This sauce! How could we begin to describe the wonder which is this sauce!? How could we convince you that this sauce, is something that you absolutely have to make…like, today…before it becomes difficult to find sweet, vine ripened tomatoes. Will it help if we tell you that this sauce, so basic, so simple, will elevate your dishes in ways you could barely imagine?! It’s true! It’s so deliciously true!
Thank you friends! You have been really patient…and we have been somewhat of a tease (No!…not in that way!). We realize that many of you have been waiting for the recipe to our parents’ homemade tomato sauce, which we reference frequently in other recipes. We’ve told you that if you didn’t have your own homemade sauce, that you could use passata or some other sort of tomato product as a substitute in many meals, and you’ve been very understanding…but you still ask about our parents’ sauce. And we’re happy you do!
When Greeks grill meat or fish, any meat or fish, it typically receives the same treatment: cook until done, pile everything onto a platter, and dress immediately with a generous combination of olive oil, oregano and freshly squeezed lemon juice. This sauce (for lack of a better word…Can you think of a better word?…Maybe dressing?) coats everything, and mixes together with the juices coming from the grilled goods to create something fantastic.
Some of you have said that you love to read the stories that go along with many of our recipes, and that really makes our hearts sing; we love sharing them. What we love just as much are the stories that our parents share with us, particularly when we are having one of our Mia Kouppa cooking sessions. Many are tales we have already heard, but with every re-telling, there are more details which our parents remember to add to the story. An example of this came as we were putting the finishing touches on our melomakarona. We were licking spoons coated in delicious Greek honey as our mother watched on. She then recounted how, as a little girl, she once ate so much honey that she got horribly sick and could not stand the sight of it for several months. This was a problem, because honey was a mainstay of her diet.
Several months ago we came across a video clip of an Italian-American comedian named Sebastien Maniscalco. In this particular bit, entitled “Doorbell”, Chicago-born Maniscalco compares the reaction of families today versus those of twenty years ago, when the doorbell rings unexpectedly. His portrayal of households faced with unanticipated company (which you should definitely watch by clicking here) is quite hilarious, and also, a little bit sad. As with most things comedic, an element of truth runs through it. Why do people, as Maniscalco points out, cringe at the thought of company? Why does the idea of entertaining, especially at the last minute, stress us so? We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to, and that with a change of perspective and some staples in the freezer, fridge and pantry, you can jump for joy when company comes calling.
During Greek Pascha (Easter) the air reverberates with greetings of Χριστός ανέστη (Xristos anesti: Christ is risen) and responses of Αληθώς ανέστη (Alithos anesti: Truly, he is risen). For many followers of the Orthodox faith, Pascha is one of the holiest and most beautiful of holidays, preceded by Holy week which begins with the Saturday of Lazarus, and continues to the celebration of Pascha on the following Sunday. Church services during Holy week remember and mark Christ’s last week before his crucifixion and also his resurrection.
Pascha is also referred to as the Feast of Feasts, and that’s no joke. On Holy Saturday night, church services celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This Divine Liturgy ends in the early hours of Sunday, after which families gather to break their fast and to play a game of tsougrisma with their dyed eggs. Traditionally, the meal served at this time is a soup called magiritsa which is made of lamb offal flavoured with a lemon-egg sauce. As kids, we would declare this lamb offal soup…awful (see what we did there?) To this day, we don’t really like it. Our parents however, still enjoy breaking their fast with this soup, while we typically enjoy a fast-food burger picked up at the 24 hour drive-through. New traditions are fine too.
We think that one of the most comforting phrases anyone can hear is, “Me too!”. With these two, simple words, so much is communicated; they signify a sense of belonging, of kinship, of mutual understanding. You once dreamed of being a prima ballerina, even though you have size ten feet and zero flexibility? Me too! You think you have an amazing singing voice that needs the acoustics of a shower to really shine? Me too! You are convinced that potato chips are a vegetable because, well, potato? Me too!
Since beginning this blog and sharing the idea behind Mia Kouppa with friends, family, co-workers and random strangers (we are very shameless friendly people), me too‘s have been reverberating in our ears. When we tell people that our parents measure nothing in the kitchen, that their cooking is instinctual and that their “recipes” (note: the term is used very loosely) are littered with instructions that truly make no sense, heads nod, laughter ensues, and “Me too’s!” are chuckled. Folks, we are not alone. It seems that there are cupboards in Greek kitchens everywhere which hold the ubiquitous kouppa. All sorts of kouppes! More kouppes!! And behind every one of these kouppes there is a mother, a father, a grandparent or an uncle, someone, who wields this kouppa like a magic wand, whipping up delicious food that is next to impossible to re-create. What to do? Keep these amazing recipes confined to one kitchen? Silly…of course not!