Eat Like A Greek

I wasn’t raised in a traditional Greek family, with two Greek-speaking parents; nevertheless, my Mom and her family made it their quest to infuse us with a love for all things Greek. My Dad graciously allowed it to happen, although, over the years, he’s made every attempt to stick a Scottish label on us, but not much sticks to Greece (pun intended). Somehow, I managed to make it through thirty years of life before I realized my “Greek” family originated from Italians. So four generations ago, the grandparents of my grandparents left Italy and made their lives in Greece. And so, I willingly embrace all things Italian.

My Mom did a good job of incorporating American food in to our lives. I’m pretty sure she did it so my Dad wouldn’t starve. And though he loves her cooking, he doesn’t fully appreciate the more colorful aspects of Greek cuisine. Thankfully, I inherited my Mom’s palette and have no food fears. Well, except for lima beans, and badly cooked okra. Oh…and liver.

At an early age, I learned to eat first and then ask, “What is that?” When a plate was set in front of me, regardless of the smell, texture, or look of an item, I was required to take a bite. This small obedience was, as I look back over my life, one of the best gifts my Mom gave me. If not for that little rule, I would have missed out on so many wonderful and exciting flavors from many different cuisines.

When I was eighteen, my family, in different variations, spent the summer in Greece. We lived many days on the beaches of Glyfada, Tolo, and Vouliagmeni, only coming out of the sea for a few hours to eat a delicious lunch. We ate fresh fish, village salads, crispy potatoes, slabs of cheese, lemony horta, and loaves of fresh bread. With wet hair and wet bathing suits, sand between our toes, and sunburned skin, we took pleasure in eating the simple but scrumptious food. Bread was for dipping, lemons for squeezing, fingers for licking, and forks were, well, forks were optional.

The other night I saw an episode of FoodTV’s Chopped: When Chefs Collide (Episode 3.1). In the appetizer round, the chefs were tasked with creating an appetizer out of Manila clams, kumquats, and croissants. The Greek chef, Peter Giannakas, Chef and Restaurateur of Ovelia Psistaria Bar, New York, NY., was eliminated in the first round. He created a dish that, according to the judges, was difficult to eat. They also commented about the flavors of his dish; however, since they were too afraid to get their hands messy, I question whether or not they actually tasted the dish. As the chef was eliminated, he said to the judges, “Don’t be afraid to eat.” I laughed so hard I nearly cried. My Mom would be proud of him.

Thanks to her, and the generations of Greeks who came before me, I am not afraid to taste – even if it means getting messy or trying new flavor combinations. I believe my love for cooking is in the genes, seasoned by my Mom, and whipped in to shape by hours of practice. For that I am thankful and, Lord willing, I will have many more years to eat like a Greek.

Masters Vindicate Chefs

This season Bravo TV premiered a new show, Top Chef Masters. There are many television food shows with "chefs" competing against each other: Bravo’s Top Chef, Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen, FoodTV’s The Next Food Network Star, Chopped, two versions of Iron Chef, Throwdown, and more.

I’ve learned quite a bit watching the chefs compete: timing, bravado, teamwork, back-biting, creativity, failure, skills, and great taste combinations. You take what you learn, duplicate the good and make every effort to avoid the bad.

And then along comes Top Chef Masters. It’s ALL good. What a refreshing difference. The competitors are all professional chefs with proven skills and over-the-top talent. It’s truly inspiring to see the good-fellowship, humbleness, deep respect, and courage they display for the competition and each other.

If you haven’t watched Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, you’re missing a great experience. The competition has just passed the first round of the final challenge, so you still have a chance to catch a few more shows. You’ll be glad you did.

What Album Is That?

In Season 2 – Episode 7 of In Plain Sight, entitled Duplicate Bridge,” Marshall Mann walks in to Norman Baker’s house and there’s an album on the turntable. Marshall holds up the album and I recognized it right away:

Count Basie off the album Count Basie’s Finest Hour (Verve), and the cut is Li’l Darlin’. Just in case you were wondering. Scroll down and listen to it.

Count Basie’s Finest Hour – Co…

Goren’s Back!

Tonight is the Season Premier of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. My Mom came over and watched last season’s finale in preparation for tonight. Goren’s back and I’m a happy girl. I’ve missed him.

And this season, we’re getting a taste of Jeff Goldblum on L&W:CI. This should be interesting. I’m hoping there is some interaction between the two characters.

Goren’s back! He’s older and perhaps slightly more imbalanced and quirky. After all, he’s the son of a serial killer. I don’t care. Welcome back, Mr D’Onofrio. It’s time to get your Goren on.

Oprah’s Taking Heat Over Palin

I’ll admit it. I’ve been watching Oprah for many years. I’ve laughed and cried over the shows, and occasionally yelled at the TV in response to some knucklehead. A few years ago, my staff bought me the anniversary CD set and as I watched the shows…I laughed and cried all over again. In the dark ages, I recorded the shows on video tape (VHS not Beta) while I was at work. With DVRs, it’s so much easier to delete the programs with topics that don’t interest me.

Back in 2004, I made the mistake of watching the “Vote” show. It was blatantly political and biased towards John Kerry. If I remember correctly, the guests were: Cameron Diaz, Christina Aguilera, Drew Barrymore, and P.Diddy. The lowest point of the show came when Cameron Diaz got emotional (I’d like to think she was acting but I’m not convinced she knows how) and said:

“We have a voice now, and we’re not using it, and women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our bodies. We could lo–if you think that rape should be legal, then don’t vote. But if you think that you have a right to your body, and you have a right to say what happens to you and fight off that danger of losing that, then you should vote, and those are the…It’s your voice. It’s your voice, that’s your right.”

In her little mind, a vote for George Bush meant rape would be legalized. Of all the shows I’ve EVER watched on Oprah, that one got me so steamed I actually posted a comment on the community board asking her to refrain from letting celebrities make idiots of themselves…or something like that. I heard Oprah say that the “Vote” show got more comments than any other show she’d done. Thousands of people, from both sides of the aisle, took the time to comment about the show.

“If you think rape should be legal,
then don’t vote.”
Cameron Diaz
(Oprah, 2004)

Now it’s no secret that Oprah is giddy over Obama. She’s had him on the show twice…and both times she was practically worshipping him. It was a bit much. Feeling nauseated, I hit the delete button a few minutes in to the show. But, I have to give her credit for sticking by her candidate. She believes he’s the man for the job and she’s still worshiping faithfully at his feet.

Drudgereport ran a controversial story about Oprah’s fans asking for a Sarah Palin interview. I went to Oprah’s website and found Oprah’s statement regarding the issue:

“The item in today’s Drudge Report is categorically untrue. There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over.” – Oprah Winfrey, September 5, 2008

Let’s face it. It’s Oprah’s show. And more than likely, she chose not to use her show as a platform for candidates because of the backlash after the “Vote” show. But now fans are frothing and demanding she interview Governor Palin. She’s a woman. Oprah’s a woman. Blah! Gimme a break.

I may not agree with everything Oprah does and says, but I respect her ambition, her sticktoitiveness, and her passion. After all is said and done, I’ve watched more good shows than bad, I’ve seen her do some great things for people, and, well, I just like her. I’m choosing to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one and I’ll pray that she can withstand the storm.

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