A change of pace from the usual post here – something from Prez. Eleni herself:
The kitchen counter was covered with vegetable clippings, empty packages knives, garlic papers. I am rather like the Tasmanian Devil when I cook but the dishes are almost always sensory delights. Before the food touched my plate the smells from the stove and oven told me I had done well.
Tonight’s dinner was exceptional. Beyond the the nutritious meal for my family and a nice dining experience, I experienced a connection with my female ancestors. I had long forgotten about the weight of my youngest child strapped to my back while I stood at the sink. There were fresh, white pieces of haddock on the counter to my right and onions sizzling in the large pan on the stove. In my hands was a large bunch of parsley. As I washed and rubbed the leaves and releasing their strong scent I thought of the countless women who had made this dish before me; it was my first time. I thought of the women who, time, and time again had washed bunches of parsley that had been freshly cut from their gardens. I thought of them washing the bunches in their own sinks throughout Greece. I connected with them for a brief, passing moment. I wondered what thoughts went through their minds as they, too, rubbed the fresh, dark colored leaves. I wondered if their worries of the moment were those of child rearing or of how to call together the family for mealtime. Maybe the smell alone was enough to allure them to the table.
The dish is called Psari Plaki. It is a tomato-based, baked fish dish and it was time to get it into the oven. The cut fish is placed in a single layer on the bottom of a baking dish. My baking dish is dark yellow, made of clay in Portugal (another place where fish dishes abound) and a treasure of my kitchen. In looking at four different recipes out of two cookbooks I had some decisions to make. My dish would be an amalgam of these recipes choosing what I liked and thought would work best to my own taste. I went with the white wine, extra garlic and a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. I quickly perused the lists of ingredients to see if I missed anything and then I saw the finishing touch – cloves. I added four whole cloves to the mix and after simmering it poured it over the pieces of fish. It was not long before I could smell the wine and then the cloves from within the oven. I had forgotten about the women before me and was now looking forward to my own dinner with my own family. Before the food touched my plate the smells from the stove and oven told me I had done well.