Island Utopia

In This Land Nobody Knew How To Cry directed by Giorgos Panousopoulos (Greece) 2018 is a virtual kick in the balls of neoliberalism.


A troika of technocrats from the European Parliament is on a mission to assess the conditions of an island in the Aegean whose population is slated to be relocated in order to reduce state expenses and maximize profits in the economic sector.

The long title of the film is a parody of another title, The Island Where People Forget To Die, used to describe life on Ikaria, one of several Blue Zone communities. Fitting since it was the location chosen for the film production.

Ikaria has long been used as a place of exile dating back to the Byzantine era and dissidents were sent there during WWII. It’s known for its hostility toward capitalism. And its thermal baths are popular with many locals and visitors.

All of this and more are incorporated into the story that unfolds on the contemporary fictional paradise shown in the film.

In This Land Nobody Knew How To Cry was one of eight features screened during the 16th San Francisco Greek Film Festival.

copyright © 2019 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Culinary Roots

Ikaria: Lessons On Food, Life, And Longevity by Diane Kochilas published 2014 by Rodale spotlights the Aegean island heritage of the author. While there are a substantial number of health tips scattered throughout because of the locale’s Blue Zone status, the heart of this book and its most valuable asset lies in its recipes.


One surprise for me was the inclusion of tarot root among native ingredients and I look forward to trying the instructions for skordalia (page 9), a dish I’ve only had using potato or bread as the base for this garlic dip.

Other tantalizing dishes are: whipped feta kaponisti (page 7); old style Ikarian tourlou (page 135) casserole combining potatoes and zucchini; noodles with yogurt and herbs (page 190); smoked herring rice (page 201); and baby goat with avgolemono (page 243).

When searching for a recipe in the index, look first for a key ingredient and then zero in on the name of the dish!

I frequently cook savory pies from an earlier Kochilas book, The Glorious Foods Of Greece but my attempt to make my own phyllo dough was unsuccessful. However I’m going to give it another try with one of the recipes in the section on savory pies and breads.

Ikaria by Diane Kochilas, with photos by her husband Vassilis Stenos, is available in both a hardbound and e-book edition from Rodale Books.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Longevity Project

The Blue Zones (Second Edition) by Dan Buettner, National Geographic 2012 is a report about a world-wide study of centenarians: women and men over a hundred years of age. The author traces his travels to areas where there are a significant number of people that fall within that demographic. The newest edition includes two Mediterranean islands: Sardinia and Ikaria.


Ponce de Leon searched for a legendary Fountain of Youth but tailed to find it and there are a myriad of products and services promising to delay or reverse the aging process in humans. Buettner initially attempted to indentify a single factor but found a variety of possibilities among the people he met during his travels. In some cases there were contradictions between cultures he studied. In his summary he lists nine general principles.

The fundamental question underlying the research is, What does it mean to live a good life? There are dangers in succumbing to the extremes of material deprivation or overabundance. There are negative consequences to personal isolation and definite benefits of human engagement with others. Longevity is all about quality of life at every stage of development.

copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Australian Filmmaker

Anthony Maras is an award-winning Australian filmmaker. He’s a native of Adelaide, with roots on the island of Ikaria, Greece. Maras received a degree in Law and Legal Practice from Flinders University in South Austrlia before going on to study film production at the University Of California Santa Barbara.

After returning to Australia Anthony Maras produced his first short film, Azadi (2005), a refugee drama. This was followed by Spike Up (2007), a drama about a family in the drug trade; and, his most recent work, The Palace (2011), set in Cyprus during the 1974 war between Turkish and Greek forces.

The Palace, an Australian-Turkish production, featured an international cast that included Kevork Malikyan, who also played in Midnight Express, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. It won twice at the 2012  Australian Academy Of Cinema And Television Arts Awards: Best Short Fiction Film and Best Screenplay In A Short Film.

Maras also worked as associate producer on Last Ride, the 2009 debut feature film by Palm D’Or winning director Glendyn Ivin that starred Hugo Weaving.

There’s a trailer for The Palace on his web site and a two-minute video interview of Anthony Maras on YouTube.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Great Greek Eats

Greek food is more than dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach pie), and avgolemono soupa (egg-lemon soup). Many Greek cookbooks include these and other well-known favorites. They’re on the menu of every food festival, in the table of contents of every church recipe book, and what we remember eating at grandmother’s house.

I rely on Greek Cooking For The Gods by Eva Zane, 101 Productions, 1970 for the basics. However, that book is out of print. Modern Greek by Andy Harris, Chronicle Books, 2002 is a wonderful alternative. The later book is beautifully designed and filled with full-color photos throughout.

Anyone who wants to delve more deeply into the regional food of Greece should check out The Glorious Foods Of Greece by Diane Kochilas, William Morrow, 2001. The book covers each of a dozen regions of the country: the foods typical of each, what is usually available, and numerous recipes gathered from local cooks she met during her travels while researching the book.

The first dish I prepared from her book was the cheese and squash pie from Hania on page 420. I wanted to replicate one of several courses served by Maria on her balcony in Athens one summer night a couple years ago. Since then I also cooked savory pies from other areas that are now a part of my culinary repertoire.

Kochilas is a New Yorker with roots on the island of Ikaria. She currently lives in Athens and has a cooking school on the northern side of the island. She has her own web site,, and quite a few videos on YouTube.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Nikos 2011

I publish under the name N A Diaman, however my friends call me Nikos.

Born 1 November 1936 in San Francisco, a fourth generation Californian and the first United States native in my family. Both parents and three of my grandparents originated on Ikaria, a small island in the Eastern Aegean.

I graduated from the University of Southern California, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1958, as a Humanities major and Television minor.

Lived in Los Angeles, New York and Paris, before returning home to San Francisco in 1972.

Traveled extensively in Mexico and also visited Greece, Italy and Turkey.

I strongly identify as a Mediterranean.

The author of ten books published by Persona Press, San Francisco. The last two titles are 2009 travel memoirs: Paris Dreams and Athens Apartment.

Books available at Amazon & Powell’s

image & text copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved