Showing posts with label journalist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label journalist. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Balakian Book: Baking Choereg & Fate

In a nod to Armenian Christmas on Sunday, the fates left on my office desk today a book apparently delivered in August - !!! - that was lost in the bowels of our mail room.
It was Peter Balakian's historical memoir that I ordered long ago: "Black Dog of Fate." It starts with a timely description of making a bread called "choereg."
I am amazed that my mom, when I said the word choereg, which I don't recognize and can't quite pronounce, conjured up some Greek: "Of course. Tsourek-i. Our recipe for holiday sweet bread."
Balakian writes of spending an afternoon with his Armenian grandmother, who was born near Turkey but lived in New Jersey. They prepared bread, which helped her tell deeply buried, moving stories:
"To make choereg, we mixed milk and melted butter into a ceramic bowl. I poured [yeast] into a glass measuring cup and watched it fizz. Eggs, sugar, salt, rising agent, and my grandmother poured in the mahleb."
Mahleb, or mahlepi, is a spice that looks like a small nut, but is the essence of a cherry pit, his grandmother explained. Then she quoted the Song of Solomon on spices and praised the merits of memorizing the Bible and prose.
"She sifted flour and we mixed it all with a large wooden spoon until it was dough. Then she scooped the dough out and put it on the flour-glazed bread board. We squeezed and pressed it with our hands. I liked how the wet dough stuck between my fingers. I liked how she took it to another bowl and turned it all over its oiled surface, then covered the bowl with a towel and put it in the unlit oven. It was warm there and free from drafts, and when we opened the oven two hours later, the dough was an airy saffron-colored mound. I loved punching the dough down so that it's porous insides collapsed. We pulled it into pieces and made ropes, braids, and rings."
You can see ours, a vasilopita, but always with mahlepi and sesame.
Perhaps it was again fate, but tonight I also received the latest Columbia Journalism Review offering this feature: "Where Truth Is a Hard Cell: Although Seen as Modern & West Leaning, Turkey leads the World in Jailing Journalists," by Stephen Franklin, a former Chicago Tribune Middle East correspondent.
"The most dangerous problem is self censorship," according to one veteran Turkish editor who's quoted. "You don't even ask questions. And that kills journalism."
A recipe for disaster, not bread, in that case.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Greek Bagehot

It's good to note that this year's Knight Bagehot Fellows, a group of 10 mid-career journalists selected for a paid year at Columbia Business School that results in a master's in journalism, include an Athens scribe.
Only 10 people get the honor each year, and this year's Bagehots include:
Katerina Sokou, 37, head of international financial news for Kathimerini, the Athens, Greece, daily newspaper, where she has led coverage of the international response to the financial crisis since 2008. She has become a source of information on the Greek crisis for the BBC, The Times, and countless foreign journalists via Twitter. She graduated from University of Warwick in the United Kingdom in 1998, and started as a trainee at the Greek newspaper To Vima, where she spent ten years. She has a history degree from the University of Ioannina, Greece.
With the situation in Greece pretty dire, it's great that a hardworking journalist from there gets the Bagehot. She may be the first Greek citizen Bagehot. I am pretty sure I was among the first persons of Greek descent to complete the fellowship.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Believe in Miracles

Over the weekend was laid to rest Georgia Photopulos, 77, someone we knew growing up at Sts. Peter & Paul in Glenview, IL. Church for Georgia was "a place I would be welcomed, a place where I could leave my problems and find peace of mind." The sum of her life reveals how miraculous it was: 19 cancer operations, 43 years beating it! She had polio as a child, and received hormone fertility treatments in the early 1960s, but she didn't define these as causes but preparation, according to her book, "Of Tears and Triumphs." Among her accomplishments: finding a steadfast husband Bud (He's a journalist, and she took heart in his baptismal name, Socrates. They wrote the book together about surviving cancer.) She also invented a wig, started a help line and even worked for the FBI as a Greek translator. And her childhood Greek school teacher? None other than my grandfather Constantine. She'd remind me of his Humboldt Park lessons, at church coffee hour.
The Chicago Tribune obit lays out Georgia's life and family.
Εternal Memory!