“Is this typical Greek food?” I ask, as I walk into Angelos’ kitchen and familiar smells already fill the air with rich flavours. “Yes. They are the the kind of dishes your Greek mother-in-law would prepare when she meets her son’s girlfriend. The first time, she would cook herself. The second time, she may ask you to help her, just to make sure you learn how to properly cook and take care of her precious son.”
How is that for a Greek welcome! I already feel like home.
On the menu today: Γεμιστα & κολοκυθοκεφτεδες. Or, gemista & kolokithokeftedes – stuffed peppers and tomatoes & zucchini fritters.
The stuffed peppers are already in the oven, and Angelos has just prepared the mixture for the fritters. The recipe is slightly adjusted from the original version to give a local (Dutch) flavour and a slightly yellow texture to this dish – instead of Feta, he uses Gouda. In there one would find lemon zest, eggs, flour and dill, as well.
Angelos says his mother taught him and his twin brother how to cook because then she would not have to cook every day. While doing his military service, he was working as a cook in the artillery in northern Greece. Which sometimes meant preparing food out in the open in a kind of mobile kitchen. “But cooking over wood-burning fire was the best – the taste is so much better,” he says.
In the meantime, the frying pan is filled with olive oil from a bottle with no label on it. “Imported” from Greece. Of course. And now the fumes from the oven mix with the intense zucchini smell and the olive oil.
The result is golden-brown and intense, and promises to melt in your mouth.
In the meantime, one more Greek and one more Bulgarian join the party. The kitchen becomes tight but even cosier. Vasilis heads straight to the platter of fritters, picks the crunchiest one and like a serious food critic, nods approvingly of the result. Vesela prepares the salad with almost professional resolve.
It’s time to set the table for lunch. This beautiful apartment overlooking the canal is a fantastic setting so I steal a few fritters and a beautiful plate and take advantage.
In the meantime, the peppers and tomatoes in the oven are ready.
The smell of garlic fills the air and I can’t wait to taste them. Now the table is complete.
I keep the white and blue plate for myself and end up with a very Greek set-up in front of me. Aaaah this white and blue…
It is time to put the camera away and enjoy this delicious lunch in this wonderful company. I steal one last shot.
At the end of this big lunch, I still have a small piece of stuffed pepper in my plate. “Now a Greek mother would say you didn’t like it!” Angelos says, laughing.
As I finish the last bites from the plate, the Greek genes in my blood rejoice. The rest of my Bulgarian genes are full of joy just as much.