We each have vivid memories of returning home after spending time at a non-Greek friend’s house and telling our parents about the unusual and often delicious foods we had eaten there. We were both pretty adventurous and rarely refused anything which was offered to us. We were especially intrigued by food which came from a can…because this was not something you ever saw in our childhood kitchen. We were amazed at the convenience, the variety, the flavour, and the colourful labels and whimsical names that were stacked high in our friends’ pantries. When we went grocery shopping with our parents we would search for these cans in the aisles and try to convince them to buy them for us. It rarely worked. Instead, our parents would read the labels, (often asking us to translate what was written) and say Θα το κάνουμε καλύτερα (We’ll make it better). This was how we ended up with Greek-style beef ravioli, home-made alphabet noodle pasta, and this cream of tomato soup.
We don’t know about you, but we’re supposed to be having spring like weather here in Canada. It seems that someone didn’t get the message. In the span of a few hours this afternoon we experienced a tiny bit of sun, snow, hail and rain. What ever happened to April showers bringing May flowers? Hail is not showers!
Since we can’t control the weather (we have tried, promise!), we can at least control how we live with it. Our winter coats are still accessible, as are our boots and hats. We’ve kept the salt out for de-icing the driveway and our beds are still incredible cozy with our woollen blankets and duvets. And in the kitchen, we’ve been leaning towards winter weather food, comforting for body and soul…like this deliciously soothing yiouverlakia soup flavoured with avgolemono and tomato. Bring it on April…we can take you! Actually, we’re just kidding…we can hardly take this anymore! We are dreaming of spring, and salads!
So here’s a recipe you will either love, or hate; we don’t think there is any in-between (although we suppose you can also love to hate it). Trahana is an ancient food, whose origins are somewhat disputed; some argue that it originated in Greece, while others claim that Turkey or Persia introduced trahana to the world. Regardless of who ate it first, today trahana is eaten in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. In fact, many consider trahana to be the traditional soup of Cyprus. Versions of this meal are also very popular in Crete (where it is called xinohondros). Our parents are neither Cypriot nor Cretan, and still we were subjected to served this soup often growing up.
We love this soup. We love making it today, and we love reminiscing about how much fun it was to help our parents make it when we were young. It’s true that it is relatively simple and in terms of active cooking time, this soup doesn’t require much; there is a lot of waiting around. Waiting for the chicken to boil and for the stock to be made. Waiting then for the rice to cook. One of the key steps however is preparing the egg and lemon mixture, the avgolemono. This is what transforms a plain rice soup into a Greek classic.
Fakes (pronounced F*@% – yes…seriously) is the Greek term for lentil soup. It is a meal which is filling, nutritious and very easy to prepare. It is perhaps also a welcome change from the more complicated and time consuming moussaka and yemista recipes we’ve recently impressed you with posted. We totally understand that sometimes you just need a quick, simple, go-to recipe in order to get the kids off to hockey, the laundry off of the floor, or make a dent in the television show you’ve been planning on binge watching.
It also great to have in your apron pocket a few recipes which can easily and inexpensively feed a crowd. Fakes is certainly one of those recipes. We love to entertain, often and lots of people, but that does not mean that we are always in the mood to set up elaborate affairs. Often times we just want to hang out with our family and friends, offer them some good food so that no one gets grumpy, without spending a fortune. Add a good quality rustic bread, an assortment of olives, some feta cheese, a nice bottle of wine and you are good to go.