On the way to Terra Madre 2010 I stopped over in Jordan in the middle east. I was overjoyed to see so may religions living in one country in harmony and with the greatest respect for each other. The food was amazing and I was thrilled to see many Greek archeological sites and Byzantine churches. There were many places in Jordan I did not get time to visit and will do so on my next trip to Greece.
I then popped over to Greece to visit the family, to relive childhood memories and to eat lots of Greek food.
My trip began in Athens where the Parthenon stands tall on top of the Acropolis. I am still overcome with emotion whenever I look up at this marvel. My mornings always begin with a walk to the Athens central markets on Athinas street. This is where you will find everything you need to cook your masterpieces.
I love the energy of these markets. I love the buzzing noises of people shuffling by and the vendors calling out their stories with passion of why you should buy from their store. There is always a story to be shared here of how to best cook with a certain ingredient. I find great inspiration here to write new and old recipes. This is a must experience for any traveler to Greece. I dearly miss my morning walks to the markets followed by my morning Greek coffee in Plaka overlooking the Parthenon. There were many small restaurants to visit in the back street of central Athens and off course the lively and happening area of Gazi.
My next stop in Greece was Chios. Chios grows my favourite and most treasured ingredient; masticha. I always stay on the water by the port. I do not want to miss seeing the boats and fisherman coming in with their catch, the sun rising over the ocean from my balcony and the early morning church bells. I spent my days eating my favourite local ingredients – food cooked with masticha, mandarin juice, mastello cheese, masticha ouzo, the local yoghurt with thick creamy crust on top that you would not find in Australia, the local breads baked with local wood, kakavia made with the daily fisherman’s catch and the list goes on.
I then popped over to Psara; the island where I spent many of childhood years. It was peaceful as always. The beaches deserted with not a person in sight. I could see the occasional wild rabbit or goat that came to inquire who I was and to say hello. There was an abundance of sea urchin waiting to be picked by locals. A wonderful environment to write new stories and tell Ancient ones – perhaps the sea might whisper some in my ear.
On my first day in Psara my uncle went fishing and cooked me Kakavia and BBQ’d some of the fish he caught. It just cannot get any better or fresher than this. My auntie Despina unfortunately cannot see so my uncle does all the cooking. I love helping him cook whenever I am there. A discussion of what to cook the next day is always on our agenda just before siesta time at lunch. I had many long walks around the island connecting with nature and the universe. There are many varieties of wild greens, mushrooms, snails, wild herbs etc to pick along the way and to cook with. I miss my adventurous ingredient hunting walks. Late afternoons were spent down at the port watching fishermen catch octopus with a fishing line. I would always ask them how they were going to cook the octopus and we would exchange recipes.
My last stop was Kalamata, my mother’s hometown. The first thing I always do is stock up my fridge with sfela cheese, the local loukaniko and the local meat pasto. Off course this is accompanied with the lalagia. This is a must. Every morning is spent at Athanasiou the best pastry shop in Greece. A Greek must always begin their day with a shot of Greek coffee and if you are me some ekmek kataifi or a local wild green pie or spanakopita. Most of my day was spent walking the local markets, speaking to the locals about what they were cooking that day and off course day dreaming and writing by the beach. A daily visit to the Ypapanti and Agii Apostoli to say a prayer and light a candle was also on the itinerary. I was also fortunate to have a room by the beach and to be accompanied each night by the soothing wave sounds and nature. I have some pictures below from my travels and hope they transport you back to Greece as they do with me whenever I look at them.