Sunday, August 3, 2008

15.0 ABBA the Greek

Starring Erin & Mike and Adam & Josh
Filmed on Location in the Beautiful Sellwood-Moreland Neighborhoods
Soundtrack: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of ABBA

“All I do is eat and sleep and sing…”

Tonight we go Greek! What’s the occasion? Why our sudden interest in the Hellenic Republic? Perhaps Penguin has finally published a Portable Kazantzakis? Sadly, no. No Nikos (I guess I’ll have to read ALL of "The Greek Passion" now).

The occasion celebrates the release of “Mamma Mia”, the movie of the musical of the songs of Swedish hit-makers ABBA. Aren’t they Swedish? They sure are (especially Agnetha!), but the film’s setting is the Greek Isles. So that’s why we’re going Greek!

Is there a Sellwood angle? Isn’t there always?

“No, actually, there usually isn’t,” you say

Well, there is this time – we’re seeing it at the Moreland Theater!

“Isn’t that a Moreland angle?”

(Sigh) Let’s listen to “Waterloo”, shall we?

Josh is the first (of two) to arrive, driving straight from work. So we start drinking wine, as the ancient Greeks would have (no retsina, just some merlot).

Also of note this temperate summer evening, Erin & I have moved the Sellwood Kitchen. We’re still in Sellwood (yes, I mean Sellwood, not one of the Morelands), just a different part of the neighborhood. Not much else to say, I guess. Maybe not even worth mentioning.

Egads! Trouble at the kitchen sink! The “fresh” garlic we just purchased had an insect in it. I’ll refrain from mentioning the establishment, but suffice to say, it is NOT located in Sellwood. And we will not buy garlic, or any other non-artificial item, from there again!

Adam’s here! “Hey, Adam, you just missed the maggot!” (Note to aspiring writers: This is not proper “food column” talk, but thank Zeus, this is not a proper “food column.”)

I’ve got The Best of ABBA playing through for the second time. I feel like I’ve got to stick with the ABBA thing all the way to the end of the article. I’d rather be listening to The Dead Milkmen’s Big Lizard in My Backyard, or even one of Jens Lekman’s ep's. At least, I’d be faithful to the Swedish theme.

“It’s supposed to be a Greek theme,” you report.

(Sigh) Let’s drown out the riff-raff with “Dancing Queen” which is a terrific song. Starts with the chorus. Fantastic! Though not nearly as amazing as Erin’s warm and fresh hummus! At its entrance, I jump up, smash my knee on the coffee cable, curse in faux-Italian, and retrieve from the shelf The Collected Poems of C P. Cavafy. The late Modern Greek poet wrote:

From one monotonous day, another day
follows, identically monotonous.

Yikes! Lighten up, Constantine! Poets, right? And how am I eating this hummus? Not with my fingers (for a change), but with Erin’s recipe #2: Pita bread. Or pitta. Or Sunshine Schwarz. Call it whatever you want – it wrangles with the hummus for a world title!

Greece is myth or no myth; history’s playpen or atomizer. And what a great flag! And literature! And I almost forgot Vangelis! His work in Aphrodite’s Child is only surpassed by his soundtrack to “Blade Runner!”

Obviously, I pride myself as sort of a Greek scholar. (I hope no one from Eleni’s Estiatorio on SE 13th reads this and reveals my unfathomable ignorance!) Truthfully, I know as much about Hellenic history as Poseidon knows about t-shirts.

Fifteen minutes before showtime, we say farewell to Dionysus and hello to Hollywood! Piling into the Element, we arrive at the Moreland Theater as the lights go down. The majority of us enjoy the musical (which entails listening to “S.O.S” for the 8th or 9th time this evening, only this time it’s being massacred by Pierce Brosnan who curiously possesses the kind of voice you’d expect from Ernest Borgnine. Or Tova. Dreadful. Still, the movie was fun. What else do you want? It’s an entertainment! Go see it at the Moreland Theater. The best theater in Portland!

If only they served warm hummus! Luckily, the Sellwood Kitchen serves warm hummus. Despite our dining area resembling Cerberus and Orthrus’ kennel, remnants of tonight’s meal welcome our return! I leap the gate, burst through the door and scarf down a pita, bits of bread sprinkling from my mouth as I whistle “Super Trouper.” The winner takes it all! Hail Eris!


Pita bread:
1.5 cups flour
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
Ice water

Mix flour, salt, oregano and EVOO together.
One spoonful at a time, add ice water and mix with a fork until mixture forms a dough.
Knead dough about 10 times and divide into 4 small balls.
Roll out each ball as thick as you would a pie crust. (6 or 8" rounds)

In non-stick skillet over medium heat: Cook each pita 2-4 minutes on each side or until they just begin to brown.

1 can garbanzo beans, drained.
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a food processor add: Garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper and parsley.
Start with a splash of EVOO and blend well. Add enough EVOO to reach a smooth consistency. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at: