The Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center (HMCC) is looking to the Greek community for help in obtaining a wide variety of items that reveal the role that food has played in the Greek family, community and business life.
Greek food and its role in the formation of our community will be portrayed in an upcoming exhibit that will open early in 2007 titled, “Nourishing Culture: Greek Immigrants and Food in Chicago.”
You can help by loaning HMCC photographs, items and artifacts that reflect ordinary daily life as well as special or noteworthy occasions. Items such as treasured kitchen utensils, cookbooks produced by Philoptochos societies, handwritten recipes or dinnerware brought from Greece used to prepare Greek dishes. Items that reflect a combining of Greek and American foods or food traditions are particularly sought.
Useful artifacts include items like flyers for church picnics, items from coffeehouses, or even menus from wedding dinners. Photographs of families eating or preparing food at ordinary family meals and special occasion meals such as weddings, funerals, festivals, and holidays are also needed.
HMCC is also interested in interior photographs and in all types of memorabilia and objects from Greek owned food businesses as well as various associations of food entrepreneurs that were formed. We are especially in need of photographs of food peddlers and of an authentic peddler's cart. Many of our ancestors began their business careers by the exhausting work of peddling.
The exhibit at the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center will illustrate the experiences of Greek immigrants to Chicago as they struggled to recreate the familiar meals and traditions of home amidst their new urban environment. From the dilemma of early single, male immigrants forced to cope without wives and mothers, to the strong and powerful role accorded to women by their control of the kitchen, and the creative efforts of entrepreneurs to provide access to the ethnic foods Greek immigrants craved, food has helped define our identity.
Please look in your kitchens, your scrapbooks, and your attics for artifacts that will help HMCC tell this mouth-watering story. Your treasures will be handled with care. Loaned photographs will be copied and returned and all objects will be returned at the close of the exhibit. Please contact Museum Curator, Allison Heller (312) 655-1234 ext. 23 for more information.