In my first zealous story, I would like to talk about my love for food and the special relationship we Greeks have with eating, which were what prompted me to start Zelos.
I grew up in Greece in a family that loved good food and was cooking it from scratch every single day. There was always the fragrance of an herb or the smell of a recently-made dish wafting throughout our home. One of my fondest memories is coming back from school and having lunch with my grandmother, whom you can see with my teenaged father in the photo above. She always sat with me, even when she didn’t eat, because for her eating should always be done in good company. She was the loveliest person on earth and for her preparing a meal was an expression of love and care for us all.
This expression of love through food also came from my father, who was a strong advocate of quality. He was the one to go to different stores to find the freshest fish, the most tender meat, the best cheese, or the tastiest fruits. In the last fifteen years of his life, he cultivated a small orchard and grew his own vegetables. He taught me that you are what you eat and that part of a happy life is good food.
My mother, being a working woman, never cooked for us until my grandmother passed away. And then she took it upon herself to become the best cook on the planet. Her specialty was Greek pies - have you ever tried one of those spanakopitas? That was her thing, she made them to perfection, even making her own dough from scratch. She enjoyed cooking a variety of dishes that we all liked and every time we met she would prepare the one that each one of us liked best, including her six grandchildren.
My story is not at all unique because nearly all Greeks have a very intimate relationship with food. Greek families spend a lot of time around dinner tables, eating and socializing, talking about all kinds of things, from the mundane to the philosophical. Dinners and lunches are always rich in taste and fragrance, with a lot of small dishes that are all put in the middle of the table to be shared. Preparing a dish involves time, attention and art, and it is very often done as an expression of affection and care for someone else.
I hold very dear that part of my culture and all the love I received through food, and I have tried to pass some of that love through food to my three children. I don’t know if I have been successful. Sometimes, between swimming practice, ballet, class homework, volunteering and work meetings, life becomes very busy. But I have tried to do my best. Today I have two adult sons who both care about what they eat, often call to ask for a recipe, and enjoy cooking with their friends. My youngest child is still at home and while she doesn’t seem all that interested in cooking, she certainly appreciates good food. I hope in the future she too, like her brothers, will come to appreciate cooking as an act of love. And I hope that Zēlos will manage to convey that special food culture that is so much a part of being Greek...or even just Greek-loving!
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