Author: thefoodinterpreter

Waiting for Santa

The Greek Santa visits on new years’ eve. He is Saint Basil, and comes from Anatolia. He was a major theologian of the eastern church, who excelled in the ‘nature of beings’, still ‘living among us, as he talks through the books’. He is very byzantine, and we have a description of his looks: “As of the character of his body he was long. Dry and lean, dark and yellow in colour of the face, long nose, cheeks and beard. His face was wrinkled and with some scars. He looked like someone who thinks”. He had an elder sister (one of the few early Christian women theologians – Basil recorded a discussion with her ‘on the nature of the soul’) and a theologian-philosopher younger brother. One of his fellow students during his years in Athens was Julian the Apostate, the last pagan roman emperor. I prefer this austere Santa to the chubby guy on the slate (Tim’s Burton version excluded). He doesn’t smile and was probably not very agreeable, but he is closer to our hearts …


Lost and found: vegan olive oil cake

Did you loose your car keys or partner? Did your boss fire you? Are you a shadow puppeteer and business is not going well? No worries – just prepare this cake with seven or nine ingredients, take it to church, divide it to forty pieces and give it away. It is a ‘Fanouropita’, in honour of Saint Fanourios, a martyr that was rediscovered in the 14th century, when an ikon was dug up while fortifying the walls of Rhodes. The local bishop Nilos (Nile) interpreted the icon and concluded that it depicted the passions of a forgotten martyr. So the cult of Saint Fanourios started. The Saint’s name sounds like ‘reveal’, and people started praying to him to ‘reveal’ lost items, persons or jobs. As to why he became the patron saint of the shadow puppeteers, no one knows. Perhaps it has something to do with the odd number ( 7, 9 or 11)  of ingredients required to prepare the cake – or the words that have to be spoken while baking it. In any case it …

Ethics come at a price

This is a site based on ethics. After three attempts the Other Food Interpreter decided not to post the recipe for the honey-glazed lamb, because the cooking times were not quite right -according to her opinion, according to mine it was just right. I can testify that I cannot – will not eat any more lamb for the next month -ethics come at a price! Besides cooking lamb this weekend we visited the circus (it’s obvious why clowns feature in horror movies), had a very good grouper in a taverna by the sea and somehow prematurely considered water sports for our toddler. And read another chapter of Andrea Wulf’s great book about Alexander von Humboldt.       Mr Spock examines life forms

Greek Mess, in a good sense

This is not Eton Mess – it is Greek Mess in a good sense. Eton Mess is probably more relevant right now, but a Greek Mess is always possible. It is the Mediterranean summer now, and it is hotter than usual. This means that it is a good idea to have something light and cold for lunch. Our favourite is greek low fat (2%) yogurt with fruit. You can combine any fruit you want, but our combination for this summer is peach and blueberries. They have to be very cold and of the best quality, of course. Serves 1 200g low fat (2%) strained greek yogurt 1 peach, cubed 10 blueberries Place all the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

Zante beef, Sunday’s lunch.

The recipe comes from a lady called Rubina (Ruby). She was an old family acquaintance and lived in a house with echoing acoustics and a garden full of roses. She was from Zante and spent her married life in Athens. Her family was the best-off in the street and she was respected by the neighbours because of her charities during the war. She passed this recipe to my grandmother who passed it to my mother and found its place in the Sunday lunch repertoire when I was a kid. It still is cooked when we visit the grandparents in their house with a garden full of hydrangeas and jasmines. For the Zante Beef Serves 6 1 cup olive oil 1,5kg good-quality stewing beef, cut into 3cm cubes 150ml mavrodaphne, a sweet dark red wine from Patras 75ml red wine vinegar 3 allspice berries 10 black peppercorns 1 cinnamon stick 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 800g very ripe fresh tomatoes (or canned if not in season), peeled 1 tsp brown sugar 1/2kg pecorino cheese, cut into 2cm cubes …

Stereotypes and tyrokafteri

What can I say.. there is truth in the stereotypes. Lunch in the countryside, with friends and children running around. We spent the weekend in a house with garden, and had visitors for lunch on Saturday. To be honest they brought most of the food. We just prepared the tyrokafteri (a spicy feta cheese spread) with feta from Stratoula, a local producer, originally from Epirus who ended up in Anavyssos (both very good credentials for a feta producer!), and small chillies from the garden. We had every good intention to prepare also a horiatiki salad with watermelon (the first of the season that we bought in the local open market), but we skipped it and had it the following day for dinner. (Stay tunned, the recipe will follow soon…) On Sunday we strolled in Lavrio, a small port with a very long mining history. We had ouzo and the typical mezes’ that go with it: octapus, marinated anchovies (gavros), fried red mullets (koutsomoures),grilled sardines and some delicious boiled greens (almyra). We gave the establishment an 8 out of …

Not all recipes are a success

Not all recipes we try for the blog succeed. Some might seem a good idea for a post, but after  repeated tries we might declare defeat, to much regret of the other food interpreter. The spectrum of abandoned recipes ranges from the disgusting  to the blunt. The disgusting are an obvious choice to drop- but the blunt? We always feel that we did something not  quite right – perhaps next time we will change the measures a little and it will succeed. Fact is, you know quite early if the recipe has a chance or not. Of course we end up eating the blunt; at least the ingredients are of a good quality, and we have a topic to discuss over dinner. And then there are the photos. We end up with a stock of photos we like for recipes we do not (the opposite is also often the case). Uploading the finished dish will not do – but why not the tomatoes, onions, eggs and peppers?

Where lemons grow

“Do you know the land where the lemon-trees grow, In darkened leaves the gold-oranges glow, A soft wind blows from the pure blue sky, The myrtle stands mute, and the bay tree high? Do you know it well? It’s there I’d be gone, To be there with you, O, my beloved one!” I know of a German girl who dreamed of the south because of those verses of Goethe, as her father read them to put her to sleep. “The land where lemons grow” is also the title of a book of Helena Attlee about citrus crops in Italy. It opens up a fascinating historical, cultural and economic perspective of Italy, and once you read it, it becomes an essential travel companion in the citrus producing areas of the country. The truth is that in the Mediterranean we take the citrus trees (lemons, oranges, mandarins, sour oranges, grapefruits or citruses) for given. The road in front of our door is lined up with sour oranges (that fill the air in spring with their unmistakable scent, covering …