Greek Food Art From Thessaloniki
Series introduction drawing features a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread, which is the most fundamental food ever invented, Tucked in a niche in an ancient ruin wall just waiting for the next traveler to come along and enjoy. Thessaloniki is surrounded by this wall because it used to be well guarded, protecting the lifestyle, culture and homes of its people.
Taking a Break from Sightseeing
Combination of: my apartment kitchen, a spectacular view of Thessaloniki from the top of the Eptapyrgio hill, a fabulous Greek meal, the guidebook I poured over to find fun places to explore (to eat), and the map which was a life saver when my cell phone died and I couldn’t use my navigation app.
Ode to Oleology
The olive orchard from my son’s school set together with antique olive harvesting and pressing tools. Of course the edible olives, but also the olive wood of the bowl and toothpicks count too. (Personal note: I actually hate olives. I intended to use this trip to train myself to acquire the taste. I would force myself to eat a few olives at every place they were offered. But it didn’t work. I still hate olives.)
This bread is ubiquitous, as are the pigeons, who seemed to want my bread ring as much as I did. The koulouri carts are everywhere. My son called this the poor people snack because a ring was about the equivalent of a quarter. Set in Aristotelous Square, on the edge of the water. If the pigeons push much further, the bread will end up in the sea.
Ana Poli Alley
The oldest part of the city, cobbled surfaces, narrow alley-like streets, and amazing restaurants. Cats are almost as abundant as pigeons.
Thessaloniki herb vendor blended with an ancient measuring stone and a setting nestled among the ruins of Dion where people surely must have gone to market 2,000 years ago.
Orange branch surrounded by a mosaic-like border of orange blossoms. Sweet and simple, just like the oranges.
From the American Farm School dairy farm. These cows looked so content and were curious to meet me.
The Standoff: Peacock v. Herb Garden
Compilation of images I took at the Vlatadon Monastery. They have a peacock aviary, a robust herb garden, ancient walls and prime vistas. I imagined a scene where the peacock, even with all his fine feathers, couldn’t compete with the garden in full bloom.
Thessaloniki is covered in a layer of graffiti. It's also full of little tables and makeshift cafes. Putting disparate items together is also what great chefs do creating wonderful recipes. This scene is in honor of food as an art form.
A triumphal monument to honor women’s role in food production over the millennia. Caryatids symbolize women as main supports along with their tools of the trade lekythos, chytrai, oinochoe, stamnos, krater, amphora.
There is a long tradition of monks running vineyards and making wine. The old wine bottles overlook the Church of the Panagia Chalkeon. A cat overlooks the wine.
Thessaloniki Street Food
Food literally fills the streets. With a cafe on every corner, the coffee cup is largest, the handle is both of the cup and extends from the map. The word on the coffee cup is Hellas (Greece) and uses the colors of the Greek flag.
Greek Food Art From Thessaloniki
My son went on a study abroad semester to the American Farm School in the outskirts of Thessaloniki, Greece. His focus in college is Culinary Food Science and his classes in Greece included oleology and viticulture. (Or the study of olives and grapes!) I went to visit him in the end of March - April for ten days. My stay was based in a tiny apartment I rented off the plaza at the end of Aristotelous Square near the Venizelos Statue. I could see that statue from my little balcony. This turned out to be a very convenient location in the heart of the city with everything in walking distance, or a short bus ride away. Even the day-tour buses I took gathered there so on my excursion mornings I just had to stumble out of bed and cross the park to get on the bus.
1. Me and Thessaloniki
2. First balcony was mine
3. Venizelos Statue
4. Son at school
5. Alexander the Great
Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece (population 815,000) and is like a little sister to Athens (population over three million). It’s also less touristy and a lot cheaper to visit than Athens. This place is old. Really old. It was founded in 315 BCE by King Cassander and became the Macedonian capital. It was named after the king’s wife, who was also the sister of Alexander the Great. This was a very wealthy city in the Byzantine Empire.
Thessaloniki embraces its past and takes the preservation of it’s ruins seriously. Construction rehabilitation zones abound. It is common to have a ruin with a plaza tucked in between high rises and shopping centers. Every which way you walk, another ruin or old church is part of the landscape. In fact, Thessaloniki can not build an underground metro system because there are too many ruins that would interfere with the train routes.
My son and I visited a dozen different ancient places during our time together. Thessaloniki has a number of UNESCO World Heritage Site designations to its name. We would pay homage to a really old site and then go find the cafe that inevitably was located around the corner and discover something new to sample there. We wandered the streets eating. With over 300 restaurants, cafes and bars in the city, there was really no end to the eating we could accomplish. Clearly we are not the first to discover the fine eats in this city. UNESCO also knows what treats come out of this place. They named Thessaloniki the first Greek city to become a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
When I travel I take tons of photos. I capture the typical monuments and iconic scenes, but mostly I focus on the details. Textures, shadows, alleys, signs, whatever catches my eye. I am looking for a personality in the places I visit. The intent is to take my collection of photos back to my studio and come up with a distinctive cohesion that reflects my experiences there. In sifting through my Thessaloniki files, I came to appreciate a certain aspect of the city and it was obvious to me what the primary claim to fame would be.
Between 1. my son’s food studies, 2. our sampling of endless exotic flavors, 3. the culinary achievement of Thessaloniki being a Gastronomic Cultural Center — well obviously my series had to be about food.
Represented here are 12 different aspects of food —growing food, consuming food, or the significance of food. Each drawing is done with pen and colored pencils on 9x12 drawing paper.