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 thinkers – 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 and …

fanouropita

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 …