CULTURAL FEASTS: Greek Easter Memories

12799449_610341405786504_7660923367016412639_n-2
Photography by Amelia Grose

So let’s be honest, everyone loves a Greek celebration and if you can sneak into your Greek neighbour’s backyard, you would!

Reality is the aromas wafting into your neighbour’s home is a sure way to get them wondering what on earth is happening down your end of the street.

And that’s exactly what happened during Greek Easter last month. We had the neighbours peeking over the fence and hanging over their patios just to get a glimpse into what was over the fire so early in the morning.

Well, without hesitation, that yearly aroma of a lamb on a spit sure did it’s magic and as the wood infused smoke drifted into my home, bending around the corners and finding its way into my bedroom, it took no effort to lift me off my crispy white sheets and transport me into my kitchen.

We’d actually been cooking for days – that’s what you do when you are preparing for a large group of guests. Days ahead the house is cleaned (not sure why when all the cooking that goes on trashes the shiny clean floors), the kitchen benches are covered in a colourful array of assorted ingredients and the music is blasting – well it used to be until Florence came on the scene and we needed to be quiet so she would take her naps.

Florence is my 5 month old grand-daughter who I am besotted with and cannot wait to waste the hours away on my kitchen bench rolling out dough or cutting up eggplant for moussaka with her.

I loved teaching my own girls how to cook, spending hours in the kitchen making apple pies, crumbed chicken nuggets and a good spaghetti bolognese. I always remember going to a fellow Greek's home to bake together; my eldest did not enjoy it one bit as my friend was quite pedantic about measuring everything and having everything look perfectly the same; and then you had me on the other hand that is quite free and rustic with her cooking and adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that, was what my daughters grew up with.

But since setting on the journey of producing my very own cookbook, I realised I did need to be exact for my readers. Recipes have been chosen and testing has been happening and even photos have been taken. It’s very exciting to be on this pathway and I cannot wait to share my book with you. There will be more about this project in the months ahead.

So back to that little lamb on the spit. It took around 5 hours to roast over the wood-fire and our neighbours did join us – and I am so glad they did. Greek Easter is not only about your family but it is also about your neighbours, your friends and even the stranger. What I have learnt about my culture is that everyone is welcome and everyone is included. We share our food, we share our friendship and we share our hearts. It’s such a great way to live and I wouldn’t want it any other way. So to you my reader - welcome to my home and I hope you enjoy the stories, the recipes and everything else in between.

Here’s a simple recipe but a much loved one!

Saganaki (Fried Halloumi Cheese)

Serves 4
Ingredients
250g block halloumi cheese
½ cup plain flour
1 cup water
¼ cup olive oil
½ lemon
½ teaspoon dried herbs
olive oil, extra
Method
Cut halloumi into 1cm thick slices.
Lightly wet with water and coat with flour.
In a shallow fry pan, heat oil and lay halloumi flat in pan and cook for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown.
When cooked on both sides, squeeze a little lemon on top, sprinkle with a pinch of dried herbs and a drizzle of extra olive oil. Serve immediately.