The original Greek title is Πολίτικη Κουζίνα (Politiki Kouzina) which means Cuisine of the City and refers to the Cuisine of Constantinople. However, in the film's promotional material , the word Politiki of the title is depicted in capital letters, therefore allowing an alternative reading of the title, due to the lack of punctuation, as Πολιτική Κουζίνα (Politiki Kouzina) which means Political Cuisine signifying the important role that politics played in the lives of the main characters.
The Turkish title, "Bir Tutam Baharat" means "A Touch of Spice".
Fanis Iakovides, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, recalls his childhood memories from growing up in Istanbul. When Fanis was 7 years old, his grandfather Vassilis was an owner of a general store with a specialty in spices. He was also a culinary philosopher and his mentor. Fanis grew very attached to his grandfather who would assist with his homework using imaginative techniques. For instance, Vassilis would teach his grandson the planets of the Solar System by showing an illustration of it and replacing the planets with spices. Cinnamon took the place of Venus since according to Vassilis, "like all women, cinnamon is both bitter and sweet". Fanis also fell in love for the first time in his grandfather store's upper floor with a young Turkish girl, Saime.
However, beginning with the Istanbul Pogrom in 1955, through 1978, the ethnic Greek community of Istanbul was reduced from 135,000 to 7,000 by a series of government orchestrated riots, pogroms and deportations. Most of Fanis' family is deported in 1964 with the Ankara government decision to renege on the 1930 Greco-Turkish Ankara Convention, affirming the right of Greek etablis (Greeks who were born and lived in Istanbul but held Greek citizenship) to live and work in Turkey, and most Greek citizens who lived in Constantinople were deported to Greece, despite most never having previously resided there. Since Vassilis was not a dual citizen, he was able to stay behind while his grandson Fanis and his parents were deported to Athens.
Fanis had trouble initially adapting in Greece, constantly trying to spend his time in the kitchen cooking, as it was the only link between him and his homeland. However, this would upset his mother who was afraid that the boy was either severely depressed or a homosexual. Fanis grew from childhood to adulthood, preserving his culinary talents and often offering his secrets of the Politiki Cuisine to those that ask for his help.
As the years passed by, and the tension between Turkey and Greece resolved, grandfather Vassilis made several promises to visit his grandson in Athens but failed to keep them. The reason for the final incompletion of this engagement was his rapidly declining health. Consequently, Fanis returns to Constantinople after three decades to visit his near-death grandfather and also runs into his old love, Saime, who is now married. Together, they reflect on their lives and the way politics managed to change everything.
Fanis will eventually realize that contrary to what his grandfather had taught him, he forgot to put a little bit of spice in his own life.
The main characters easily fit into a parallel metaphor - Saime, the old love of Fanis, a beautiful Turkish girl and multi-lingual tour guide, represents Istanbul (a cosmopolitan city called a "she" in Greek), Fanis is modern Greece, one that is still deeply in love with Constantinople and nostalgic for the past, while Saime's husband is a Turkish military doctor who represents a modern, pragmatic Turkey.Georges Corraface as Fanis Iakovidis
Ieroklis Michaelidis as Savvas Iakovidis
Renia Louizidou as Soultana Iakovidou
Tamer Karadağlı as Mustafa
Başak Köklükaya as Saime
Tassos Bandis as Grandpa Vasilis
Stelios Mainas as Uncle Aimilios
Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos as Fanis - 18 years old
Markos Osse as Fanis - 8 years old
Thodoros Exarhos as Thrasyvoulos
Athinodoros Prousalis as Iordanis
Kakia Panagiotou as Aunt Elpiniki
Dina Mihailidou as Dorothea
Themis Panou as Osman Beis
Politiki Kouzina was released nationwide in Greece on Friday, 24 October 2003. It sold 62,091 admissions on its opening weekend (Friday-to-Sunday), with other reports putting it an estimated 65,000 admissions, including 46,500 admissions in Athens. It went on to sell 33,000 admissions on a single day, the 28th of October which is a national holiday. In Athens, its second, third and fourth weekends were well above its opening weekend in terms of admissions. In Athens, it remained in first place for 6 consecutive weekends and in the top 10 for 17 consecutive weekends. By the end of its run, it had sold more than 700,000 admissions in Athens alone, included in the total of about 1,300,000 admissions nationwide, which set a record among Greek films for the largest number of admissions sold in Greece, a record that still stands as of September 2016. It also ranks as second-largest among all films (Greek and foreign) in terms of admissions, behind Titanic. Other reports put the nationwide total at 1,600,000, 1,560,000 or 1,277,902 admissions.
winner:2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Film
2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Director (Tassos Boulmetis)
2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Screenplay (Tassos Boulmetis)
2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Music (Evanthia Reboutsika)
2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Cinematography
2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Editing
2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Set Design
2003: Greek State Film Awards for Best Sound