Giovanni Bellini The Feast of the Gods c1514 (completed by his disciple, Titian, 1529)
Yes, it’s high time again for an update on the Monastiraki kitchen, which the Automatic Earth has been – in various iterations- supporting since June 2015. One issue I have is that the main activity of the kitchen, cooking food, is the same all the time, so how do you write an interesting story about it several times a year, for 6,5 years now?
Let’s see how far we get this time. The kitchen runs more than ever, it is thriving, and expanding too. One thing that stood out this year was the wildfires that hit near Athens in 2021 in the first half of August. The Monastiraki kitchen was very active in the fall-out of those fires, in several different locations around the city.
A lot of food needed to be prepared, not only for the direct victims, people who lost their homes etc., but also for the firemen- and women who came from all over Europe to help fight the fires. The Greek government doesn’t appear to be very adept at tackling the logistics such an event brings along, so it relies on charity movements to fill in for it.
There were a number of groups, not just our kitchen, involved, the Love Van/ Scouts Of New Eritrea/ 4×4 Ekalis, and even our old friend Konstantinos and O Allos Anthropos. Together they were preparing 10,000 meals per day, plus salads and fruits, and cooking 16 hours a day. It looked something like this (I think I count 8 pots running simultaneously):
That photo was taken on the large island of Evia, northeast of Athens, 180 km long and 50 km wide at its widest point, which sustained enormous damage from the fires. It will take many years, perhaps decades, to recover.
Cooking on Evia also looked something like this. In Filothei’s own words: “After 16 hours cooking non stop, the gypsy was with out shoes, like that”.
That photo is a nice lead-in to my next topic. Look at the size of that pot. We have since bought a much bigger one, because we had to. The old 100 liter pot was simply not big enough anymore, the law of supply and demand. It took a while to find one at a good price, for a few months the best deal we could find was €700. But eventually we got one for €175. It lacks a protective layer above the bottom, but I understand that is not strictly necessary (bit more cleaning).
Turned out the guy we bought it from knew about the kitchen, and was very happy to help; he delivered it personally, gave us a lid for free, all good. If you compare the size of the pot in Filothei’s barefoot photo above with this next one, you get an idea of how big that thing is.
We went from a 100 liter pot to a 220 liter one, from 200+ meals tot 440+ meals per cooking. We still use the smaller one as well, of course, if the need is there. Two weeks ago, for instance, the kitchen made 641 meals in one cooking. Part of that was for a “sister-kitchen” in the port city of Piraeus, where there are also a lot of homeless people.
Piraeus is not only a very large commercial port, it is also home to all the ferries that service the Greek islands, and therefore a major tourism hub. And of course the authorities don’t want the tourists to see the homeless, so they have a hard life out there.
The pots side by side look like this, to give you another comparison:
And yes, it must obviously be thoroughly cleaned after each cooking:
Just as obviously, making 2-3 times more food is also going to cost a lot more. In summer, most of the vegetables will come from Filothei’s massive garden, but right now, that is a lot less. On top of that, prices at the supermarket for vegetables as well as the staples we buy there with the checks I purchase with your donations, pasta, canned tomatoes, meat, cheese, we checked it vs a year ago, are up by about 35% overall. So are the plates we use. Sign of the times.
We still have some money left from donations, thanks mainly to Ms. Barefoot Penny-Pincher, but I will still appeal to your Christmas spirit, so we can start 2022 in good spirits too.
In other words, the Monastiraki kitchen is thriving like never before, and your help will be needed to let it continue to do that. We expect to ultimately double the output to at least 400 meals twice a week, and if the Greek government insists on taking away €100 a month from everyone over 60 who has not been vaxxed, while a pension is €730 monthly, who knows how much more we will need to do?
I haven’t talked at all about the Covid restrictions and mandates that are being implemented here all the time, but they are pretty strict, and as always, it is guaranteed that a society’s weakest members, the homeless, will in the end bear the brunt of them.
I’m not going to vent my own view on the entire situation, either here abroad, we do that enough every day, but this is an aspect I think we should all keep in mind: the main victims of any such event are always the same: the children, the elderly and the poorest. And in the case of Covid, that risks remaining hidden by the complaints of everyone else, because everyone feels like a victim.
One more thing: at some point in spring, the crew wanted to make me a T-shirt, like they made for themselves, the ones you can see in some of the photos, and here:
And I said: why don’t we make T-shirts for all the homeless clients too? They have more use for it than I do, and the visibility is good. The idea died because Ms. Penny-Pincher thought it was too expensive at €4 a piece, but I will make sure it is revived at some point. Make 200 for the homeless, and 200 to sell on the Automatic Earth site, with revenue going to the kitchen. Sounds pretty good. It must be organized, and I’m not going to be the one packaging and sending them, but we’ll find a solution for that.
Merry Christmas to you all from everyone at the Monastiraki kitchen -there’s often about 20 of them-. And once again: we couldn’t do it without you. I’ll end with the same bit I did last time, the donation details.
Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also end up at the kitchen).
I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.
But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.
I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.
Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.
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