A Touch of Spice
|A Touch of Spice|
|Directed by||Tassos Boulmetis|
|Music by||Evanthia Reboutsika|
|Editing by||Yorgos Mavropsaridis|
|Distributed by||Capitol Films
|Running time||108 minutes|
A Touch of Spice (or Politiki kouzina) is a 2003 Greek film directed by Tassos Boulmetis and starring Georges Corraface as the character of the adult Fanis Iakovides. The character of Fanis Iakovides as a child is played by Markos Osse and the supporting role of Fanis's grandfather, Vassilis, is played by Tassos Bandis.
The original Greek title is Πολίτικη Κουζίνα (Politiki Kouzina) which means Cuisine of the City and refers to the Cuisine of Constantinople. However, in the film's promotional material , the word Politiki of the title is depicted in capital letters, therefore allowing an alternative reading of the title, as Πολιτική Κουζίνα (Politiki Kouzina) which means Political Cuisine signifying the important role that politics played in the lives of the main characters.
Fanis Iakovides, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, recalls his childhood memories from growing up in Istanbul. When Fanis was 7 years old, his grandfather Vassilis was an owner of a general store with a specialty in spices. He was also a culinary philosopher and his mentor. Fanis grew very attached to his grandfather who would assist with his homework using imaginative techniques. For instance, Vassilis would teach his grandson the planets of the Solar System by showing an illustration of it and replacing the planets with spices. Cinnamon took the place of Venus since according to Vassilis, "like all women, cinnamon is both bitter and sweet". Fanis also fell in love for the first time in his grandfather store's upper floor with a young Turkish girl, Saime.
However, beginning with the Istanbul Pogrom in 1955, through 1978, the ethnic Greek community of Istanbul was reduced from 135,000 to 7,000 by a series of government orchestrated riots, pogroms and deportations. Most of Fanis' family is deported in 1964 with the Ankara government decision to renege on the 1930 Greco-Turkish Ankara Convention, affirming the right of Greek etablis (Greeks who were born and lived in Istanbul but held Greek citizenship) to live and work in Turkey, and most Greek citizens who lived in Istanbul were deported to Greece, despite most never having previously resided there. Since Vassilis was not a dual citizen, he was able to stay behind while his grandson Fanis and his parents were deported to Athens.
Fanis had trouble initially adapting in Greece, constantly trying to spend his time in the kitchen cooking, as it was the only link between him and his homeland. However, this would upset his mother who was afraid that the boy was either severely depressed or a homosexual. Fanis grew from childhood to adulthood, preserving his culinary talents and often offering his secrets of the Politiki Cuisine to those that ask for his help.
As the years passed by, and the tension between Turkey and Greece resolved, grandfather Vassilis made several promises to visit his grandson in Athens but failed to keep them. The reason for the final incompletion of this engagement was his rapidly declining health. Consequently, Fanis returns to Istanbul after three decades to visit his near-death grandfather and also runs into his old love, Saime, who is now married. Together, they reflect on their lives and the way politics managed to change everything.
Fanis will eventually realize that contrary to what his grandfather had taught him, he forgot to put a little bit of spice in his own life.
The main characters easily fit into a parallel metaphor - Saime, the old love of Fanis, a beautiful Turkish girl and multi-lingual tour guide, represents Istanbul (a cosmopolitan city called a "she" in Greek), Fanis is modern Greece, one that is still deeply in love with Istanbul and nostalgic for the past, while Saime's husband is a Turkish military doctor who represents a modern, pragmatic Turkey.
- Kilic, Ecevit (2008-09-07). "Sermaye nasıl el değiştirdi?". Sabah (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-12-25. "6-7 Eylül olaylarından önce İstanbul'da 135 bin Rum yaşıyordu. Sonrasında bu sayı 70 bine düştü. 1978'e gelindiğinde bu rakam 7 bindi."
- The European Union and Border Conflicts: The EU and Cultural Change in Greek-Turkish Relations