Sunday, November 16, 2008

A poem

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Gyros or doner? Common foods

If You think that Greek and Turkish cuisine are completely different from each other, you're wrong. Throughout the Ottoman occupation of Greece, the people found an easy way to communicate with one another - through recipes.

However, nowadays, if you are sitting with friends in a taverna in the square of Platani village, located on the Dodecanese island of Kos, waiting for your doner kebab, questions such as what is Turkish and what is Greek are not foremost on your mind. Yet, there are extremely obvious reminders everywhere because Platani has the second largest Muslim community in Greece living peacefully alongside Orthodox Christians - and the cuisine, which is firmly in Muslim hands, sometimes looks pleasantly familiar.
Whether the kebabs turning on the spit are yiros or doner depends largely on the meat. Though both words mean "something that turns in a circle", clearly focusing on one aspect of their preparation, religion governs the main ingredient. Whereas Orthodox Christians with a clear conscience prefer pork, the Muslim inhabitants follow Allah's prohibition and opt for lamb or mutton instead.

It would not be a bad thing if international understanding came about as a result of cooking and borders started to disappear on plates. In Greek and Turkish cuisine, there is a whole range of such culinary blends, their presence being explained to a great extent by the centuries of Ottoman rule over Greece.

Once the religious prescriptions have been taken care of, the marinade for both the yiros and doner kebab meat is the same. The mixture of salt, pepper, oregano, ground cumin and olive oil - which can be enhanced with chilli powder, pepper, rosemary, thyme and onions - gives the marinade its spiciness.

Returning to the questions mentioned at the start of this article, we could perhaps conclude that, as far as broiling meat on a spit is concerned, neither cuisine has influenced the other, this shared aspect probably being as old as the use of fire itself. Broiling is a way of cooking meat not restricted to any particular area that requires no heavy, heat-resistant vessels and that was, therefore, used by hunters and soldiers in situations where every unnecessary expense had to be avoided.

But if nowadays yiros and doner kebabs are undisputedly, albeit unjustifiably, considered to be the embodiment of Greek or Turkish food in Western Europe, the reason behind it may to some extent lie in the provisions the first foreign workers brought with them for their journey.


No infant euthanasia reported in Netherlands

No cases of infant euthanasia were reported in the Netherlands in the first year after laws on mercy killings were expanded to cover newborns, Dutch officials said last Friday.

The Netherlands legalised euthanasia for adults in 2001 in cases where the patients are suffering unbearable pain due to illness with no hope of recovery, and ask to die. Several doctors must agree before a lethal cocktail of sedatives and painkillers is administered.
In 2006, that policy was expanded to include newborns with extreme birth defects, who can be killed at the request of their parents.
The commission set up to vet whether guidelines are followed in such cases said doctors did not report any incidences in 2007, the commission's first year of operation.

Studies in the 1990s found that 15-20 such babies were probably euthanized illegally each year in the Netherlands, a country of 16 + million people. Doctors were hardly ever prosecuted because authorities were reluctant to press charges in a country where euthanasia has been widely accepted as ethical.

The panel of medical and ethical experts wrote in a report sent to Parliament that one explanation for the absence of reported infant euthanasia cases may be that foetuses with dire defects are being detected via ultrasound examinations and aborted before the 24th week of pregnancy.

The commission said members plan to visit all neonatal intensive care units in the country this year to encourage more reporting of euthanasia.

Day opening - November 16

Dream of Autumn. Picture made by Michal Zaleski.