Daily life on a greek island through the eyes of a local-alien, still 'foreign' even after 40 years residence. This 'foreigner' is a local-KIWI-alien so there is a New Zealand flavour to my writing. Photo above is the tranquil view from Pukehina Beach, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
Kokoretsi..offal in all its scrumptious glory
Kokoretsi is a long spit of offal wrapped with sheep or goat's intestines. Those of you who would not usually eat liver or heart or lung or other unmentionables from any kind of animal should just try a little of this spit roast delicacy. The innards around the outside are cooked to a crisp and the pieces of offal inside are deliciously seasoned with oregano, thyme, lemon juice and olive oil with salt and pepper. It is best eaten hot straight off the spit with lashings of tzatziki and village bread and a glass of rough red wine. You certainly should try at least a small morsel.
Metres and metres of intestines ready for their difficult cleaning. Sometimes the intestines are turned inside out and cleaned, then soaked in lemon juice. My mother-in-law patiently and painstakingly turned them inside out with the use of a small stick. Now K attaches one end to the tap and lets a flow of water clean the insides out.
The apprentice learning the tiresome job of washing intestines
Thirsty work. Time for a break and a few cans of 'Fix'.
Offal, also called 'variety meats'?? Sweatbreads. Internal organs. Entrails. This is it, cut into large pieces, washed and ready to be threaded onto the long skewer.
The master at work, pushing the chunks of offal one by one onto the spit
The trainee gives it a go.
Starting to weave the intestines around the meat. This long thread of innards holds the meat together and keeps the insides moist and succulent.
Every part of the meat has to be covered by the intestines. No little bits are allowed to be poking out.
The intestines are in small lengths and when one piece comes to an end it is knotted on to the next piece.
The roll is basted regularly with olive oil and lemon juice. This is ready for tasting and small chunks will be chopped off the ends to be tested for succulence and edibility as the meat starts to sizzle. This is an 'unavoidable' part of the cooking and has to be accompanied by a few more cans of beer to wash down the 'test sample'.
Kokoretsi of course originates from ancient times and sacrifices to the gods. A similar dish is found all over the Balkans and Turkey. In Greece it is one of the meats that we eat at easter but also on many other festive occasions. Nowadays it is possible to buy a small roll in the butcher's shop which can be cooked in the oven. Hardly the same however and the men miss out on all that long tradition of preparation, the discussions of kokoretsis in days gone by, the appraisal, the testing, the accompaning greek music, dancing, the enjoyment and good cheer of company.
At easter the kokoretsi is supposed to be a starter but every year it is the first meat to be taken down from the spit and we have just about devoured it all by the time the lamb or goat is taken down and cut up for the table. We always manage a plate of easter lamb as a follow up but every year vow, in vain, to have the kokoretsi as a small meze and wait for the main course.
I write. I create. I observe and record my life, after 40 years, in Greece. I love to create either with my handy craft, cooking or writing. Freeform always. Keep it simple, keep the interest, make it useful. I write about my garden sometimes, my grandchildren and the different culture and traditions. My New Zealand up bringing was so different from this way of life that I do truly feel like an alien at times. Greece is home but so is my kiwi 'homeland'. I am a citizen of both and an alien in both.