Bringing Greece Home: My Culinary Quest


2/12/13

I spent last summer riding ferries over turquoise waters and buses over rolling hills. I hiked to ancient theatres and temples on seaside cliffs, and rode donkeys down to hot springs. Most importantly, I tasted beautiful mixtures of spinach and feta pies paired perfectly with aged wine–I tasted the Mediterranean and fell in love.

Through the study abroad program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I had the irreplaceable experience to study culinary journalism in Greece.

And through all these experiences I realized that the cuisine truly reflects the simple tradition and rich history of the land and its people.

This was increasingly apparent when I arrived on the peace Greek island of Kea.  There I had the opportunity to visit Agalia Kremezi ‘s culinary school. Kremezi is a former journalist turned cookbook author that holds her school at her vine and flower covered home.  There I learned how to make stuffed  grape leaves,  herb flat bread, and paper-thin phyllo dough, and I learned that no meal is complete with a wine glass that is anything less than half full. The food we made was very traditional. Most of the ingredients used were straight from Kremezi’s garden or from other local farmers.  It allowed you to taste the true flavors of the land and experience the culture of the people around you, making it a genuine food experience.

Genuine food is hard to find in America. Fast food is uncommon in Greece, only making its presence known in large cities such as Athens.  In the States, go out to eat because we’re lazy and want to save time. In Greece, they go out to eat to have rich conversations and savor every bite.

But then as soon as it started, the trip was over and I was back in America. And the first thing that greeted me? A McDonald’s in the airport. After spending time in a country that prided itself on local flavors and culture, I was back in a society that cares too much about the cheapest and the fastest.

I also started to suffer from something I think is common for most who go abroad. I started having withdrawals from the flavors I once experienced on a daily basis. I was soon craving feta and baklava like no other, but I had nowhere to go to find them. It was up to me to bring what I learned from Greece back to America, which is easier said than done. However, I managed to recreate, to the best of my abilities the food that I learned to love in Greece back in my college kitchen (and budget).

For the article and recipes go to: http://www.collegeandcook.com/

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