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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 1 October 2016
12 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 OCTOBER 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Taste, memory and megisti A new cookbook celebrating Greek and Kastellorizian cuisine has been created in WA from traditional recipes lovingly handed down through the generations. On the eve of its publication, Neos Kosmos reveals the rich ingredients of From Our Greek Kitchen To Yours − the remarkable record of a Greek Australian community’s cullinary and cultural journey MICHAEL SWEET Australia promises something different − a rich feast of culinary delights borne of the collective experience of a community. It all started with a Saturday afternoon Greek T cooking class in Perth in 2011. Established by the Castellorizian Association of WA, the class whet the appetite of scores of local women, who jumped at the chance to share much-loved traditional recipes inherited from their mothers and grandmothers. Hugely popular with the local Greek Australian community − and Philhellenes beyond, within months the classes had evolved into gatherings where stories would be told; nostalgic, joyful reminiscences of where the recipes originated from, their cultural significance, and glimpses of a maternal chain stretching back through the generations. The Saturday sessions became a forum for cultural exploration and celebration, and after years of success, the obvious next step for organisers was not only to record these precious recipes and the oral histories that accompanied them, but to share them more widely. So was From Our Greek Kitchen To Yours conceived. To be launched at the association's headquarters at Mount Hawthorn on 9 October, here's no shortage of Greek cookbooks on the shelves of Australia's bookstores, but a new publication out of Western and the Perth Glendi on 23 October, this beautifullyproduced and lavishly-illustrated book contains some 100 recipes by more than 50 contributors who attended the classes, many of whom added their personal insight into their recipe's history, and its place in their family's traditions. Former Perth teacher and home economics expert Helen Anastasas organised the classes and is the book's editor. Helen told Neos Kosmos how from little things big things grew. "I remember the first ever demonstration back in 2011 was how to make the Kastellorizian sweet katoumari. From this point on the enthusiasm and excitement just grew, and soon there was no shortage of volunteers wanting to help out." Today the classes are one of the Castellorizian Association of WA's most visible and popular activities, so much so that for upcoming classes, participants must sign up on a waiting list. "Mothers, daughters and grandchildren come along, and there's always a lot of laughter, and great team-work to be seen. New skills are shared, stories told, and of course everyone leaves with a dish to take home to impress their families," says Helen who, like others on the project team, has given her time on a voluntary basis. While the majority of participants in classes are children or grandchildren of migrants from Kastellorizo who came to Australia in the 1940s and 1950s, attendees also trace their lineage to other islands and mainland Greece. The book, with an initial print run of 1,000, has been partly funded by income from Perth's 2015 Glendi, but it was the input of private sponsors which enabled organisers to ensure its high production standards. Marilyn Tsolakis, one of Greek Kitchen's four co-editors, says the classes and the book play a vital role in presenting Kastellorizian and Greek culture to the wider Australian community in WA. "It's a wonderful community project, and it's created so much enthusiasm in the general community for the Castellorizian Association and its work." Marilyn points out that it's a project that goes beyond preserving ancient traditions. "We of course draw on recipes from the past, and the experiences we had in learning them from our mothers and grandmothers, but there's also a creative new take on traditional dishes in some of the recipes presented. "In some recipes there's a fusion, a very contemporary approach, where you see fascinating combinations of new and old." From Our Greek Kitchen to Yours (RRP $40) is available from the Castellorizian Association of WA. Contact Anita Verne Filmer on 0407 922 783 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. * Please note the spelling of Kastellorizo is with a ‘C’ when referring to the Perth association. Imam baildi − a delicious mix of eggplant, tomato, garlic, oregano and olive oil. Christina Kyros’ recipe for this vegetarian delicacy goes back to her yiayia. Reputedly first made for a Turkish imam in Kastellorizo during Ottoman rule, the dish has been a favourite in Christina’s Perth cafe for over 40 years.
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