Tag Archives: olive

The Olympics: Invented by the Greeks

5 Aug

Ancient Olympics Nikolopoulos

We Greeks like to claim we invented just about everything.

The most famous? We invented democracy.

If you’ve watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding — 1 or 2 — you know that Greeks invented any word you can think of. This is not an exaggeration. I grew up hearing my father explain to me the Greek root to English words all … the … time.

We even invented cheesecake.

And, we invented the Olympics.

You’re welcome, by the way.

Today is opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s always an exciting event, with a lot of intense political and social history.

I had the amazing experience of attending the Summer Olympics when they were in Athens, Greece! You can see a few photos from that trip here.

I’ve also been several time to the site of the Ancient Olympics. The first Olympics were held in Olympia, Greece. This happens to be on the Peloponnese peninsula where my father grew up, so I grew up visiting there and then as an adult brought my own friends there. You can see my Ancient Greek Olympics photographs from over the years here.

The Greeks invented the Olympics in the 8th century BC to celebrate the mythological Greek god Zeus. Consequently, they were not just about athletics but were highly religious: there were two temples and an altar built. During Antiquity, the games were held every four years. The Olympic games were opened up to all citizens of the Roman Empire during the Roman rule. The games were held until Theodosius I, a Christian emperor of the Roman Empire, banned the pagan rituals of the Olympic games in the 4th century AD. After him, Theodosius II had the temple to Zeus destroyed. For details on the Ancient Greek Olympics, read up here.

For the official modern-day Olympics, visit the Olympics website.

 

Sometimes it’s fun to think of what Olympic games I’d invent if I were in charge of the games today. Here are my picks:

 

  • Olive wreath crown-making
  • Subway turnstile hurdling
  • Best personal essay about gym class
  • Speed typing
  • Freestyle walking

Go, team, go!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Tasty Tuesday: A French Road-Trip Supper

9 Apr

Jack Kerouac’s parents were French Canadian, and he described some fantastic meals in The Town and the City.  While he was on road trips though, he barely had enough money to buy food sometimes.

Saveur magazine created a springtime menu for if you happen to find yourself roadtripping through France … or just dreaming of being there!

The menu includes:

  • olive spread with figs
  • crepes
  • the French Blonde cocktail
  • and more!

Get the dinner party recipe here.

What’s your dream menu for a road trip along France’s famous Route 7?

Jazz for Peace

10 Dec

When my dear friend Sue, whom I’ve known since first grade, invited me to a jazz show fundraiser I immediately said yes. As I’ve been studying Jack Kerouac, I’ve been reading a lot about how he frequented the jazz clubs of Harlem and wrote jazz reviews. I’m kind of a method writer, and I like to get out and experience what I’m writing about. And of course it’s great to be able to help others just by doing something you love — listening to music and eating great food. And when I say great food, I mean they had fried olives stuffed with blue cheese! Afterwards, I asked Sue if she’d be interested in doing a little write up, and she not only agreed but was so enthusiastic about it.  Below she shares about this worthwhile fundraiser, the great music, and the cute moment we shared with people at our table:

Jack, Josie and I hurriedly rushed into the restaurant.  We finally arrived at Lura Restaurant Lounge at 949 Columbus Avenue (Duke Ellington Blvd and 106th Street), way uptown.  We were running late for the Jazz for Peace Event, the Global Alliance for Community Development’s (GACD) 2nd Anniversary Fundraiser.  Jack serves on GACD’s Board of Directors, and the three of us work for the same company in midtown, where we were rushing in from.  I was to meet my friends, Mike and Stephanie, at Lura by 7pm.  I walked in and looked around.  To my left, Steph sat alone at a table, dressed in black, buried deep in a book.  Mike was off to my right at the bar, looking directly at me and smiling. 

Josie and I gathered Mike and joined Steph at the table.  I know them; they know of each other.  The usual chatter ensued, and drinks and food were ordered.  Lura has an exceptional menu, and we had a hard time deciding what to get.  Everything looked (and was) scrumptious.  As we settled in, David McCoy, Executive Director of GACD, stood up in front of the room and talked about the work they are doing and aspire to do and the results of their labor up to that point.  One of the most inspiring initiatives that he described was the water programs GACD has designed in collecting and filtering rainwater for communities. It made one feel so proud to be a part of this great cause in some way and was an appropriate reminder of what was going on outside of the room.  He turned our attention over to Rick DellaRatta and Jazz for Peace* and, appropriately for a late October evening, they opened up with “Autumn Leaves.”

I noticed that Josie was talking to an elderly couple at the next table.  The man was keeping half-time with his hand on the table and on his knee, joking that the music was too fast for old people to dance to.  Josie, who was sitting closest to the woman, was deep in conversation, probably partly due to the fact that one could hardly hear anyone unless he or she was right next to you.  After a few moments, Josie revealed to us that this couple happened to be, in fact, the parents of the keyboardist and vocalist, Rick DellaRatta.  The man, DellaRatta’s father, had been a musician in the War, and his wife, DellaRatta’s mother, was a pianist who had played with him.  They’d been married for over 50 years.  DellaRatta’s father displayed so much insight into the music being played, the technicalities of it, how each instrument contributed to the overall sound.  The bassist plucked away, with all ten fingers at one point.  The drummer, who looked like a teenager, blew everybody away with the seeming madness of his drumming.  He paused and syncopated with so much force, yet absolute grace and control.  The saxophonist, who stood in front, slightly to the right of the stage, whenever I looked over at him, would just be standing there, still, looking out at the audience.  Every so often, you’d hear him first, the singing, soaring sounds of the sax, running up and down the octaves where his fingers, all of a sudden, were a blur, a complete contrast to his previous state of inertia.  The energy emanating from the stage forced one to stop what one was doing, or even thinking about, and to just feel the music, to let the symphony flow through you and move you.

The next day at work, Jack and I agreed that the night was too short.  Josie and I were anxious to see the pictures Mike had taken of us inside and outside the venue. 

4

Please see links for more information on GACD and how you can help support them and their more-than-worthy cause to combat poverty.  Hope to see you at GACD’s 3rd Anniversary Fundraiser!

Sue J. Chang lives in Manhattan, NY in Battery Park City and publishes mixes on 8tracks.com.

* Via: On September 25, 2002 Jazz pianist and vocalist Rick DellaRatta was invited to lead a band consisting of Israeli, Middle Eastern, European, Asian and American Jazz Musicians in a concert inside the United Nations for an International audience in what is now considered one of the significant cultural events of our time. Rick named this band JAZZ FOR PEACE™ and has since performed over 800 Benefit Concerts to raise funds, publicity and awareness for outstanding organizations in need worldwide. In addition Jazz for Peace performs educational programs bringing music and Jazz back into the schools and donates musical instruments to underprivileged children. Jazz for Peace concerts have featured Rick DellaRatta along with such notable jazz artists as Paquito D’Rivera, Victor Lewis, Lenny White, Eddie Gomez, Dave Valentin, Ray Mantilla, Rick Margitza and many others. Mr. DellaRatta’s Jazz influenced orchestral composition “Permutata” was recently recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra.  For more information please visit http://www.jazzforpeace.org

 

Greek Cookbooks at BEA 2011

2 Jun

Zigzagging my way through the Javitz Center last week at BEA, I discovered two beautifully packaged Greek cookbooks I want to share with you.

 

I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything Chronicle publishes, and their upcoming book Kokkari is no exception.  Written by executive chef Erik Cosselman and food writer Janet Fletcher, the cookbook gives insight into life at the Greek restaurant Kokkari in San Francisco.  Look for it this coming September.

Marketing copy not yet available, but the book will be 224 pages of text and color photography.  Just look at that cover design!  Rather than focusing only on traditional Greek fare, the cookbook will discuss contemporary Greek cooking through the lens of what is servied at the popular California restaurant.

 

Arsenal Pulp Press showed off last year’s publication From the Olive Grove—and with good reason: Helen Koutalianos’ and Anastasia Koutalianos‘ book pairs the history and health benefits of olive oil with classic Mediterranean recipes.

Marketing copy reads as follows:

The healthful virtues of olive oil, a key component of the Mediterranean diet, have become well-known in recent years; its monounsaturated fats and antioxidants are beneficial in preventing heart disease by controlling LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while simultaneously raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

Helen Koutalianos has preached the gospel of olive oil and its benefits for years; at the same time, consumers across North America have become more sophisticated and appreciative of flavorful, boutique olive oils that are not mass produced. In this charming, intimate cookbook, Helen and her daughter Anastasia have collected 150 delectable, Mediterranean-inspired recipes (Greek and beyond), many of which have been passed along from Helen’s mother and grandmother, in which olive oil is a central ingredient; these include Olive Oil Poached Lamb, Quail with Olives, Turkish Kebab with Garlic, Shrimp and Feta Casserole, Octopus in Wine Sauce, Seared Scallop and Prawn Gazpacho, Artichokes with Lemon, and Kolokethakia Yemista (Stuffed Zucchinis with Lemon Egg Sauce).

The book also takes readers through the artisan olive oil-making process, from cultivating and processing the fruit to the production of the oil itself. Complemented with full-color photographs of recipes, From the Olive Grove will seduce and inspire readers to create their own delicious, heart-healthy meals at home.

 

Perhaps in the downturn of the Greek economy, more Greeks have been immigrating to the United States, because I’ve noticed at least two new Greek restaurants pop up in Manhattan in the past six months.  In the past few years, Peruvian and Korean food seems to have assimilated into the culinary world, and while Greek food has been around for a while, I wonder if we might be headed into a bit of a Greek food renaissance—with a focus on new, contemporary explorations of Greek cooking.