Great Foods and Flavors from the Cyclades and the Dodecanese
By Diane Kochilas
Billingual publication (English, Greek)
Publisher: Center for Business and Technological Development (KETA) of South Aegean (2008)
Introduction by Diane Kochilas
When Yiorgos Kalostos and Yiannis Roussos first contacted me about doing a book on the cuisine and food lore of the Aegean, the project Aegean Cuisine was still just a dream. But the idea intrigued me. I am a fellow islander, and the foods and flavors of the Aegean have shaped my life and work as a cook and cookbook author.
This books attemps to be more than a mere collection of recipes, though. Within its pages, I sought first to find local recipes that are indelibly tied to specific places; every island, even the tiniest, has at least a few of its own unique foods. There are common threads in the Aegean, such as a whole range of vegetable and bean fritters, of fascinating lamb and goat dishes, of fish, of course, of almond-based and honey-based sweets and more. The second task was to find a balance between each of these unique island recipes so that the wealth and variety of the Aegean table be as evident as possible.
The goals of this book are many, however. We set out both to document local recipes and products but also to present them in way that makes them relevant today. We chose not to photograph food in situ, for example, because one of the main goals of this book is to showcase regional or traditional fare in a contemporary way and by doing so hopefully encourage local cooks to do the same. As the Greeks are fond of saying, we eat with our eyes first. Presentation on the plate is important. Photographer Vassilis Stenos, however, did travel the islands to capture authentic regional products and the people behind them as well as the incomparably beautiful land – and sea – scapes of the Aegean.
In choosing the pantry items, I kept two criteria in perspective: tradition and relevance to the needs of today’s cooks. I wanted to highlight food products and raw ingredients that are both uniquely tied to the history of these islands but that also hold commercial promise.
Finally, it’s important to know that no book is ever the work of a single person. I owe special thanks to the great team of colleagues: Vassilis Stenos, whose graceful and light-filled pictures sbring the local cuisine to life; Julia Vitou and Maria Spanou of White, whose design communicatesthe friendly, sunny nature of the islands themselves; Evelina Foukou, who undertook the translation; Diana Farr Louis and Kostas Spatharakis, who lent theur hawk-eyes to the onerous task of proofreading; and Dawn Brown and Cecilia Knutsson, for the styling and cooking, respectively. Last but not least, without the inspiration, encouragement, and vision of Yiorgos Kalostos, this book would never been written.