Aristophanes was the most important Greek comedian writer during ancient years. He was born in 446 BC in Athens and died in the same city in 386 BC. Apart from a great comedian writer, he was also a poet. He is the only satiric poet whose several plays are saved almost intact. From the 46 comedies he wrote, we have at our disposal 11 intact and 924 fragments of the others.
“Ornithes” which in Greek means “hens” was presented in 414 BC by Aristophanes in fests in honor of god Dionysus and won the second prize. He wrote the play because he was deeply disappointed by the course of the Peloponnesian war between Sparta and Athens. In this play he mocks the slanderers and the flatterers and also the theories about new regimes.
The story goes like this: “Two Athenian friends the conniving Pisthéteros and honest Evelpìdes are trying to find a hoopoe who was believed to be a human once, to ask about a city in which one could live peacefully, quietly and richly. When they do find the bird, it says that there is no such city. Pisthéteros then has an idea to establish along with the hoopoe a city of birds in the air space between the world of humans and the world of gods. All together, they call all birds to announce the ambitious plan.
The other birds were angry because humans trespassed their land but Pisthéteros flatters them and convince them to establish that city. In the end the birds agree to find the city “Nefelokokkigìa” which means “the cuckoo house in the clouds” having as a target to be the intermediates between gods and humans.
The birds start the building of the walls that will surround the city of the birds having as a further result that the smell of the sacrifices of humans will not able to reach gods. While the wall of the city is building several people, who wanted to exploit and flatter came and tried to gain some profit out of the building of this city, but Pisthéteros manages to get rid of them and the wall is completed.
In the meantime, gods are beginning to get hungry because the smell from the sacrifice of animals doesn’t arrive up in their palace. They send Iris but Pisthéteros kicks her out. After gods see that Iris comes back without any real results, they decide to send the great eater Hercules and the brutal Trivallòs. After strong negotiations Pisthéteros marries the young goddess Vasilia and a marriage takes place at the last scene of the play.
Every year during summer in ancient theaters around Greece several plays from ancient poets are played including those of Aristophanes. This one is a favorite of many directors and usually it is played at least once every year. It is a magical experience to view such a play in the same theater it was originally played thousand years ago. Sitting on the same seats our ancestors sat and enjoyed those same plays.
As I was making these little mushroom bites with ground chicken, I recalled the time I visited the ancient theater of Epidaurus and watched “hens” some years ago. It was truly a spectacular experience.
This finger food is ideal for a light dinner or better yet for a friendly gathering as part of buffet or as a starter. You can prepare the ground meat in advance and just bake everything just before serving time.
- 20 large brown mushrooms
- 500 gr. / 1 lb. ground chicken
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup shredded melting cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried mint
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- ½ cup shredded melting cheese
- In a bowl add all the ingredients except the last ½ cup of cheese and kneed until everything is incorporated.
- Take the mushrooms and cut their stems.
- In a preheated oven at 200˚C / 350˚F bake the mushrooms with their hollow side down for about 15 minutes.
- Take them out of the oven without turning it off.
- Turn them so as their hollow side to face upwards.
- From the last ½ cup of cheese spread about 1 tsp to each mushroom on its hollow side.
- Make small balls from the ground chicken and place them above the cheese.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 200˚C / 350˚F until the ground chicken is done and the mushrooms are somewhat soft about 20 minutes.
- 20 μεγάλα καφετιά μανιτάρια
- 500 gr. Κιμά από κοτόπουλο
- ½ φλ. φρυγανιά
- 1 αυγό
- ¼ φλ. γάλα
- ¼ φλ. ελαιόλαδο
- ½ φλ. Τριμμένο τυρί
- 1 κ.γ. αλάτι
- 1 κ.γ. αποξηραμένο βασιλικό
- ½ κ.γ. πάπρικα
- ½ κ.γ. θυμάρι
- ½ κ.γ. δυόσμο
- 1 κ.γ. πιπέρι
- ½ φλ. Τυρί τριμμένο
- Σε ένα μπολ βάζουμε όλα τα υλικά εκτός από το τελευταίο ½ φλιτζάνι τυρί και ζυμώνουμε μέχρι να ενσωματωθούν όλα τα υλικά.
- Παίρνουμε τα μανιτάρια και κόβουμε τους μίσχους.
- Τα βάζουμε με το κοίλο μέρος προς τα κάτω σε προθερμασμένο φούρνο στους 200°C και τα ψήνουμε για 15 λεπτά.
- Τα βγάζουμε, τα γυρίζουμε έτσι ώστε το κοίλο τους μέρος να βλέπει προς τα πάνω.
- Από το τελευταίο ½ φλιτζάνι τυρί βάζουμε περίπου 1 κουταλάκι του γλυκού σε κάθε μανιτάρι στην κοίλη πλευρά.
- Πλάθουμε τον κιμά σε μικρές μπαλίτσες και βάζουμε μία πάνω από το τυρί σε κάθε μανιτάρι.
- Ψήνουμε σε προθερμασμένο φούρνο στους 200˚C μέχρι να ροδοκοκκινίσει το κρέας και τα μανιτάρια να αρχίσουν να μαλακώνουν περίπου 20 λεπτά.