FOOD & MEMORY

1. I begin with two anecdotes.

a) When my friend Stavroula Markoulaki, archaeologist and president of the Historical, Folklore and Archaeological Society of Crete, ate a piece of fresh xinohondros during the Saturday branch of the 1 st Symposium of Greek Gastronomy she shook her head and said ” I feel such a fool”. Why? Because while living in the village Apothikes with her parents she never interested in her mother’s rich and complex knowledge of cooking and cheese making. “Now that I am interested in her rural  cooking, she is dead and I don’t remember how to recreate her recipes. Oh my poor mom.  I miss her so much!”

The cultural gap between rural mother and modern, educated daughter brought considerable changes in the transmission of traditional food. However, xinohontros evoked some of my friend’s deepest memories.

 (Photo credit: Kyrstyn Kralovec)

Cretan xinohondros is a dried food based on a cooked mixture of fermented milk and cracked wheat. When it is still fresh and soft, xinohondros is a delicious creamy food. 

b) Food has own stories to tell.

Katina Providaki and her tiganopites (Photo credit: Kyrstyn Kralovec)

During the preparation for the Symposium Saturday dinner, Katina Providaki, a volunteer local cook, suggested tentatively that she would like to make tiganopsomo (fried leavened flatbread).  I was surprised when her 30 years old son said that his mother never makes it at home. “Why haven’t you ever made tiganopsomo for Stratis?” I asked her. “ This is  a treasured delicacy from my childhood” she answered. ”My mother made use of the leftover bread dough; she  hand flattened  it after rising and fried it.  While it was still warm she drizzled it with petimezi… you see, honey was very expensive but everybody had a little jar of petimezi.  But after my mother passed away (she died when Katerina was 14 years old) I didn’t even try to make a tiganopsomo. My heart would break, I thought. Tomorrow, for the first time in my life,  I will make tiganopsomo. Thus you will see how a poor mother “soothed her child’s insides” (malakone ta mesa tou paidiou tis)
For Katina  tiganopsomo is the symbol of her mother’s love and care.  And as Marcel Proust wrote in Remembrance of Things Past   “…when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection” (Volume 1: Swann’s Way: Within a Budding Grove, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin p. 58).

Why does food hold such power?

2. Sadly, even in villages the knowledge of traditional foodstuffs is rapidly declining, while there is also a considerable loss of memory  of poor people’s foods. Lantouridia is a typical dish of Crete’s “poor” cuisine. The most common way to prepare them  is to combine flour or bread with water to form very small balls of dough.   They  are cooked in boiling water or milk or meat broth and they are served as a very thick soup. If they are  boiled in water or milk they can be served with sugar or honey.

To make a pot of lantouridia for the Symposium Saturday dinner, the volunteer cook asked about 10 women. No one wanted to remember the exact method of preparation.  (Who cares about those foods?  They were poor, as poor as our houses. I don’t want to remember them… I don’t want to remember those days”: Stella Konstantoulaki).

I wonder how these foods are going to be archived for future generations.

3.  Smelling a pot of basil or homemade stakovoutyro (butter) “It really smells like Chania!”

Stakovoutyro (Photo credit: Kyrstyn Kralovec)

In Greek, the experience of self -imposed exile, the  absence from one’s home due to immigration is called “xenitia”. Xenitia conveys  a condition of estrangement, hard living in foreign lands, long absence from homeland, though  it can exploited  to the benefit of the immigrant. It provokes an intense, deep pain of longing to return home (nostalgia).
The tastes and smells of homeland  accompany xenitemenous (immigrants) in their  new homes. The food recalls memories that include parents, relatives, friends, past events,  homeland itself.

a) Xenitemenoi need to have some object as a tangible site for memory. Packages of food sent to  migrants is a common link to home. Sometimes they are given the word “kaloudia” (goodies) and they carry inside them the sun of the homeland, its sea, the smells of family house, the mother’s love. They are a piece of patrida (homeland).

b)Xenitemenoi live with a foot in both worlds. For them,  the role of food and memory in preserving their identity is as essential as the language and news from home. Thus, food not only express the sense of loss and desire for home but also signifies a sense of belonging. Two Symposium speakers,Maria Verivaki and Ozlem Yasayanlar ,  referred to this wonderful part of culture, the food memories and identity. Please click here to read the abstracts of their announcements: http://greekgastronomy.wordpress.com/abstracts/

And click here to read a great article about xenos (foreigner), xenia (hospitality)  xenitia and xenophobia  http://diatribe-column.blogspot.com/2007/10/xenia.html

As you  have probably already guessed,  the theme for the 2013 Symposium  will focus on Food, Memory and Identity.

ΓΙΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΕΔΩ

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AFTER THE 1st SYMPOSIUM OF GREEK GASTRONOMY


It is more than three weeks that the 1st of the Symposia on Greek Gastronomy is over but since I can say that it went very well, I wanted to share some thoughts on it …

Speakers were the most critical aspect that contributed to the success of conference. They shared their knowledge and they generated questions on a wide variety of topics related to History and Evolution of Cretan cuisine. You can read the abstracts here:

http://greekgastronomy.wordpress.com/abstracts/

However, much of Symposium’s success was due to all those who supported it or voluntarily contributed to its development.

Because, if a conference doesn’t have much money it must have a team of dedicated people…

But,

our Symposium had a great group of dedicated volunteers,

though they had never met each other…

though they had come from different backgrounds and countries ( and I must say I was impressed with the quick respsonse from foreigner residents of Crete).

Moreover, the whole village that hosted the Symposium volunteered. Yes, the whole thing was embraced enthusiastically by the locals….

And

people of different generational ages, gender and ethnicity worked so well together!

Of course,

I recognise the valuable contribution from our sponsors. They made our job much easier and helped make the Symposium enjoyble for participants. So I won’t forget the constant support Stratos Milidakis gave us (administrator at Oadyk/Project: Gastronomy Routes and Culture of Flavors Network under AXIS 4). I will not forget Mrs Nikolakakis’ kindness (Anek lines).

I will remember with deepest appreciation Philip Exadaktylos, Giorgos Detsis and Vicky Koumantou. We welcomed them as sponsors but they quickly became our friends. They also did volunteer work.

Nor will I forget Alexandra Manousakis and Katernina Douloufakis from the most respected Cretan wineries, Manousakis and Douloufakis respectively. Their wines capture their charm.

And I am touched by the “Iardanos”, the association of tradesmen and entrepreneurs of Platanias. Their packages were filled with wonderful goodies.

 

But

the entire Symposium would look very different without the generosity and support of our volunteers. They helped in all kinds of ways, from fetching, carrying, serving, cooking dinners for 150-250 people, to translating, interpeting (what a demanding job! Two volunteers did it magnificently) , offering hospitality, photographing etc. Their effort is deeply appreciated.

 

 

The youngest and most dedicated volunteers: Orfeas Dialinos (11 years old), George Pantelakis (16 years old), Anna Iakovou (13 years old)

 

Of course,

I would like to give a special thanks to the chairpersons of the sessions and particularly to Jennifer Moody, landscape archaeologist, for taking the time to contribute to Symposium conclusions.

Many many thanks to Evangelia Voutsaki, a gifted and inspired young photographer. Her photographs were shown projected as part of a slide show during the symposium.

Special tribute goes to the women of the village. Women of almost all ages, from their 30s to their 90s, cooked for the dinners. They seduced us with the food and heritage of the region where they live and with their respect for the raw materials and their appropriate seasons. Those enthusiastic home – cooks shared wonderful recipes and stories and they offered their warm hospitality to the Symposium participants.

I deeply thank them all.

 

To see pictures of volunteers, click here.

You will find a man’s image among the pictures of women cooks. When pilafi is made in large quantities, it is a man’s job.

For the menu click  here .

If you speak Greek, watch the videos below to find out more about the dishes of the Saturday dinner.

 

watch?v=231LVm0L6ds&feature=related

watch?v=_oFanvNexyQ&feature=related

watch?v=Ycda8CmBgP4&feature=related

 

Some refreshments were made by volunteers, speakers and sponsors. The lemonade with the wonderful scent of lemon verbena was made by ethonobatnologist Fusun Ertug, who was speaker in our Symposium.  To make it  mix 1 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice with cold  sugar syrup (5 cups of water, 1 cup of sugar. Steep 10 leaves in the mixture of hot syrup for at least ten minutes).    Soumada, a delicious, soft, almond flavored drink was made by  Vicky Koumantou . Click here to read about thassorofon  , its Byzantine version.  A cup of  refreshing iced mountain tea was the perfect  treat to quench our thirst.  To make it, fill a large pot with water and add mountain tea (Sideritis syriaca), some marjoram and 3-4 leaves of sage. Bring water up to a boil and let steep. Strain the mixture  into jag, let it cool  and refrigerate it. This is ideal for summer time.  When ready to serve, add some slices of lemon.  You can drink it as a refreshment, it is perfect to accompany a light meal though.

If you would like to try the dish of lentils and bulgur that was included in the Sunday menu, a cup of iced mountain tea goes so well with it!  The ingredients you will need to make the dish are: 2 parts of boiled lentils and 1 part of wheat grains soaked in water. Strain both lentils and wheat grains, add salt to taste, mix and let cool. Add chopped parsley, chopped onions, cumin, olive oil and wine vinegar.

 

 

Special thanks to the Cultural Association “Risa” for graciously opening up the old school of Karanou to us for two days.

 

 

ΓΙΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΕΔΩ

1st SYMPOSIUM OF GREEK GASTRONOMY: THE PROGRAMME

CRETAN CUISINE: HISTORY, EVOLUTION, QUESTIONS & ANSWERS (?)

July 16-17, 2011, Karanou (Municipality of Platanias, Chania/Crete)

Saturday, July 16

8:30 Registration

9.30 Welcome messages from Ioannis Malandrakis, Mayor of Platatanias, and the organizers Mariana Kavroulaki & Stavroula Markoulaki, president of Historical, Folklore and Archaeological Society of Crete.

Session I Chair: Kostas Moutzouris

10:00 The importance, for archaeology, to study the fauna and the flora on excavations in Greece in order to address a more complete study of ancient diets.
Anaya Sarpaki Dr. Archaeologist / Archaeobotanist & Melpo Skoula Dr. Βiologist/ Botanist, Park for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna at the TUC

10:20 Tastes from seeds in prehistoric Greece: seeking continuities and discontinuities in archaeo-botanical data.
Sultana Maria Valamoti, Αrchaeologist /Assistant Professor, AUTH

10:40 “Lucullian meals” depicted in the mosaics of ancient Kissamos.
Stavroula Markoulaki, Ph.D Αrchaeologist

11:00 Questions and answers

11:20 Edible Wild weeds in Venetian Crete (Poster).
Kyriaki Panteli, Social Geographer

11:40 Coffee / Mountain Tea Break with a parade of Cretan cheeses, local preserved meat, home made bread, olives and more.

Session II Chair: Stavroula Markoulaki

12:00 Botanical Diversity in the Cretan Diet.
Melpo Skoula, Dr., Biologist / Botanist- Anaya Sarpaki, Dr. Arcaeologist/Archaeobotanist, Park for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna, Technical University of Crete – Costanza Dal Cin D’Agata, Biologist, Park for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna, Technical University of Crete

12:20 Wild leafy greens in the “Cretan diet”.
Costas D. Economakis, Agronomist, former Senior Researcher ΕΘΙΑΓΕ

12:40 Ten Edible Native Grasses and their Involvement in the Diet of the Present-Day Inhabitants of Eastern Crete Today.
Antonia Psaroudakis, Agricultural University of Athens, Department of Crop Production, Agricultural Experimentation and Laboratory of Plant Breeding / Technological Institute of Crete, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics (speaker) – Petros Dimitropoulakis, Technological Institute of Crete, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics – Theofanis Constantinides, National and Capodistrian University of Athens, Department of Biology, Department of Ecology and Taxonomy – Andreas Katsiotis, Agricultural University of Athens, Department of Crop Production, Agricultural Experimentation and Laboratory of Plant Breeding – George Skarakis, Agricultural University of Athens, Department of Crop Production, Agricultural Experimentation and Laboratory of Plant Breeding

13:00 Laban, jameed, kishk, and more: yoghurt and yoghurt-based products in the Levant.
Carol Palmer, Ethnobotanist / Director of the British Institute in Amman, Jordan

13:20 Questions and answers

Lunch on your own

Session III Chair: Anaya Sarpaki

18:00 The Cretan diet on the edge of nutritional epidemiology since the 1950s. Are there more secrets to reveal?
Antonia-Leda Matalas, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens

18:20 Dietary Change in Crete.
Tourlouki Eleni, Public Health Nutritionist – Christos Lionis – Foteini Anastasiou- Evangelia Ladoukaki – Maria Antonopoulou – Ioanna Tsiligianni – Nikos Tsakountakis- Kornillia Makri – Demosthenes Panagiotakos

18: 40 The Cretan Diet and its Position of Nutritional Education in the Prevention of Childhood Obesity.
Joana Petraki, Dietitian / Nutritionist

19:00 Questions and answers

Pre-dinner drinks and beverages

20:45 Dinner Buffet for Registered Guests. The people of Karanou will bring food and recipes to share.

Sunday, July 17

9:00 Sunday morning trip to Omalos plateau.

Learn how to make staka, the traditional local butter.

Session IV Chair: Katerina Tzanakaki

17:20 The myth of Cretan cuisine in Anatolia.
Fusun Ertug, Ph.D Archaeologist / Ethnobotanist

17:40 The population exchange and Cretan cuisine are alive and well in Izmir.
Özlem Yaşayanlar, Translator/ food –blogger

18: 00 The relationship between the Cretan kitchen, food memories and identity – some observations from a Cretan food blogger.
Maria Verivaki, English teacher at MAICh / food blogger

18:20 The rizitiko music genre and Cretan nutrition (Rizitika as a fifth component of the Cretan diet).
Antonis Mavridakis, Psychiatrist – Psychotherapist

18:40 Questions and answers

Session V Chair: Jennifer Moody

19:00 The Cretan vineyard: one of the most ancient vineyards.
Antonis Dourakis, Owner of Dourakis Winery / President of the Winery Network in Chania-Rethymnon

19: 20 Transformations and reviews of the role of table wine on the modern Greek table.
Alexandros Sakkas, wine writer/ wine critic/ wine educator

19:40 A king from rags and patches.
Mary Frangaki, former TV producer; alternative tourism business owner.

20:00 Questions and answers

20:20 Jennifer Moody, Dr., Archaeologist, and Mariana Kavroulaki, independent researcher of the History of Greek Food and co-organizer of Symposium will conclude the work of the conference following the presentations, discussion of the papers and recommendations of those attending the conference.

21:00 Farewell dinner: From austerity to feast; Cretan cuisine tells its stories.

UPDATE: For a  peek at the topics being covered at the Symposium, please take a look at the  abstracts here.

ΓΙΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΕΔΩ

My favorite melopita (apple pie)…

…is actually a tart, very popular in urban areas of Chania (Crete) during the 1980’s.
It was never called a tart, though.

At that time there have been two major waves of foreign influence in Greek food: the French and the Italian one. To these must be added the significant Asian influence that affected restaurants in big cities and the profound American influence in the fast food area. That cultural and culinary blending was also the most striking feature of women’s magazine cookery columns.
However, the label kitsch should applied to this culinary pluralism. Mixtures of elements deriving from several cuisines and the use of crème fraîche became commonplace. Pasta, vegetables, meat, were buried under a mountain of crème fraîche, sweet and sour sauces for pork and chicken gained increasing popularity.

But
this recipe is for a very scrumptious tart.
Soft, slightly sour myzithra or fresh, buttery anthotyros replace the sharp cheddar cheese that is baked into the crust in the original recipe. Apple pie with cheese is common combination in parts of New England and the Midwest… some people grate it into the filling or bake it into the crust.

 

 

The Cretan twist

Crust

1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter

1/4 cup  icing sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg yolk

ice water

1 1/2 cup  flour

1/2 cup  myzithra or anthotyro or ricotta cheese

1/3 tsp grated lemon zest

 

Filling

6 apples with firm flesh (+-900 gr)

3 tbsp butter

1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar

1/2- 2/3 tbs ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

sugar

1 cup almonds, blanched and rough chopped

 

Stir together flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add butter and cheese and blend with your fingertips  until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolk, 4 tbsp ice water  and  stir  until incorporated. Add more ice water if needed; the dough must be soft and elastic.

Roll out dough and fit it into a tart plate. Trim edges.

Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 200 C degrees.

Peel and core apples. Cut them into 2 cm thick.

Stir together apples, sugar, butter, cinnamon, lemon zest.

Spoon filling into tart crust.

Sprinkle sugar on top and bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is tender.

 

 

ΓΙΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΕΔΩ.


Apple Pie

CRETAN CUISINE: HISTORY, EVOLUTION, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (?)

 

  1 st SYMPOSIUM OF GREEK GASTRONOMY

Karanou (Chania / Crete)
July 16-17, 2011

Founded and Organized by
Mariana Kavroulaki
in conjuction with the
Historical, Folkore and Archaeological Society of Crete (ILAEK)

CALL FOR PAPERS

Possibilities for papers include:

~ historical and social context of Cretan cuisine

~ how Cretan food is intertwined with economy and politics

~ Cretan food as a cultural process (flavors; Cretan food and pleasure; prohibitions and restrictions; dietary choices; food as symbol; Cretan food as indicator of identity; evolution of food habits, culinary traditions, eating codes etc.)

~ people, places and Cretan cuisine (trying new foods and new techniques; fashion; Cretan cuisine and immigration; Cretan diaspora on a plate; the myth of Cretan cuisine outside of Crete; relationship between local foodways, tourism and globalization

~ the evolution of a particular dish

~ changes in food production

~ Cretan cuisine as a commodity

~ misconceptions regarding Cretan diet

The symposium will cover all periods of Cretan history.

SUBMITTING ABSTRACTS FOR ORAL AND POSTER PRESENTATIONS

The title, an abstract of no more than 300 words ( in either Greek or English) together with a no more of 100-word biography of the speaker (in either Greek or English) should be submitted by 30 Μarch 2011 to mkavroulakis@gmail.com. In the e-mail subject please write “Symposium”.

Oral presentations will be 15 minutes long.

Both graduate and post graduate students in Anthropology, Archaeology, Ethnology, History, Philology and Sociology are strongly encouraged to attend the symposium and present their work in the form of a poster.
The title, an abstract of no more than 70 words ( in either Greek or English), together with a no more of 100-word bio (in either Greek or English) should be submitted by 30 Μarch 2011 to mkavroulakis@gmail.com. In the e-mail subject please write Symposium.

The symposium languages are Greek and English.

Papers presented at the symposium will be published.

 

Information for poster presentation

Each presenter is responsible  for preparing their posters with the title  and  name(s)    of  author(s).
Size of the poster: max. hight: 1,20 m, max. width: 0,80 m.
The title should be readable at a distance of 2 meters and text should be easily readable from a distance of 1 meter.
Area: lecture hall.
Set-up: July 15 (adhesive material will be provided).
Dismantling: Saturday, July 17, directly after the symposium.

REGISTRATION: All persons wishing to present an oral talk or a poster must complete a registration form and return it by March 1.

The symposium is open to the public, but registration for non-presenting attendees is required as well.

There is no charge for the symposium. Moreover, refreshments, snacks and two Cretan dinners are also provided at no charge.

Organizers of the symposium provide free accommodation in private homes of Karanou for the presenters of the symposium (free accommodation for 1 presenter of a poster or an oral presentation at the time of symposium). Those interested should e-mail mkavroulakis@gmail.com to arrange such shared housing. Free accommodation will be also arranged with local hotels.

The symposium program will be announced by April 15.

If you have any questions please contact Mariana Kavroulakis~ mkavroulakis@gmail.com, fax: 210 9021084, tel: 6979451484.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

CRETAN FOOD MARKETS

 

Ηeraklion

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Cretan cheese and yogurt are made with the milk of goat or/ and sheep. Cow milk is never used in their production.

 

 

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Jeladhia, a jelly made with the head and the feet of the pig used to be a popular New Year’s dish although today can be found all year round.  Cretans are also fond of rabbit.

 

 

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Apaki, a smoked delicacy since Byzantine times, is made with the meat around the pork’s kidneys.

Cut the meat into strips and leave them in wine vinegar for 4 days. Then cover them with a thin layer of salt. Sprinkle with black pepper.  Hung the strips above smoldering  olive embers or chestnut embers and aromatic herbs such as oregano (righani), sage, thyme, marjoran.  Smoke for a period of time. 

 

 

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 The Cretans also make use of the innards and intestines of sheep, lamb and goats. Stuffed intestines and innards wrapped with intestines are served to the most esteemed guests.

 

 

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 Kalitsounia, the small Cretan pies, are eaten  as a snack or a meze or a light meal or a dessert that comes before and after meal ; they can be round, semicircular, rectangular or triangular; they contain various savoury or sweet fillings and they are fried, oven baked or baked on  “satsi”, a domed metal piece that sits over the fire.

 

 

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 Lychnarakia (oil lamps) got their name from their shape.

Anevata kalitsounia (kalitsounia with yeast) are traditionally made in Sitia but you can find them in Heraklion as well.
2 k. flour
1 cup olive oil
3 +1 beaten eggs
1 2/3 normal sized glasses + 4 tbs sugar
160 gr baker’s yeast
3 glasses warm milk
2 k. anthotyros
4 tbs honey
¼ tsp mastic powder
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
sesame seeds

Dissolve the yeast in 2 glasses warm milk, add 2 tbs sugar and 2 cups flour to make a batter. Let it rise.

Put the oil in a bowl and mix it with the sugar, vanilla, mastic. Add 3 eggs and mix well. Add 1 glass of milk and the leaven. Mix very well. Add the remaining flour and knead until you have a soft, elastic dough.

Let it rise.

Mix anthotyros, 2 tbs sugar and 2 tbs honey.

Take small pieces of dough and roll them into 10 cm circles. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each circle. Fold the two opposite sides in towards the centre of each anevato kalitsouni, to make squares. Put the kalitsounia on baking sheet and let them to rise.

Brush them with beaten egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until slightly golden (15- 20 minutes, moderate oven)

   

 

 

 

 

Rethymno

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Bakery is the best place to research the diversity of Cretan pies and rusks.

If bread is for Greeks so essential that no meal can be conceived without it, Cretan rusk is a way of life.  Made with barley wholemeal flour or wheat or mixture of varying amounts of wheat, barley and oat flour, rusk was an  important element in the Cretan farming diet, when the needs of life did not allow the women to make bread every day. However, the making of rusks was also a labor – intensive process since the total amount should  feed the whole family for many weeks and careful double- baking was necessary.

The traditional rusks are very hard but can be dunked in water or be covered with grated fresh tomato and olive oil, turning into a softer taste sensation. 

Rusks are of various sizes and shapes: the ring  is known  as kouloura  or  koukouvayia (owl), the barley circle which is cut in half  is called dakos or ntakos.  Both are perfect for dipping in fish or meat soup. They are delicious  when wet under the tap for a few seconds, drizzled with olive oil from unripe olives (agourolado) and sprinkled with salt and Cretan oregano or topped with grated summer tomatoes, drizzled with virgin olive oil and topped with goat  myzithra cheese ( the traditional soft cheese from Chania). To give a final touch, black olives and oregano should be added. 

There are also lovely sweet or demi-sweet rusks made from wheat flour and flavored with coriander, anise, cinnamon,  sesame seeds, orange juice, grape juice, wine, almonds, currants etc.  

 

 

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 The Gasparis baker shop is in the centre of medieval town of Rethymno,  behind the Rimondi fountain. The baker keeps his door open and you can see how he makes rusks.

 

 

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A popular  spoon sweet, a liqueur and a refreshing soft drink is made from sour cherries.  

 

 

Chania

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The white meat of dusky grouper makes great soups, grilled dishes and stews.

Its head  is used in soups and stews as well. Baking it with okra is a great idea for a traditional Cretan meal .  

 

Dusky grouper’s head and okra

 For 1 kilo fish- head (cut in pieces) you need 1kilo okra, ½ cup olive oil, 2 cups grated fresh tomatoes, ½ cup chopped onions, ½ cup vinegar.

Wash the okra, cut off the stems, put them in a bowl and sprinkle them with vinegar. Leave them in the sun for 3 hours.

Salt the fish- head and place it in the middle of a baking pan. Mix the onion, tomatoes, salt and pepper with the okra. Place them around the fish-head. Add a little water and bake in moderate oven.

 

 

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  Sea urchin roe is the ultimate treat of sea.  It is eaten raw, as well as being added to pasta  and risotto. Sea urchins in  plasticyoghurt” pots are often available in  fish markets.

 

  

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Snails is a common dish in Crete since Minoan times. Cretan snails are very tasty because their food is based on the aromatic herbs of the island.
 
 

Sympetherio

½ k. snails

¾ k. aubergines, cut in small pieces

1 cup chondros (ground wheat) or xinochondros*

½ cup finely chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ½ cups ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the aubergines, onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and snails, season with salt and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in ½ cup of water and cook for 5 minutes. Add 2 – 2 ½ cups of water and bring to the boil. Add the chondros, season with salt and pepper and cook in low fire, stirring, until chondros cooked.

 

 

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One of the typical products of Lesvos is salted fish. Here you see the famous salt cured anchovies of Kalloni (Lesvos) .

 

 

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Typical products of Chania: olives, cheese, honey, rusks, raisin cakes. 

 

 

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One should never miss having coffee at the old Venetian harbour after arriving at Chania by boat early in the morning.

Then, one should never miss trying the famous Chaniotiki bougatsa. The feeling is awesome.

There are bougatses (plural of bougatsa) with several different fillings made all over Greece but contrary to Turkish poğaça which is a savory pastry made out of dough, Greek bougatsa is a sweet or savory pie made with a phyllo pastry, similar to börek. What exactly is a Chaniotiki bougatsa? Put it simply, it is a baked savory -sweet pie, a filling of local fresh cheese sandwiched between thin sheets of dough. It is served cut in small square pieces and is eaten with sugar and (optional) cinnamon.
Noumerous bougatsa shops  were located throughout the island until the large scale population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Most of them were held by Turkish or Moslem Cretans. On 1924 a Moslem Chaniotis sold his bougatsatsidiko (bougatsa shop) to Iordanis’ father in law. The seller also taught the buyer the art of making bougatsa. Soon Iordanis became a symbol of Chaniotiki gastronomy. Today, bougatsa Iordanis has three branches in Chania while Chaniotiki bougatsa is another well known brand name. The bougatsa shops sell bougatsa and nothing else, apart from greek coffee, nescafé, french coffee and soft drinks.

  

 Let us take a look at how chaniotiki bougatsa is made:

Anthony Bourdain visits Bougatsa Chanion

 

 

*Xinochondros: It is made with ground wheat (chondros) and sour sheep’s or goat’s milk. It is eaten fresh or dried in the sun or in the shade.

 

The next few posts will be automatically published to the site as I am going to take a short break from blogging. In the meantime I will not be able to visit your blogs or answer your comments.Thanks for your patience!

See you in a couple of weeks….

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BUTTER….

…. your own stakovoutyro, the famous sun-kissed butter from Chania (Crete).
It is not difficult if you have access to fresh milk from a goat. A mixture of fresh goat and sheep milk is also fine.
Then you have to skim the fat cream layer that forms on top of the milk and refrigerate it.
Once a sufficient quantity is collected leave it under the sun for 4-5 days. You will see butter starting to form, but you can get a lot more, if….

stakovoutyro

Woman making staka for a banquet

…if you place the  butterfat over low fire till melted, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Then gradually add barley or wheat flour while stirring (it is 1 1/2 -2 tbs flour per 1 k. butterfat). The proteins in the butterfat coagulate during warming and the flour assist them to form the staka, a type of roux that is not used as thickening agent though.
The fat part separates to form stakovoutyro, staka butter. Add a pinch of salt before removing from fire. Transfer the butter to a clean jar and keep refrigerated. A touch of it adds  flavor and richness in rice, pasta dishes and cookies. Rice- pilaf, one of the glories of Chania’s cookery, is stirred with hot stakovoutyro before serving.
Serve the staka while still warm, after you sprinkle it with lemon juice. Fresh sourdough bread goes perfect with it. If you will keep it in the fridge you can use it in cooking.
Another typically Cretan use of staka is in fried eggs. A walnut- sized piece of it make them a delicate pleasure.

 

Homemade Butter on Foodista

KARANOU…

 This place has stolen my heart.

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Karanou is the village where my father was born and lived until his twelfth birthday, and where my sister and I spent a part of our childhood’s and teenagehood’s summers….

When we were free spirits playing in the olive groves…..

 finding paths in the oak forest and sharing secrets with our friends.

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In this land nature amalgamates with the dream and memories and makes the village the sort of place that a child remembers for the rest of its life.

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Moreover this magic land is highly fertile: olive groves, chestnut trees, fruit trees, grapevines, wild herbs, wild greens, vegetables, legumes grow in great abundance. In past wheat and barley were cultivated as well. Thus wild green, vegetables, legumes, cereals, olive oil, snails, black and semi- black bread, rusks, goat milk and goat cheese and lots of fruits had been the central part of the daily diet of the inhabitants until the early 1990s. A little fish (often dried), meat on days of religious celebration, weddings and baptisms as well as on every Sunday, one or two glasses of wine with the food, were also included.

Unfortunately, this diet has been changed in the two last decades. Younger people eat frequently and in large amounts animal base products, they seem to have replace the moderate use of wine with lots of tsikoudia and beer and they get less and less exercice. The change has already affected their general state of health. Overweight, heart attacks, cancers are not uncommon among them, while the older people live up 100 years.

The photo here is of my grandparents’s house.

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Four are the characteristics of it: its age (it was built in 1876), its position (it sits on the top of a rocky hill and yes, the view is amazing), its ovens and the wine cellar.
Wine production for home consumption is a traditional activity in this area. This is the reason why wine cellars are a must-have for the houses. The wine is stored and aged in wooden barrels.

6cellar

Directly fired wood –ovens (made with bricks or clay) are very common in the mountainous and semi-mountainous villages of Chania. However, the house has one of the largest in the area: its diameter is about 2,10 m. The entrance is above a double fire – place which is used as a source of heat, for roasting or for cooking in special occasions.

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Both cooking fires are used simultaneously for the most ambitious of meals.

The second wood –oven is under the exterior ladder and has been built poorly, just in one day.

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Its baking capacity is for one 40 cm baking pan. Its construction is simple: flat bricks were used for the floor and an igloo -shaped basket (gr. kofini) was covered with 3 different mixtures of clay (a:clay, lime and straws, b: broken bricks and clay, c: mixed clay with lime). Three- four days later, a large fire was built in the oven to dry it and burn the basket. After that, it was ready to cook for the first time. None-the-less, it lasts a good 30 years.

The third oven is an electric one.

9oven3

It cooks fast and is also necessary when the weather is windy and there is danger of fire. I think it’s an italian patent. It allows for some pleasures like small pies, stuffed vegetables, baked poultry or meatballs on a bed of sliced potatoes and zucchinis.
For the meatballs I used 800 gr minced meat (200 gr lamb, 300 gr pork, 300 gr beef), 250 gr stale bread, soaked in water and perfectly squeezed, 1 large onion finely chopped, ½ cup chopped tomato, 1 tbs red vinegar, salt and pepper.
The nature really offers a wide array of perfect options for flavoring: thymbre, thyme, oregano, fennel.
I chose to add leaves and flowers of fresh thyme.

wild-thyme

making-biftekia

 I dipped one of my hands in red wine while shaping the meatballs.

biftekia

baking-bifteks

The aroma was fantastic!

working

And this is my shelter next to the front yard, made from the branches of two tall and strong turpentine trees (Pistacia Terebinthus). Under these trees I played many of my childhood’s games.

talking

Their shade is perfect for morning coffee, writing and reading or spending relaxed time with family and friends.
By the way, the nuts of turpentines are almost ready for harvest.

dramithia

If they are roasted, they can be used in village bread.

Wild blackberies are almost ripen…

wild-grapes

 oregano is almost dried…

oregano

 but we patiently wait to have walnuts,

nut

 chestnuts…

chestnut

 and quinces….

quince

 in late September.

PANIGHIRI.2

On 26th of July, there was the religious feast (panighiri) of Aghia Paraskevi, the patron Saint of the eyes, in the village Karano (Crete). As usual, panighiri started in the morning with a church service and  ended just before noon.

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A meal with enjoyable food followed the Liturgy: free range chicken cooked with olive oil, lemon juice and flavored with oregano, boiled goat, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves and  zucchini flowers), meat balls, a sort of kebab, a wide range of kalitsounia, the small cretan pies (2 types of kalitsounia with local cheese, 3 types of  kalitsounia with  greens etc.) , tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkled with salt and pepper, black olives, dried broad beans soaked in water, homemade bread ….

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…and for dessert, mellow and nutty graviera cheese topped with excellent honey.

 

Scenes from a panighiri.

WHEN ALL OFFALS WERE THOUGHT EDIBLE. 1

butcher

The postcard butcher of 1960s proudly displays the tongue and the brain of an ox head.

Brain

Animal’s brain was considered a delicacy by most ancient Greeks and Romans. Aristotle wrote about it and Galen refers to its dietary qualities. Brain was an important ingredient of rodonia lopas, (rose casserole) that had been prepared by a fictional Roman cook of Atheneaus. On the other hand, the Greek mathematician Pythagoras could not accept the idea of consuming animal brain. It was the same as eating the heads of one’s parents, he said.          Until recently lamb’s and pig’s brain was eaten as part of split or baked head. Ox brain was eaten fried, cooked or boiled… the boiled one was considered good food for sick people. Though after 70ies brain lost its popularity, still remained one of the meals that people occasionally served… The oubreak of mad cow disease in Europe restricted its consumption.

FRIED BRAINS

”Wash the brains, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes and remove the membrane. Wash again and put them in a pan. Cover with water, add salt and vinegar (2 tbs per brain) and boil for 20 minutes. Lift out the brains and when cold, cut in pieces. Dip into flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Brush the pieces with egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Fry them in hot butter for 2-3 minutes and drain on paper. Serve them with mashed potatoes.”  (Kat. Providaki’s cooking notes)

 

…and tongue.

In ancient Greece the tongues of the sacrificed animals were reserved for the Gods. Tongues were the special offering to Hermes, the interpreter and messenger of Olympian gods and god of eloquence and commerce. Considering that he was also god of boundaries and travelers, it is not suprising that those leaving banquets used to pour libations to Hermes over the tongues (Athenaeus).          The tongue is one of the cheaper part of animal which can be cooked in various ways or be preserved. During the last decades is not a hot home cooking trend but you can pay a lot for it at a gourmet restaurant.

OX TONGUE COOKED IN WINE & VINEGAR (Hania /Crete)

ox tongue, 1 kg

3 medium onions, diced

2 tbs olive oil

1 teacup vinegar

1 teacup red wine

1 bay leaf

a little cumin

salt

peppercorns

Wash the tongue thoroughly. Soak for 2 hours and put in a deep stew pan.
Cover with cold water, heat to boiling point, then drain.
Return it to the pan and cover with fresh cold water.
Heat to boil, cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Lift out the tongue and plunge it into cold water.

Drain and remove the small bones at the root and the skin, carefully.
Cut the tongue in large pieces.

Place it in the pan without water, with the rest of ingredients. Put the lid over the pan air tight, or paste it round with dough. Simmer it for about 1 hour. The fire must be moderate, or the tongue may burn. Cut each piece into slices and serve.