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Culture

Greek Restaurants’ Influence on Alabama City Caught in Film Philoxenia

Filmmaker Jessica Chrieseman knew right away when she decided to make a documentary about restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama that she'd go to those which changed the foodscape and were beloved: Greek eateries. It's called Philoxenia.

She was asked by the Southern Foodways Alliance to create a film for their 2021 Spring Symposium and told Southern Living that, “I immediately thought of the Greek restaurateurs who have fed Birmingham since its infancy.”

She wanted to know too why Greek immigrants took the chance to come to a country where they didn't speak the language and were often starting from the floor up, guided by their guts – and cooking skills and Greek food. She wanted to know how they could blend into a region with its own inimitable foods.

The film includes people and places like Beba and Tasos Touloupis, owners of Ted's Restaurant which serves southern dishes along with Greek; Demetri Nakos of Demetri's BBQ in suburban Homewood; Johnny's Restaurant, owned by Tom Hontzas – four times nominated for Best Chef South; Lee Pantazis' Gus' Hot dogs; The Bright Star in Bessemer, and George Sarris' The Fish Market.

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Mission…to Alonnisos, a TNH Documentary

O oceanic you sing and sail White on your body and yellow on your chimeneas For you're tired of the filthy waters of the harbors You who loved the distant Sporades You who lifted the tallest flags You who sail clear through the most dangerous caves Hail to you who let yourself be charmed by the sirens Hail to you for never having been afraid of the Symplegades (Andreas Empeirikos)   What traveler has not been fascinated by the Greek islands, drawn by the Sirens’ song of a traveler’s dreams? TNH and our video show ‘Mission’ marked the change of the season by transporting viewers into the heart of summer.

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