The painful irony that is the economic and political collapse of the very country that brought democracy to the world is not lost on anyone in Greece. For those who never really knew of Greece's internal workings, the recent world financial crisis brought to the surface all the problems that our political and economic system has to offer. Not that many will ever hear of the corruption grafted directly from the Ottoman period that causes us so much grief, nor the Byzantine Civil Service that often seems incapable of doing much except provide for itself. Hence, the monstrous debt crisis this country is in. What many do not know is that the bail-out packages that Greece received have in their majority gone to pay off compound interest on older loans....from the same institutions now lending us more money. Of all those billions and billions of euros hardly any even reached this country.
It's all a computer generated illusion, a travesty that a population desperate for political and economic change is going to pay for through the nose. Perhaps rightfully, the European partners are looking for ways to guarantee their returns. However who is going to guarantee us, the Greek people, that tomorrow, after the pain and the hardships, that things will change? Our European Union seems to be more feudal than we thought. Having to pay the bill for decades of mismanagement and poor services and suffer the criticism of others when we travel abroad - who is going to ensure that we too will have decent roads, a proper functioning medical system, a safe pension fund system, perhaps even...shock....a politician who goes to prison for breaking the law!!
And just imagine what would have happened if the EU countries had insisted Greece actually change before the money arrived. Slightly unconstitutional but at least that way the population would know that they'd benefit from the pain! As it is, all the easy measures have been taken, measures that have protected the cronyism and channels of corruption. The crippling nepotism that for 30 years has resulted in dysfunctional and ineffective government is too, alive and well. Not surprisingly, hurting are those regular citizens who have never done anything wrong in their life, and a generation of youth have been left to wither on the vine (so to speak) without prospect and hope.
This is largely how we, the Greek people, feel. Right now it all looks pretty grim and hopeless. However, there are two sides to every coin and at least the other side offers a glimpse of the potential this country and its people have to offer.
Since launching Artemis, our flagship olive oil from our own land and trees that we planted with our parents, Chris and I have received unbelievable support and encouragement, not only because it's a fantastic oil (as are so many from our part of the world) but because we were not afraid to scream our intentions in the loudest possible way. Being brought up on a small mountainside farm and experiencing the particular guidance from our parents gave us the foundations for this intent, and the courage to hold on to our convictions. Since then the tentative enquiries from like-minded people here in Greece have steadily built up and we both feel compelled to assist in any way possible, simply because we feel that this is the way we want to change our world, and if you want the world to change, you have to change the world.
With or without our help there are now hundreds of like-minded young people across Greece who have either switched course to follow a sustainable approach to agriculture or have just renewed their existing efforts. At the same time others are leaving the cities and turning their back on a corrupt and obsolete system to find themselves again on their own land. Freedom is in the air and the people of Greece are returning to their roots and traditions in the same way they have for centuries to find and express what makes us a resilient and proud nation.
The result is a dazzling array of small scale agricultural delights made with attention and care, using recipes and techniques handed down from generation to generation. Small shops deliver these products to like-minded customers denying the multi-national supermarkets access to these culinary treasures. At the same time traditional cuisine is undergoing a transformation whereby the old meets, and fuses with, the new.
On December 1st 2009, within this atmosphere of change and experimentation, Twisted Pit was born. There is nothing that Chris and I like to do more than get in the kitchen and cook a meal. Experimentation with flavours and textures using just basic kitchen tools and really good ingredients gives us both great pleasure. Aside from that, there is the happy ritual of meal time where family and friends get together to enjoy the luxury of good, wholesome food. If Artemis is our flagship and our expression of intent, Twisted Pit is most definitely our voice. Using the same foundation of integrity of purpose created with Artemis, we channeled our efforts into creating a fusion of tradition and style anchored to the finest ingredients. Twisted Pit is an expression of freedom where there are no boundaries or set rules, where there's nothing to say that you have to use traditional ingredients it in a certain way, and where experimentation and fun are the objective. Everything we do with Twisted Pit is a celebration of food and mealtimes, and the happiness it can bring to those that use it and those that share it.
Our country may be going through a tough time, but do not fear. We will rebuild and we will be strong again. The collective voice of new leadership, new ideas and fresh perspectives is growing louder both within Greece and from Greeks abroad. If you listen carefully you'll hear us....the artisanal farmers, the store-keepers, the manufacturers, the researchers, the journalists, the restaurateurs, the bloggers and the authors. We're on a mission to rebuild our country and serve once again as a model of what is good in the world.
Thanks for hearing me out.
Pyrgos, Korinthia, Greece.