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A Touch of Spice

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A Touch of Spice

Fanis and his grandfather in A Touch of Spice

© Menemsha Films; used by permission

The Bottom Line

A great film to view if you're planning on visiting Greece and Turkey on your trip.

Pros

  • Charming film gives a glimpse into the plight of relocated Greeks in the early 1960s.
  • Definite fun for foodies
  • Excellent cast in the lead and supporting roles
  • Gently paced but never boring

Cons

  • Semi-autobiographical in nature, the film dips when it veers off into purely fictional territory.
  • Film is largely in Greek, subtitled in English, though a section near the end is mainly in English.

Description

  • Young Fanis finds himself fascinated with food and especially what spices can bring to a dish.
  • While his grandfather, a spice merchant, is delighted with his interest, Fanis' family has mixed feelings about his talent.
  • None of this matters much when the family is forced to uproot themselves from Turkey and "return" to a nearly alien Greece.

Guide Review - A Touch of Spice

A Touch of Spice gives a wonderful look at the background of the repatriated Greeks from Constantinople/Istanbul, making this an ideal film to see before a trip to Greece and Turkey. Along the way, viewers will learn a thing or two about spices and their effects on the emotions, in what could be thought of as a Greek "Chocolat".

Writer-Director Tassos Boumletis drew on his own experiences as a young Greek boy growing up in Turkey, who is influenced by his grandfather who owns a spice shop and relates everything in the world - and beyond - to spices. "Gastronomy rhymes with astronomy," he tells his grandson Fanis. "Pepper is like the sun, hot. Mercury is cayenne, that's hot, too. Venus is cinnamon, sweet and bitter, like a woman, and the earth, can you guess which spice the earth is? Salt. Everything comes to life under its influence." Fanis also innocently loves little Saime, a Turkish girl played by the radiant Gözde Akyildiz who dances for him and who shares her little metal toy oven for their spicy concoctions.

In Greek, the film is titled Politiki Kouzina - Kitchen Politics or Political Cuisine, but while the story is contained by the politics of the time, it's not just a commentary. The movie has a dreamy quality with touches of humor that carries the viewer along.

The ending of the story sees Fanis returning to Turkey, which echoes the director's own return. But in the film version, he encounters the grown-up Saime, and this section feels a bit forced, a unnecessary flirtation with a "Hollywood Ending" even though it does not quite come to pass.

DVD Release
A Touch of Spice
Writer/Director: Tassos Boulmetis
Producer: Dionysis Samiotis
ASIN: B0027AB988
From Village Roadshow Pictures
Distributed by Menemsha Films
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2:35:1
Compare Prices: A Touch of Spice DVD

Cast:

Fanis Iakovides - George Corraface
Savas Iakovides - Ieroklis Michaelidis
Soultana Iakovidou - Renia Louizidou
Uncle Aimilios - Stelios Mainas
Mustafa Tamer - Karadagli
Saime Basak - Köklükaya
Grandpa Vassilis - Tassos Bandis
Little Fanis - Markos Osse
Little Saime - Gözde Akyildiz

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