All posts filed under: stories

happy easter

The bad conscience of a meat eater

Seht ihn! – Wie? – als wie ein Lamm. (Behold Him! – How? – As a Lamb.) -BWV 244 ,’Matthäus-Passion’ On Easter Sunday Greeks roast a lamb. That is, a whole lamb is skewered on a spit and roasted over charcoal. The spit usually pierces the scull of the animal or appears though the teeth, next to the prolonged tongue, in pure gore fashion.  Family and friends gather around the spectacle and celebrate Easter, preferably in gardens and yards in the countryside, among poppies, chamomile and daisies. Jesus is associated with the innocent lamb, scarified during Easter. What perverse association established the custom of lamb eating on that very day I do not know. Perhaps a suppressed kurgan inclination managed to resurface in the most sacred of celebrations to mock the orderly Christians, betting on the carnivore within. Or, even more bizarre, it has to do with something much more sinister and ancient: cannibalism. We have not completely lost the association to the living young lambs, sweet and innocent, recipients of our affection. Nevertheless we eat them, teaching …

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 …

olive harvest

Olive oil and the Salt of the Earth

A family member is an olive oil zealot. She keeps an olive grove and produces small quantities of olive oil to perfection. She has a mastery over the process from beginning to end and makes no consents to comfort. She spares no cost and redeems all favours during harvest in November. For these few days she turns from the easy-going and agreeable person she is to a warden of iron feast – and that we can attest. This year even our toddler picked his first olives, to his great delight and everybody else’s. But the result is proportional to the determination. After same day harvest and pressing the zealot turns modest, but with the content of the old master who knows that her work cannot be bettered. For those of you who (like me in the past) have not tasted fresh cold pressed olive oil of the best quality, let it be known that the distance from the stuff you get even in the good delis is similar to that of an ok wine to a French …

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

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 …