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Friday, June 9, 2017

On the Road to Perdika

Greece is filled with summertime cantinas that could easily be passed by without a second thought, but this one, called Kantina Meeting, had caught our eye as we drove from the beach up to the village of Perdika, which lies between Parga and Syvota.

There was something about it . . . the detail in its structure that bespoke a clever creativeness begging to be investigated. We had to stop. And we hoped to meet the artist of such a creation.

As it turned out, the proprietor was Thanasis, a Greek who had returned to live in Perdika with his English-speaking wife. And this is how we met the very talented pastry chef, Katie, of Katie's Cakes.

She and Thanasis have 3 sons and have lived in Perdika since 2002. Before that, they lived in Corfu which is where they met. Katie's cakes are worth the trip to Perdika. In fact, after having tasted her delicious handiwork on one coffee stop after the beach, we made the trip back to Perdika just for a birthday cake which we brought all the way to Filiates where the celebration was taking place.

I find Katie especially interesting because she is a foreign "nifi" (daughter-in-law), a non-Greek married to a Greek which is something that comes with an entire village regardless of where the married couple decides to settle. And a foreign-nifi is profoundly different from a woman whose parents are Greek and comes back to Greece, leaving from the country in which she's been raised (Australia, Canada, the U.S.).  No, a foreign nifi is a Different-Language-Speaking woman who never dreamed she'd marry a Greek, who only thought of Greece as an idyllic vacation place, who expected a white picket fence and fine manicured lawn with a man from her own country.

I can relate.

But I've never had the courage as Katie has, to make Greece my permanent home, though I think I can say, I wish I had . . . but maybe I say that only because I hadn't.  My hat goes off to this courageous and talented woman.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Katie and below is the result.

Hi Katie, Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell me how you learned to bake so well? Culinary school?
Thank you for inviting me, Linda. Well, originally I learned to bake from my gran who, armed with the Kenwood chef, would always be baking up a storm for our visits. Then at college, in a general catering course, I learned a few techniques. Later, I was lucky enough to work with a Greek pastry chef on Corfu. The skills I learned from that person, put me in a different world of baking entirely.

How did you end up in Corfu?
I'm originally from Hampshire, England. After college, I applied for several positions through a magazine called The Lady. It was a publication that had job opportunities within the U.K. or abroad. I had applied for a position on Corfu but my application took some time to be approved and the Corfu opportunity was taken. So, instead I went to France. When that position ended, I came back to England and shortly after, received a telegram asking me to come to Corfu. So I went!

How did you meet your husband, Thanasis?
I met Thanasis in Kommeno Village, on Corfu. I was working as a cook/housekeeper in an Irish/Greek owned villa. Thanasis was working in Astir Palace Hotel, just down the road. I used to go swimming over there and he would try to talk to me. After ignoring him for two weeks, I finally gave in to his offer of a ride up the hill on his big black motorbike, and well . . . the rest is history!

It sounds like he is persistent, a good quality, in my opinion. Why did you leave Corfu and go to Perdika?
At the time we decided to leave Corfu, we only had two children. We wanted them to grow up in an environment that gave them more freedom, and we wanted to be closer to Thanasis' mom. After we moved to Perdika, we had our third son.

The beginning of marriage is not easy under any circumstances, but when the in-laws have a different language, as well as different culture and traditions it must be a bit more challenging. Add to that small-village life and I wonder how it was for you in the beginning of your Perdika days.
I got off pretty lightly in my first years of marriage because we were on Corfu. As you've said, when you come back to the village things become a bit more intense. Having been independent when making decisions for the boys, I found it difficult to have people correcting my actions all the time. I was very frustrated in those days. As you know, the word "prepi" (πρεπει) means "you must" or "you have to." That word still has the power to send chills up my spine.  Also, back then many of the village women came to visit or to "advise" me. My boys called them "the scary ladies." Haha. But they just wanted to help me and insure my British child rearing did not damage these young Greeks. However, it just served to make me paranoid about everything from my faulty Greek language to my housewife skills, which seemed to be often evaluated. Now that my boys are getting older, I'm starting to wonder how it might be to have a nifi and I wonder what kind of mother-in-law I'll be.

If it's any consolation, I think your experience as a young mother living near in-laws is a universal one. However, your baking talent puts you on a different plane. I think any nifi would be honored to learn from you. I personally prefer the "eating" portion of baking and look forward to my next visit to Kantina Meeting.
Thank you Linda. We look forward to seeing you again.



Among the Zinnias, The Nifi, and Your Own Kind are available in ebook and paperback. And they're free if you have Kindle Unlimited. I hope you will give one of them a try!


Independent authors often have quite a challenge in getting exposure for their work. I hope, dear reader, you will consider writing a review on Amazon or Goodreads.com.

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