A Turkish friend got me to watch the movie Rembekio while I was working with him in Greece. When I saw it, I was totally amazed, obsessed even. The aesthetics, the music and the romance of it stayed with me for such a long time.
Rembetiko is a type of Greek folk music that started in Asia Minor. After the 1922 occupation and destruction of Smyrna, the refugees who came back to Greece brought with them their culture and music. Rembetis, people that embraced the whole philosophy of rembetiko, would meet in tavernas and sing about heartbreak and nostalgia.
Their lifestyle was very particular, from their style of dress to their political views, which were traditionally anti-establishment. In the 30's Rembetiko began to represent a subculture of criminality and drugs. This aspect of rembetiko is what the film depicts. Crowded taverna scenes, loud , boozy nights. This coupled with the Greek/Turkish exchange of culture was an idea so romantic to me that I became fixated. As I started to look into it more I discovered there was an entire food genre called Politiki Kouzina. This is the expression of the food that came from this culture exchange. This roughly translates as food from the city, the city being Constantinople. This is the food of the people who had fled Istanbul for mainland Greece, bringing Turkish influence with them.
Using my time that I spent living in Turkey and Greece, I wanted to recreate the feeling of the taverna from the film in a pop-up restaurant. I wanted the music to match was I was cooking, Greek style simplicity with spices that are of Middle Eastern influence in Turkey. All the food was meze, small sharing style dishes, and it was set menu. The last set of nights was held at Cam's Kiosk in Abbortsford, have a look at the pictures of it, in my past events. If you haven't seen the movie, please watch it. I hope you become as transfixed as I did. We'll be hosting more of these dinners, check my events page for more information.