Anu's zealous vegetarian dinner

Anu's zealous vegetarian dinner

This is a different sort of blog, one that I asked my friend and partner-in-crime, Pauline, to write, since it's all about her (virtual) birthday dinner, from her bestie in Hawaii, Zelos fan, Anukriti Hittle. I just loved this story of love through food, for that's one of the main reasons I started Zelos, to share that Greek tradition of showing love and care through tasty & healthy food. Read all about Anu's gorgeous spread that you just might want to try this Valentine's Day weekend! Enjoy, Maria

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Anu & I go way, way back. We met as young grad students in New York City and became the best of friends, even though we came from (and life later took us to) opposite ends of the globe. We were lucky enough these past years to get together for a precious annual visit, with long talks (alone...no husband or kids!), good food & drink, and even a bit of sightseeing & shopping.

Like so many others who saw reunions and special events cancelled with the pandemic, our 2020 girls' trip and foodie fun went out the window. Yet Anu surprised me last month with a beautiful post of a special dinner she made, with lots of Zelos products, in honor of my birthday. I posted about it on social media and laughed as my friends thought I had abandoned the grey Belgian winter for a birthday bash in Hawaii, where she lives (don't I wish!). But no, it was a gift from afar, one to enjoy virtually, like so many other things we've gotten used to enjoying online.

Anu is my creative friend, the counter-balance to my very rational Capricorn self. I asked her what prompted her to dedicate an entire weekend to cooking and food photography.

"It was not only in the actual cooking and eating that the pleasure lay, but in the shopping, almost as I would have done in person. And then when the package arrived, I planned my weekend accordingly. First, I had to take pics of the products themselves before I cooked them...and I didn't want to just lay them out and take pics. I wanted to do something fun with them because they were each in their own way so interesting. I got thinking of the textures -- especially of the pearl couscous, and how I could use it to reflect my surroundings. So, some of the pics look almost like landscapes (the mountains of white linen, the sand couscous in the foreground, and the kukui seed lei like a river or a path). The best part was that it was not set up that way, it just moved into place."

 

Agrozimi handmade egg and milk couscous 

The couscous is from Agrozimi, and one of Zelos' best-sellers. The funny thing is that Maria and I, when we visited their factory a couple of years ago, found out that my father-in-law used to buy Agrozimi's bulk trahaná in the 1970's, when he had a small shop in Thessaloniki. He was so proud that we were bringing these products to the States but I don't think even he could have imagined they'd have ended up in the middle of the Pacific!

I'd asked Anu to tell me more. "I shot the products on a Saturday morning when the family was away, and when they got back I realized I had been at it without a break for over two hours, and it felt a bit like when I was back in my old photography days, just lost in light and thought and form...
Then, of course, came the various meals. I've realized I really enjoy cooking and photographing during weekends because they're two of the few activities where I"m not sitting on my behind! Work, stationary bike, eating with family, watching tv, having a drink, and sleeping...all entail sitting. Well, I do exercise, but most of the day is spent inactive. With cooking and taking pictures, there's a lot of puttering (like gardening). Plus, at the end of it, you get a meal and a social media post to make everyone jealous of a vegan meal!
Last, but not least, there was the full photo story to be compiled. That's where the pressie part of it really came in, to show you what we enjoyed, because of you! It really felt like something we both had shared--meals and drinks together, over all this distance."

 

 

 

 I have to admit, I'd have never thought of using my childhood favorite, Sour Cherry Spoon Sweet, instead of maraschinos in a Manhattan, or adding a twist of Bergamot Peel Spoon Sweet to garnish her other creative cocktails...but that's why I have Anu & Maria in my life 😊 

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