as the destination!

While I was looking for a good English translation for this poem - one of the most known, most cited and most loved in Greece - I found a picture of the manuscript!!!!


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Two sites of interest for Καβάφη, the Alexandrian poet, are:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Poem by Seferis in Four Languages

I recently re-read Seferis' poetry and thought of copying one of his poems here.

Although this poem is part of one of his most famous collection of poems - ΜΥΘΙΣΤΟΡΗΜΑ (Mithisto'rema, Mythical Narration), written in 1935- I had not noticed it till the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympiad, which I thought was a magical work of art. The poem was read just before this moment:

The French translation is by Jacques Lacarrière (a writer himself and a friend of Seferis) and Egéri Makrakis. I don't know the English and Italian translators.


Ξύπνησα με το μαρμάρινο τούτο κεφάλι στα χέρια
που μού εξαντλεί τους αγκώνες και δεν ξέρω πού να τ’ ακουμπήσω.
Έπεφτε στο όνειρο καθώς έβγαινα από το όνειρο
έτσι ενώθηκε η ζωή μας και θα είναι πολύ δύσκολο να ξαναχωρίσει.

Κοιτάζω τα μάτια· μήτε ανοιχτά μήτε κλειστά
μιλώ στο στόμα που όλο γυρεύει να μιλήσει
κρατώ τα μάγουλα που ξεπέρασαν το δέρμα.
Δεν έχω άλλη δύναμη·
τα χέρια μου χάνουνται και με πλησιάζουν


Mi sono svegliato con questa testa di marmo tra le mani
che mi stanca i gomiti e non so dove posarla.
Cadeva nel sogno mentre uscivo dal sogno
così le nostre vite si sono confuse
e sarà difficile assai separarle ancora.

Guardo gli occhi; né aperti né chiusi
parlo alla bocca che sta sempre sul punto di parlare
reggo gli zigomi che hanno trapassato la pelle.
La forza m'abbandona;
le mie mani si smarriscono e tornano mutile a me.


I awoke with this marble head in my hands
which exhausts my elbows and I do not know where to set it down.
It was falling into the dream as I was coming out of the dream
so our lives joined and it will be very difficult to part them.

I look at the eyes: neither open nor closed
I speak to the mouth which keeps trying to speak
I hold the cheeks which have passed beyond the skin.
I have no more strength.
My hands disappear and come back to me


Je me suis réveillé, entre les mains cette tête de marbre
Qui épuise mes coudes et où donc la poserai-je?
Elle tombait dans le rêve comme je sortais du rêve :
Ainsi se sont jointes nos vies et il serait très dur de les dissocier.

Je regarde les yeux : ni ouverts ni fermés.
Je parle à la bouche qui sans cesse essaie de parler,
Je soulève les pommettes qui ont percé la peau.
Je n’en peux plus.

Mes mains se perdent et me reviennent,

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Μάρτης (March string bracelet)

We have a custom, which we were following as children but it tends to be forgotten nowadays.

On the 1st of March the children are given a string bracelet - we call Μάρτη (i.e. March), made of two colours of strings: red and white. The two strings are twisted many times tightly and then tied around the wrist of the child. The child wears the Μάρτη during the whole month of March. The bracelet is supposed to protect from the sun who becomes stronger, as srping approaches. At the end of March the bracelet is cut off and the child should throw it on a roof, so that the swallows take it and use it to build their nest.

My maternal grand mother (Anneannemin) was making the Μάρτη for us.

I remembered this custom today, as a lady came into the shop and bought cotton perlé to make the Μάρτη. She bought red and white but also a turquoise cotton perlé, to blend with the red and white... It was the first time I heard of the turquoise in the Μάρτη. I assume it will be for the bad eye.

Do you have something similar?

Pictures of our home towns

A very beautiful picture of the mosque at Ortaköy - my close friend of many years Maria, who liked very much our ΑΡΑΧΝΕΣ, found it in the ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ newspaper and sent it to me ...

... and part of the view from our house in Kavala... I have taken this picture many times, since every time I have the impression that it is more beatiful than before...