Back to school at the start of the academic year, Ella reminisces on a memorable meal overlooking the Aegean during the summer holidays and the joy of Greek cooking.
Commencing the longest school term of the year has brought me to reminisce on a recent week during the summer holiday spent sailing around Greece. One evening remains clear in my mind as the most captivating example of how a recipe can have so much significance to an island’s history.
Seated with the waves of the Aegean sea at the head of each table, we watched an elderly gentleman and owner of this restaurant’s eyes shine with fervency as he began to describe his chef’s special — a secret family recipe — marinated goat and rice-stuffed vine leaves in a delicate lemon sauce. Through eyes growing smaller with smiles and cupping weathered hands whilst naming the ingredients, to counting off on fingers and spontaneous kitchen runs to collect flavours for us to smell and taste, he brought to life the way he had been taught to cook, and with this, the way he had taught two generations of chefs after him to cook.
Seeing a man overflowing with passion and a need to share was an event in itself, filling our lungs with silence and hearts with admiration. Food is a story to be passed from one weathered hand to the next, on battered paper or through word of mouth to be enjoyed and explored by all without boundaries or exclusion. Because a true love of food can’t grow desolate with time.