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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Macarounes and gkogkes


The pungent whiff of garlic has 'perfumed' our house from kitchen to bedroom and beyond,  as from  a vegan Pepe le pew. 



We had macaroni for lunch today.  What you would call spaghetti.   I ate it with a simple tomato sauce made from freshly grated tomato (from the freezer) with a little oregano, cinnamon and little round spice balls, all-spice I think in english, and some finely grated mild yellow cheese.  

K wanted garlic macaroni (skorthomacaronatha) which is his favourite.  Usually after the spaghetti has been drained I would pour over burnt oil.  Literally burnt.  The oil is heated until smoking in a small pot called a briki and should sizzle as it is poured over the pasta.  Today I crushed three cloves of garlic and heated it gently in olive oil adding a little tomato puree and paprika.  This I then poured over the spaghetti which I topped with a finely grated hard sheep's cheese. And from this garliky sauce came the pungent aroma which permeates our house.



Another favourite way to eat spaghetti is with the sheep's  cheese fried in oil and mixed with the pasta. The sheep's cheese obviously does not melt or it would be a sticky mess. 

Or just with plain yoghurt, tangy sheep's yoghurt or the strained greek yoghurt which has become popular everywhere.  And if there's nothing else (but there will always be garlic and olive oil) then spaghetti is eaten with ketch-up, or kets-ap as it is called here.



I well remember the first time I grated cheese for my mother-in-law, preparing for yet another family meal, everyone squashed inelegantly around her rickety old dining table.  I used the coarse side of the grater, it was so much easier.  She took one look at it said 'mmmf, is that the way you do it.  We use the finest grater'.  Oh boy, totally useless foreign daughter-in-law!

Greeks eat a lot of pasta, much of it mixed and shaped expertly by old hands and eaten with seared butter or oil and covered in mizithra, a hard sheep's cheese.  The handmade pasta can be made simply with flour and water or at the end of summer, when chickens are laying and goat udders are full, village women make macarounes, gkogkes and hilopites (amongst others) rich with eggs and milk.


My mother-in-law would make pillow cases full of hilopites in the summer sun, kneading the dough full of eggs and milk from their small holding on the Peloponese, rolling it out with a long broom-handle-like rolling pin, cutting each piece to the size of a fingernail and then spreading them out to dry on sheets covering all the beds and tables inside the house.  She would store the pillow cases full of pasta under her bed and dole them out all through the winter.


Neighbour Vaso still makes her own hilopites and always gives us a bag of them which we eat when fresh, although I really don't like them.  They taste of the goat that supplied the milk.









15 comments:

  1. I must try that grated frozen tomato, what a neat idea! The addition of spices really intrigues me. I need to try that out.
    But the bit I enjoyed most of all, was the idea of all that pasta being made by old hands, I could almost see them making their mini mountains of food to squirrel away.

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    1. I don't really like cinnamon in savoury dishes but the Greeks do and they love those little spice 'balls', should have taken a photo of them
      I don't think young hands can be bothered with pasta making. If Vaso makes more this summer I'll take some photos of her too. They make the pasta dough with very quick sure movements and never seem to tire or wonder whether it's worth the effort

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  2. It is almost midnight here and i want macaroni so much, tomorrow i shall try to make some.

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    1. Hi Yael, macaroni goes down well anytime. I like it with bolognaise sauce. Minced meat and tomatoes

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  3. Yup. No pressure. We won't tell you how we do it. We will all crowed around the table and wait for you to do it wrong
    Your amazing having lasted all this time
    Love pasta. Hubby says I always make enough to feed an army
    I don't mind. I'll eat it for days as leftovers.

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    1. Mother in law just presumed I knew everything that any normal greek girl would know, including speaking greek. Picking horta, cooking fakes, cleaning fish and grating cheese!

      We lived in Piraeus and then Crete and then Salamina before moving to the family compound on Poros. If I had lived there from the beginning I would have fled for sure!!!

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  4. Aha the Briki, I bought one in a hardware shop in Poros. Told every Greek house has one.
    Mine hangs up in the kitchen like an exotic ornament, polished ,shiny and new as the day it was bought.
    I had some vague idea that it was for boiling coffee to make it into thick paste for the tiny Greek coffee cups.
    I can,t use it on my gas hob as its too little to rest on the 4 metal supports over the burners.
    Seem to remember most places I,ve stayed in had solid electric plates on hobs in Greece , which would make sense with the Briki use.
    Your Briki looks as it should loved and used.


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    1. Every house has many brikis. I have just taken a photo of ours for another post. Next time you come you'll have to get a broad bottom briki which can be used like a small pot for boiling eggs, water, or half a dozen greek coffees. Every greek house also has a small gas burner which is used just for the briki.

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  5. I'm not sure I understand why the oil has to be burnt. I know of some people who add a little cinnamon to their pasta sauce, but I think cinnamon is better with sweet, than savory. Is it customary for all women to store their pasta under their bed in a pillow case? Funny traditions. -Jenn

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    1. I'm not sure they burn the oil either. They're completely destroying its god qualities but this is the practice here. It has to be smoking before it's ready. You see the burning oil and think 'crikey' it's going to catch on fire. Then, it's ready. Some housewife years ago must have acciently burnt the oil and decided she liked it better that way. Who knows?
      I prefer cinnamon for sweets. I do eat meat flavoured with cinnamon but it's not my favourite. I used cinnamon in the tomato sauce because I thought K would eat some...but then he didn't. Typical

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    2. Under the bed were sored all sorts of things. When my mother in law was growing up her house was extremely basic. No cupboards and wardrobes. Extra clothes were hung on nails and a lot of things were hung from the rafters. Under the bed was out of the way.

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  6. Many years ago I had an Italian girlfriend in London, who introduced me to very simple pasta. She would fry garlic in olive oil, add a few chilli flakes, and a small sprinkling of chicken stock cube. The spaghetti would be tossed in this flavoured oil and topped with freshly grated Parmesan. It was delicious, and so much better than the usual heavy tomato sauces that abounded at the time.

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  7. I actually prefer spaghetti bolognaise but simple pasta does have it's place. And it is surprisingly tasty.

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  8. It is interesting to hear of your everyday food and not all posh with tv programme type language.
    We don't eat pasta except for occasional spaghetti but this is rare. It is different food cultures around the world but it is detail like that that interest me talked about in a down to earth way. Thank you Linda.

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    1. Down to earth, back to nature, it's all here. I might write about feasts and celebrations but even then a lot of the food, except the pork is from the fields and by way or involves grains, vegetable and lentils.
      Another get together for 25th March, national holiday.

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