Home > Notes From Athens > The Kitchen at the American School

The Kitchen at the American School

Each morning sometime around 6:30, I wander down the back stairway of the American School‘s Loring Hall to the kitchen.  The main floor of Loring Hall has a U-shaped “public space” with a service area occupying the center part of the U.  On the ground floor, this includes the professional kitchen and staff offices and storage; on the main floor, however, there is (what I think is) called a staging kitchen.  Each morning the staff of Loring Hall sit in the kitchen preparing breakfast for the students and faculty who arrive at around 7 am.


As I have noted before, Loring Hall is lovely but not a terribly homey place.  Its scale is institutional, it serves too many multiple functions, and its decor is too formal (if a bit threadbare).  Loring feels more like a lounge at an exclusive metropolitan club (just slightly past its day) than a place where people live.  One sleeps in Loring Hall, eats there, has conversations (always with a touch of formality and professionalism), meets people, but one does not live in Loring Hall in a proper sense.  The exception to this is the kitchen in the morning. 


Each day I have two cups of coffee, a bowl of somewhat ordinary mueseli and conversation with the women who staff Loring Hall for breakfast and lunch.  The conversation is in Greek and, properly speaking, I don’t know Greek (despite my best efforts), but I do manage to speak it every morning for about 3/4 of an hour.  I learn a few new words a day and try to use them throughout the conversation.  I did this every day when I was an Associate Member at the School and do it every day now.  It’s one of the few places in Loring Hall that feels like a place where one could live. Over the years they have welcomed and made to feel at home my friends, my wife, and my family. 


The conversation is wide ranging.  We talk about our home towns, the weather, our families, our work, and very often the news of the day.  This morning the talk was about the death of the Metropolitan Bishop of Greece — Archbishop Christodoulos, who succumbed to liver cancer late last night.  He was the youngest person to ever hold his position and was quite active and outspoken and popular.  He famously engaged in talks with Pope John Paul II and sometimes stirred controversy with his nationalist rhetoric.  It’s being picked up by the international press now (BBC, CNN, NYT/AP), but I heard about it in the kitchen.  In fact, I can hear the muted, somber bells from our neighbor,  Moni Petraki, as I write this.

Categories: Notes From Athens
  1. Rangar
    January 30, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Bill — Great to see the Loring Hall kitchen at breakfast! Say kalimera to Voula, Labrini, and Demetra for me.

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