"A Touch of Spice" is a story about a young Greek boy (Fanis) growing up in Istanbul, whose grandfather, a culinary philosopher and mentor,teaches him that both food and life require a ...
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In modern Greece, while socioeconomic turmoil ravages Southern Europe, three distinct stories unfold, each representing a different generation of Greeks in love with a foreigner, each story coming together in the end to form a whole.
"A Touch of Spice" is a story about a young Greek boy (Fanis) growing up in Istanbul, whose grandfather, a culinary philosopher and mentor,teaches him that both food and life require a little salt to give them flavor; they both require... A Touch of Spice. Fanis grows up to become an excellent cook and uses his cooking skills to spice up the lives of those around him. 35 years later he leaves Athens and travels back to his birthplace of Istanbul to reunite with his grandfather and his first love; he travels back only to realize that he forgot to put a little bit of spice in his own life.Written by
I love Greek cuisine, I love it enormously and I remember the great brunches I used to have at a Greek restaurant in Clarendon, one of the towns from Arlington County. The tables were full of all kind of good stuff, dolmades, eggplant salad (baba ghanoush, if you know the term, though the Greek name is different) and backed eggplant, stuffed peppers, taramosalata and tzatziki, fasolatha and gigandes plaki, souvlaki and keftedakia, and moussaka, cheese of all ways and salami, black and green olives, fish prepared in many ways, and many, many other dishes. That restaurant is no more, but there are other nice Greek restaurants in the DC area.
All this stuff is also in the Turkish cuisine, both are very similar (and they have a strong resemblance with the cuisine of all other Balkan countries, Romania included, and also with all countries in Mid Orient).
Which is the best of them? There is only one answer: you'll find it in Istanbul. It's Politiki Kouzina, the term has double meaning. Politiki Kouzina is the Cuisine of the Polis, because the Great City of Constantine, Constantinopolis, is unique: it is THE City, THE Polis. Politiki Kouzina means also political cuisine, as the relations between Greeks and Turks have always been so complicated that everything there has a strong political dimension.
I watched yesterday a Greek movie from 2003, Politiki Kouzina (the English title is A Touch of Spice): a movie about politics and about cuisine. Greeks who used to live in Istanbul and have been forced to leave for Greece, due to the complicated political contentious between the two countries. They moved to Greece and remained nostalgic for their lost Polis, and a way to keep their distinct identity was Politiki Kouzina: the dishes they went on preparing exactly like in Istanbul. The same spices, in the same proportions, giving the same flavors. Their touch of spice, their Constantinopolitan touch.
A movie calling in mind Cinema Paradiso, full of nostalgia. I have read the reviews to this movie. Most of them were enthusiastic. I'm sorry to say I did not appreciate very much the realization. When you tell its story it sounds great, while the movie itself seemed to me artistically flawed. Maybe too one-sided politically (though very decent), maybe somehow irresolute, like not knowing what turn to take in the unfolding of the plot, maybe some solutions in the plot suffer from lack of consistency.
I am sorry to say that because I am fascinated by Istanbul: I haven't had the occasion to go there so far, it's one of my dearest dreams. And where A Touch of Spice definitely succeeds is in communicating a superb love for the Great City, for the Polis. if I were to choose one scene from the movie, this will be the one in which the father is suddenly telling his love for "the most beautiful city in the world." It's one of those scenes that will remain in my memory for ever! This movie, for all its flaws, deserve to be watched for this scene. Three personages are gathered at the table (where else?) in their apartment in Athens. They have been forced to leave Istanbul many years ago, their souls still belong there.
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