Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring - The Presence of Persephone

Persephone must be free, because Spring is in full swing. 

Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and everyone, gods and mortals alike, worked hard to keep Demeter happy, because the moment she became sad or mad, the crops could die, and what made her happiest was enjoying the company of her daughter, Persephone.

One day, though, Persephone, as she was picking flowers, was kidnapped by Hades (who was enamored with Persephone the moment he saw her) and taken into the darkest depths of the underworld.

Locked in a room in the Hall of Hades she refused to eat. Legend said if you ate anything in Hades, you could never leave. She did not know if the legend was true, but she did not want to risk it in case someone came to rescue her. After a while, like any good Greek girl, Persephone was starting to get hungry for her native Mediterranean food. (She'd have probably enjoyed getting out for a evening cocktail and a mezze or two at Ziziki's Taverna!)

Nearly a week went by, but finally, unable to stand her hunger, Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds. Sadly, she would now have to live in the Underworld forever.

Then Zeus, worried, sent Hermes, his youngest son, the messenger, to make a deal with Hades. Even as a baby, Hermes was great at making deals. (Everyone knew that!) So, When Hermes heard that Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, he had to think quickly.  The deal he made with Hades was that if Persephone would marry Hades, she would live as queen of the underworld for six months out of the year. However, each spring, Persephone would return and live on earth for the other six months of the year. Everyone agreed to the plan.

So now, each Spring, Demeter makes sure all the flowers bloom in welcome when her daughter, Queen of the Underworld, returns to her. Each Fall, when Persephone returns to Hades, Demeter cries, and lets all the crops die until Spring, when the cycle starts again.

We feel pretty lucky for these seasons, especially since Spring is when we get all of our fresh ingredients for our Greek cuisine. Like tomatoes – which can be used as roma tomatoes to go with your Caprese Salad or your Mediterranean Bread, and potatoes – which are an especially good side when roasted and served as a side dish, just like the seasoned rice, with yummy sauces and other Springtime specialties at all Zizikis Restaurants. OPA!

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