Athena Lamberis

Posts Tagged ‘cuisine’

The history of your Favorite Foods: Pizza, Ice cream . . .

In Stories, Travel on November 3, 2014 at 18:30
 So how do we track back in time to find the origins, the stories of how our favorite foods began?
  Who put fortunes in cookies and tomato sauce on spaghetti?
 Food pairings and cultural dishes have a long history.  From spice trades, to climate regions, culinary history continues to evolve.  Natural food traditions complement what was in season – what was in season also supports exactly what our immune system and our overall physical nutritional health.
 Steamed winter greens such as spinach drizzled with olive oil and a lot of lemon juice is a Greek food staple known as Horta.   If the greens were eaten with cheese or just salt, for example, you wouldn’t get the benefit of  absorbing the high levels of Calcium and Iron in the vegetable.  When lemon juice or other foods high in Vitamin C are added to the greens, this assists the body for absorption – plus spinach is delicious with lemon juice anyway! Win-win.
So that’s just the nutritional side . . . on the history side, this info-graphic produced by tells it how it is.  Anthropology of Food . . . .  I love it!  Appetite for variety – I celebrate all things real food.  Enjoy!
the history behind your favourite foods 53cd2cdd68e9e w640 How and Where the Worlds Most Beloved Foods Started (INFOGRAPHIC)

Sushi photo (slider) via Shutterstock

Greek Glory: The Kebab Pita at Thanasis

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2011 at 12:54

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I had a layover in Athens back in 2008. The first stop I made when I got out the airport was at Thanasi’s Greek kefta kebab pita joint.  I sat in the middle of Monastiraki square and savoured each bite.  The pita kebab filled my tastebuds with the celebrated spices that have influenced Greek cuisine for centuries. Thank goodness for the spice trades of India and Persia for the saffron and paprika. Thansis’ pita kebab consists of a fresh grilled pita with spiced ground lamb molded and grilled on a steel stick over hot coals. The tzatziki, yoghurt, onion, cucumber, dill sauce, calms the pungent flavours of the kebab and softens the chew of the fire grilled pastry pita. All the delicious flavours fit in the palm of your hand. The pita kebab is a whole moment of all major food groups wrapped tightly in wax paper.  It has the vegetable crunch from the onion and cucumber, fruit of the tomato, diary cream of the yoghurt, and finally the spiced meat kebab grilled on the open fire for the juiciest flavour in the Attica province.  I’ve yet to get the secret spices he puts into the kebab, hmmmm.

Now, fast forward to 2011 in Athens, Greece and I am busy buying shoes with my sister, Koko in Plaka instead of getting the secret ingredients.  The rest of the family sat down to Thansis’ glorious menu of authentic Greek cafe food.  When we did arrive to Thanasi’s with our new Athenian sandals, everyone was pleasantly satisfied and I ended up eating the lasting flavour bites from their plates. The whole place was bustling and I got inspired to do a ‘mini’ photo shoot of “Behind the Grill: at Thanasis”

The owner, Thanasi, was quietly sitting in the back of the restaurant, and smiling for the camera.  The food photographed simple and beautiful but what’s best was what came from the 4 metre grill and the men and women behind the scenes.  I didn’t ask how many kebabs they serve a day, but no doubt they are serving hundreds of amazing Athenian food memories for tourists and locals. Thanasi has been doing the right thing for the past 50 years, supporting a hardworking team that serves a quality product all grilled and rolled up into proud Grecian flavour.

Vegetarian Bobotie

In Recipe on September 29, 2010 at 16:10


spiced bobotie in the oven


This layered oven-baked dish is a reflection of  the histories, cultures, and cuisines that flavour the peninsula of Cape Town.  The roots of the spices used in traditional recipes come from Cape Malay cuisine but is easy to make your own Bobotie-inspired dish with the flavours and ingredients in your own kitchen, celebrating the truth of cultural-pluralism in our food language.


So I'm not photogenic but I'm layered with goodness


The meditative quality that cooking can give when we take the time and patience with real foods and combine their chemistry is a unifying cultural practice.  Food speaks a unifying language. Everything takes time to communicate.  Bobotie speaks a Cape Malay history, a strong culture alive in South African food and community combining the diversity and strength fully reflected in the flavours of the dishes served spicy hot in neighborhoods all around Cape Town.


2 slices of hearty bread

1/2 c. milk

1 cup of cooked rice/wild rice/lentil mix

1 chopped onion

1 tomato

2 garlic cloves

half grated carrot

half grated apple

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1 TB mild yellow curry powder

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 half teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cinnamon

handful of raisins

2 heaping spoonfuls of smooth apricot jam

pinch paprika and tumeric

salt and pepper to taste

oil to coat the dish


2 TB yoghurt

Soak the bread in milk and 1 tsp ginger. Fry the garlic, onion and left over grated ginger in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add carrots and fry until softened.  Mix in the curry powder and garam masala. Add all other ingredients in the pan and fry together until well mixed and distributed.  In an oven dish line the bottom with the soaked bread.  Layer the ingredients in the pan on top. Beat 1 egg and yoghurt with a pinch of paprika and turmeric and pour on top.  Bake until golden brown on top at 180 C.

Tip 1: Spices don’t last forever.  There are lots of theories on how to maintain their freshness but one that does not fail is to just use them.  Experiment and trust your intuition. Don’t be afraid, especially in a dish like bobotie known for combining wonderful spices.  Entertain yourself with spice alchemy and put that spice cupboard to work.

Tip 2: Substitute the rice mix with mashed chickpeas, white beans, or mince. If you have random beans or grains in your cupboard like millet, buckwheat or quinoa, be bold and mix them together and create a complex grain mix.  Just be mindful that each grain may have different cooking times so add them to the water accordingly.

Tip 3: Clean out your lingering grains in your cupboard by making a mix that amounts to what is needed.  Give the 3 TB of brown rice and 1/2 c. white rice and some red lentils some freedom and speak your own dialect of bobotie.

Tip 4: Leftover bobotie?  Slice brie and place on top of the bobotie. Pour apricot jam over the top and bake in your oven over high heat.  Bake brie on anything if you have to eat leftovers and you won’t look at leftovers the same.


Brie and Leftovers are best friends


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