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THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2011
Celebrating the Foods of Many Greek Kitchens
B y M aria a. K araMitsos CHICAGO—Tessa Kiros, author of seven cookbooks, including “Twelve” and “Falling Cloudberries,” honors her Greek roots with a new book, entitled “Food from Many Greek Kitchens.” Born in London to a Greek-Cypriot father and Finnish mother, she spent her formative years in South Africa. She grew up in a large Greek community. “I was baptized Greek Orthodox, but raised with a mixture of traditions from both sides. We fasted, went to church. We always had lamb and red eggs and all of that, but also celebrated Finnish customs. Food was a big part of our lives.” Tessa attended a Greek high school. “We studied Greek. There was Greek culture, Greek plays. We would go to the Greek Club on Sundays, sometimes to the Cypriot Club too.” At 18, Tessa began her travels around the globe. Her adventures took her to a Kibbutz in Israel, to Australia, London, even Mexico. Less than a decade later, she’d find her destiny in Italy. Growing up with a rich culinary tradition, it’s natural to have an affinity for the gastronomic arts. “As I traveled more, met people, went to markets, watched grandmothers and people I stayed with cook, it really brought it to life for me,” the author stated. “Cooking tells a lot about a people: why, where, what the land gives them, what they create with it. It’s also tied to religion. It really interests me. I love to see how grandmothers do it and pass it down - the character in the character.” She’s had no formal training. “When I was waitressing in London, I was so influenced by Chef Angela Dwyer. She invited me to work in the kitchen and I did.” Following her adventures in other countries, something compelled her to go to Italy. “I wanted to study food, learn the language. I thought I’d stay a few months, but I’m still here.” Not long after she arrived in Tuscany, while working in a restaurant, she met her husband Giovanni. “He came every day for lunch. I spoke no Italian, he spoke no English. It was really very sweet. If I hadn’t met him, I wouldn’t have stayed. I’d have kept moving.” They have two daughters, ages 13 and 11. About 10 years ago, Tessa began to write. “I didn’t plan to write the first cookbook. It just happened.” She began to compile Tuscan recipes and learn techniques used in the region. It was originally intended for her own experience, but then she realized its potential. She tried unsuccessfully to get it published, therefore, she self-published “Twelve,” which is a 12-month journey through Tuscan cuisine, utilizing seasonal ingredients and methods passed down through the generations. Attending a book fair in Frankfurt, Germany changed everything. “I met Murdoch (Books), who bought it and published it.” Cooking is a family event, and the children are involved. “We have an open kitchen. I love this. I’m not stuck in a room on my own. The table is in the front, so people can sit. When I test recipes, people are involved and they can taste.” They spend considerable time working in their vegetable garden. “We don’t eat junk food. We eat lots of vegetables, salads. Whatever’s in season, that’s what’s in the house. I always have fresh herbs, good olive oil, good wine, fresh parmesan.” Tessa insists on “fresh and organic whenever possible.” There’s much about Italy that has captivated and inspired her. “I love the aesthetics. When I arrived here, I was taken by the buildings, the lands. There’s constancy to everything; it’s not a haphazard mix and match. There’s a harmony here in everything, including architecture, art, ingredients. They do things well. You can walk into any bar and get a decent cappuccino; however, you can’t go have a great Vietnamese meal,” she shared. Some ingredients are hard to get, which can limit the cooking of certain other ethnic foods, but “this is such a beautiful place.” Tessa derives inspiration from many sources. “There’s inspiration everywhere. One thing from someone - like the grandmothers I met in Mexico could last forever. I always feel new inspiration.” She’s amassed quite a collection of cookbooks and loves to experiment. First-andforemost a mother and a writer second, Tessa writes whenever Taramokeftedes. See recipe below. she can. “When everyone wakes coming. With everything going on up, they have to eat. I try to be right now, it’s nice to give back clever in what I make to satisfy something positive to a nation.” everything at the same time. SomeThere is something extraordihow it all works. I involve the nary about the Greek kitchen, the family. When I travel for work, foods produced there. “It’s in the context in which they are served. They are big dishes. It’s the ease of the people, the sharing. It’s not fussy. Put it on a plate and get it to the table. There’s less importance on flowers or stripes on a plate. It’s about the food and the people.” Tessa captures the essence of Greece and Greek cuisine. The amazing photography is from authentic Greek homes and settings, transporting the reader there, evoking fond memories; you might envision your yiayia there. Thoughtful stories and explanations accompany the recipes and bring traditions to life. You’ll note, the recipes list few ingredients; the food and flavors are the real stars. Tessa Kiros Instructions are easy to follow. when I research, we’re together.” “In Greece, as in Italy,” at mealShe’s written cookbooks about times, families come together and Venice and Portugal, plus children memories are made. Meals are an and families. “I really enjoy it. It’s event. There’s a ritual and everyone’s a great way to use my creativity. It involved. Everyone understands it. brings me out to the world, brings It’s fun. It always gives me a posipeople to me. It gets us to travel, tive feeling. It relaxes everyone. too. Whatever hardship there is, it’s That holiday Greek atmosphere; outweighed by all the positives this there’s a way of including everybrings. It’s not always easy to jug- one. Not every country has that.” gle things. You just do your best.” Tessa’s next project, in the Her latest book is “Food from early stages, “is possibly Italian.” Many Greek Kitchens.” “It just Perhaps someday she’ll seemed the right time. “Greece pen a Cypriot cookbook. “It always has something so special. would be great. I love Cypriot The people are incredible. From food - the cleanness, the near the moment you step into Greece, Middle Eastern-ness of it, etc.” you don’t have to talk; they’re so We’ll see what she comes up helpful. If you can speak Greek, with, in the middle of raising chilyou’re family. They are so wel- dren and enjoying life. Kali Orexi!
Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum
By Maria Bappert A Great Day Trip from the Chicago area: Visit the “Athens on the Prairie” and the Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum in Columbus, Indiana My husband and I have gone on a number of trips with Mid-America Tours, and when we heard of one going to the Smoky Mountains National Park, Historic Berea, KY, Dollywood Festival of Nations, Cumberland Falls State Park and Churchill Downs Evening Races, we decided to sign up for it. So Frank and I joined a group of 30 seniors on a five-day trip to the south from April 27 to May 1. Our planned luncheon stop on our final day, May 1st, was at the Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum in Columbus, Indiana. When I first heard the name Zaharakos I knew right away that it was a Greek place. But nothing could prepare me for the visionary as well as the culinary treat that was in store for us … As we found out, three brothers first opened the doors of their confectionery on October 20, 1900. As Greek immigrants, they turned their backgrounds and skills in candy making into a thriving business. Like typical entrepreneurs, they were constantly looking for ways to improve their business. They found several new ideas at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, including the ice cream cone that was invented at the fair. This trip west led to the purchase of the Welte orchestrion pipe organ and the Liquid Carbonic soda fountains and back bar. For over 100 years these spectacular icons have been part of the beauty and appeal of Zaharakos. The Welte orchestrion is now the only one known to be on pub-
Zaharakos, 329 Washington Street, Columbus, IN 47201. Tel.: (812) 378-1900. www.zaharakos.com. lic display in a commercial setting. The “double” Liquid Carbonic soda fountains may be the only ones left in the United States that have been in their same location and are still functional. In 2006, the Welte orchestrion was sold, and the Zaharakos family put the shop up for sale after the death of Lewis Zaharako. In 2007, the Welte was re-acquired, and the extensive restoration began. Tony Moravec purchased Zaharakos, and to take care of the necessary restorations, he assembled an administrative and artistic staff, including Lynn Detwiler, Lori Latimer, Connie McKee, Jill Anderson, Ben Cleland, Rhonda Riesenberg and Debra Stone. They brought to the planning table particular skills which dovetailed with the new-old venture. The team worked hard and the grand reopening of Zaharakos took place on June 6 and 7, 2009. Backing up a bit into the interesting history of the iconic Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum, the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis inspired the Zaharako family to invest in the elegant icons that have made Zaharakos one of the finest ice cream parlors in America. These important and enduring symbols of the soda fountain era have been carefully restored to delight your senses as you linger over sweet and frothy treats. The small town where three brothers from Greece opened their store has been called the “Athens on the Prairie” for its world-class architecture (Saturday Evening Post, 1964) and a “jewel in the region” as one of the top 20 historic destinations in the world (National Geographic Traveler, 2008). As our bus was leaving Columbus, we had a special treat in store for us at 5th and Lindsey Streets: There is an incredibly beautiful bronze or bronze-toned sculpture of Eos (in Greek mythology, she is the goddess of dawn, also identified with the Roman goddess Aurora.) Eos is perhaps two stories high and probably the same in width, and is extremely graceful to behold. By the way, there are tours of the unique architecture in Columbus. This city is well worth visiting.
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TARAMOKEFTEDES TARAMA BALLS
Makes about 24 7 ounces crustless day-old bread 1 large garlic clove, peeled Salt 2 ounces tarama red onion, grated on the large holes of a grater 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped mint 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped italian parsley 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly ground black pepper all-purpose flour, for dusting light olive oil, for frying 1 lemon quartered For these fried tarama balls, you should use a good dense country bread, not the light airy type. These are best eaten on Clean Monday out on a picnic somewhere in the hills. If you want, make them in between flying kites. This is a lovely meze with ouzo that can mingle well with many dishes óand great, of course, to precede any fish or seafood dish. Tear the bread into pieces, put in a bowl and splash with just enough water to dampen. Leave for a few minutes, then squeeze it out over the sink until dry. Return the bread to the bowl. Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt into a paste using the flat of your knife, then add to the bread. Add the tarama, onion and its juice, mint, parsley and lemon juice, and a little pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands. It shouldn’t need salt, but taste to see. Shape into balls the size of a small cherry tomato ( about ¾ ounce ). Leave to rest for 15 minutes or so. Put some flour on a plate and roll the balls in it to cover them. Add the olive oil to a depth of about ¼ inch in a large nonstick skillet and put over medium-high heat. Add the balls, in batches if necessary, and fry until nicely golden all over, shaking the skillet once or twice to make sure nothing is stuck. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt. Eat warm, with a few drops of lemon juice. —From Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros/Andrews McMeel Publishing
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From New York City & From Greece
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