Cooking my way through Greece !
Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
147Trip End Jan 05, 2012
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At 10am a guy in his early 50’s arrived in the Reception area to drive me to my cooking course and whilst he has little English language he obliged when I started taking pictures out of the window of his car, by pulling over to ensure a steady result. The Greek language (for me) is difficult to grasp however right at that point I wished I could express more than my skills allowed because I feel so inadequate. Greek to me sounds very much like the Turkish language and that is a possibility due to the close geographical location of the two countries. We arrive at another hotel and pick up a Lithuanian man who is also participating in the course that day. His English is basic however his comprehension is quite good so my prediction is the day will be ‘marvelous’ with the two of us working alongside Zoe and Rafaela.
The restaurant is GORGEOUS with an amazing kitchen right in the eating area. The setting lends itself well to a teaching environment and Zoe’s English skills are excellent, we find it not difficult at all to follow her instruction. There was also a kitchen out the back where washing up and preparations were completed, but we stand in the main area and are formally introduced to the most beautiful woman (40ish) and her equally ‘stunning’ daughter Rafaela who at 14 years old stands 6ft tall, has the most gorgeous long, thick and flowing dark hair that compliments her Grecian smouldering looks which support her appearing in her 20’s rather than teens. She assists her mother with teaching and preparation and so began four hours of the BEST cooking class attended thus far. A fantastic family affair with the best fresh produce picked daily from the family Vegetable garden which is just around the corner from the Restaurant all members of the family support the growing of fresh crops by working in the garden on a regular basis
The dishes made were mousaka, a vegetable dish using large green beans, a meat stew, Tszitski, wine leaves , stuffed peppers, meat balls and the most DIVINE dessert made with Filo pastry and vanilla cream filling. Each and every dish was WONDERFUL and Zoe and I got along so well due to our similar ages and having children around the same ages. We had a lot of ‘chat breaks’ that morning in between stirring, chopping and preparing of the food. We began the day with a coffee and a traditional biscuit and for morning tea when enjoyed another traditional accompaniment the ‘cheese pie’ (Yes I ate them) Tiny pastry parcel’s containing the ‘old’ goats cheese that was now no longer fresh enough to eat straight from the fridge. The parcels were quickly cooked then honey drizzled over them ensuring that the hot sweet dessert just melted in your mouth!
Just as we sat to eat the tasty morsels a little old Greek woman poked her head around the corner of the open fronted restaurant and said something very quickly. Rafael, Zoe and her husband all turned to acknowledge her with enthusiastic chatter and smiles
We complete the final two dishes of the morning after the unexpected visit and before 2pm we had the dining table set for five people. We would all eat together (as a family) and I was really pleased that this cooking day had such a PERSONAL feel, I had thoroughly enjoyed that. The food, each and every dish, was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!! I at Mousaka (with cheese that didn’t worry me at all). My favourite dish (but I loved them all) was the meat balls OH MY !!! and of course the Filo pastry with vanilla cream filling (and lemon glaze) completed the meal magnificently. I am so pleased that Zoe typed out the recipes for us because I cant wait to get into a kitchen and try them out for myself
I so enjoyed the day I wanted it never to end and even considered going back again to attempt another course of recipes. I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore and the Zoe packed me another ‘doggy’ bag to take home. (I enjoyed Lovely REAL Greek cuisine for 3 days after that). The 50 Euro’s I paid for the day was excellent value and as I left Zoe and I hugged and I thanked her profusely – not only form her sharing her family cooking recipes and secrets so openly but also for embracing us in a true ‘family’ day with all that ensures its success. Zoe commented how much she would miss me and I wondered why this was so. She explained that her days were very often alike, she worked in the kitchen – all alone – most days until customers came in for the lunch or dinner rush. I then saw a correlation between a few different women whom I have been most fortunate to meet on my trip. Nezha (in Morocco) and Zoe here in Crete both craved the company of age appropriate females, however due to their ‘life styles’ and ‘responsibilities’ to their families this was sadly lacking in their lives. I realized then that my own life had at times been similar
Zoe’s husband kindly drove me home to my hotel again and pulling over to allow me time to take photos of the gorgeous sun setting scenery along the way I found we conversed more easily than we had on the way TO the Restaurant. Once again my life had been touched by such kindness and generosity, their homes and lives opened to allow me a glimpse (no matter how briefly) as they live their lives and once again I thanked my lucky stars for ALL that I have in my life !