Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cooking on the Greek Countryside

Cooking is an event in Greece. Nowadays it's done in the kitchen while barbecuing, for the most part, is in the yard on a grill or power-run spit. But back in the 1980s, when I first came to Margariti, a small village in Epirus Greece, life was as it had been for hundreds of years and cooking was an all day job.

The fourno is the cement oven where Chevi, as well as all the other women in the village, began their day. It was stuffed with the wood they'd spend hours collecting. The wood burned until it became hard black cooking-coals, which is when Chevi would carefully distribute them inside the domed fourno, so as to create the perfect baking temperature. Then, she'd slide in her pitas (pita means pie in Greek).

Her husband, Toma, built the structure around the fourno to protect her from the sun and the rain. Notice the green shutters on the back wall. Did that giant gaping whole really need a window?
Sometimes the fourno would be used to cook a lamb but most times, the lamb would be hand-turned over a fire that had been set in the yard hours before--adding to the heat of the day--and once again slow-burning coals would be used for cooking as volunteers slowly turned the spit.

Preparing a meal was a time consuming task simply because of the wait-time needed for either method to "heat up" and Chevi welcomed the addition of a gas range when her children built her a kitchen after indoor plumbing came to the village in the mid 1980s.
I have to admit, though, I've never been much help with preparing a meal. My talent is mostly recognized when it comes time to eat.

Both stories have a sweet Greek flavor!

No comments:

Post a Comment