Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ovidian Snack Time

In the stories of Apollo and Daphne (Met. 1) and Cycnus (Met. 12), Ovid's system of poetics is quite clear. Ovid's version of nature is fluid, human (or human-like) forms melt into other natural forms, limbs stiffening into branches or flapping into wings, becoming adorned with leaves or feathers and resulting in very convincing (to me, anyway) etiologies. Apollo chases Daphne into spicing up the Delphic oracle and crowns of the triumphal commanders. She morphs just in time to avoid rape and Apollo becomes the first-ever tree-hugger ("If you cannot be my wife, you will be my tree!").

In Met. 12, Achilles is trying to kill the impenetrable Cycnus. Since a sword or spear won't do, he is forced to smother and crush him. Poor Cycnus. And naturally, he gets changed into a swan and thus we have the etiology of the swan.

A few weeks ago (when I was still a New York resident!), Amy helped me make the savory cheesecake from The Classical Cookbook that is based upon Cato's recipe (On Agriculture 75). The recipe is very simple and only calls for feta, all-purpose flour, an egg and some leaves of Daphne ... bay leaves!

Tossing all the ingredients except the Daphne into the food processor made a super quick and slightly sticky dough, which we shaped into an ancient-looking loaf. Following Dalby and
Grainger's recipe, we placed the bay leaves under the loaf and these imparted a lovely, spicy aroma to the resulting cake.

It was good. Salty, but not overwhelmingly so, and relatively light in texture -- kind of like an Olive Garden breadstick but really cheesy.

Since it was a Sunday and Sundays call for Bloody Marys, we made Bloody Marys with the box of Kyknos brand tomato juice I bought at Titan. They complimented the salty cheesecake
nicely. The all-knowing wikipedia states that "Kyknos S.A. is a Greek tomato company and it is one of the major tomato paste brands in the country." Wikipedia also helpfully informs us that the color of the tomato paste is red.

Dalby, A. and Grainger, S. The Classical Cookbook. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996

Monday, May 4, 2009

I found Actaeon in my fridge.

"Diana gives to the sprinkled head the horns of the lively stag, she gives length to the neck and sharpens the tips of his ears, she gives feet instead of hands, changes his arms to long legs and covers his body with a spotted hide; fear is added: Autonoe's heroic son flees and marvels at the swiftness in his course" (Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.194-9).

I'm not exactly sure what else to say except that when I opened the freezer this morning, there was Actaeon. He was dismembered, frozen and packed into at least twenty neat little plastic baggies and labeled "Wild Game." 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ode to Astoria, continued.

Just a little bit more on Astoria to prove that I did indeed live amongst the Olympians. And I already miss it. However, given that I have moved to Middle of Nowhere, PA, with its strange laws on alcohol consumption (goodbye six-packs from the corner store), I had to buy a whole case of Dogfish's Midas Touch today (PA is no place for the beer commitment-phobe) and it set me back 71 bucks!

Ode to Astoria

I have lived in Astoria, home to the largest Greek population outside of Greece, for the past three and a half years. This means that I shopped at Titan Foods, ate at the Neptune Diner regularly, got my eyes checked at Odyssey Optical and Zeus took out my trash.

At the Aphrodite Restaurant (part of the Acropolis Apartment complex), I could get tzaziki to dunk my chicken nuggets into (it's a really good combination) while my boyfriend made dirty jokes about sea foam and smiles.

I have cooked with Minerva olive oil these past few years (yes, it was extra virgin), did my Homer homework on a stoop a block away from Hermes International Movers, ate cereal as I translated the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and essentially, lived amongst the Olympians.

And just as my odyssey in eating old food has recently acquired an Odyssean tone, I am accompanying my boyfriend on his own nostos. We are moving to the country, to his hometown. I suppose you could say that I'm going bucolic.

But first, a toast, with the Ithaca Beer Company's Apricot Wheat Ale, which somehow escaped Ancient Beer Drinking Night. Admittedly, it is from the Ithaca that is Gorges but I still think it suits us nicely today. Cheers.