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  • PAPERSKY #17 GREECEPHOTOGRAPHY: JIRO FUJITA

Crazy and charming Greece A to Z

, 2006/04/25

Tell me, what do you know about Greece? This was the question I kept on asking anybody and everybody prior to my journey. The answer was always the same; there would be silence. Occasionally somebody would mention cats, or ruins, or Haruki Murakami, but for the most part just silence, followed by “I want to go!”

So for this issue PAPERSKY’s mission became to define Greece, to give it an image beyond the blue sea and white buildings that surround it’s landscape. In the following pages you will find many things that are very Greek, but in this short note I would like to share with you some of my personal very ordinary Greek observations.

Light: the intensity of the light definitely sets Greece apart. Daylight in Greece is like walking around in a strobe light. If you can imagine the light as a volume knob on a stereo, it would be turned up to maximum- blaring. The incredible thing about this light is it turns everything into a state of hyper detail. In most countries people are people and nature is beautiful, but in Greece people become sculptures and nature glitters and dances. The light sucks, seeps, sips and simmers all details of all objects making life under a microscope a daily reality.

Water: the Greeks love water. It’s like tea in Japan. Sit down and you’ll have a snack and a glass of water placed before you. Go to the supermarket and there will be countless brands of water for sale. Perhaps this custom of water consumption is due to the dry climate, but the competition is definitely fierce making the quality of bottled water extremely high. My favorite brand was IOAH available in glass bottles. Henry Miller, remembering his first day in Greece wrote this: “The glass of water. . . everywhere I saw the glass of water. It became obsessional. I began to think of water as a new thing, a new vital element of life.”

Greek Coffee: Greek coffee, coffee made with the grains in the cup, is in reality Turkish coffee. And most of the Greek cuisine, much to my delight, is a collection of Middle Eastern food. Greece, like the Middle East, shares a culinary tradition built on lamb as the staple meat and olive oil as the basic fat. Other cornerstones of Middle Eastern cooking are rice, figs, yogurt, coarse whole-meal bread, shish kebab, and the use of spice mixed with rice and herbs and stuffed into vegetables or wrapped in leaves. The Greeks, in the Middle ages, perfected Greek cuisine in Orthodox monasteries. While preparing meals, the cooking monks wore a white version of the tall, brimless, black monk’s cap. Today this style is the traditional headgear of master chefs.

In our effort to define Greece we turned to the alphabet, after all, Greece is the land that invented the alphabet. For almost each letter in the alphabet, we have come up with something that we feel is very Greek. By the time you have finished reading through the issue you will find yourself newly educated. You will also likely find yourself planning your next trip abroad to lovely, perverse, crazy, delightful and beautiful Greece.

PAPERSKY #17: Real GREECE A to Z

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