Zambolis apartments

Zambolis apartments
For your holidays in Chania

Friday 25 November 2016

Cheats' Haniotiko Boureki

I ran into a couple of girlfriends in the supermarket the other day. By friends, I mean real friends, not the ad hoc kind we make on facebook. 'Ελα ντε that they are also on facebook and we are friends there too, which explains how they knew what I had been cooking recently.

"What a great boureki you made!" said one girlfriend.
"I wish I'd thought of making it like that!" said the other girlfriend.

Boureki is a very common favorite family recipe in Hania. (See my basic recipe here: While I was trying to remember how I made the last one we ate, and why it seemed to impress my friends so much, it occurred to me that I 'faked' it a little, by using 'cheap' ingredients.

"Did the family like it?" said one girlfriend.
"Did they notice the difference?" said the other girlfriend.

My husband noticed something different ("I prefer it without the pastry, the way you usually make it"), but my kids actually preferred it to my usual boureki, because it had a crunchier texture. But the family still doesn't know about the substitutions I made to the basic recipe, and they didn't seem to realise that I had made any. I don't intend to tell them, either. The boureki just looked different.

The whole issue could be phrased as a 'man' problem:
"My husband's always complaining that I don't buy mizithra much these days," said one girlfriend.
"When I refuse to mizithra, he goes out and buys it himself - and in bulk! Can you imagine what kind of money he's spending?" said the other girlfriend.

This will probably all sound like not so big a deal to most of my readers, but clearly for me and my girlfriends, it is. We can now draw some conclusions - among the three of us, despite our different age, socio-economic class, occupation and education, the three of us have many shared traits:
1. our families are quintessentially Greek, and their behavioural trends are more or less similar,
2. our husbands have fixed notions of what traditional Greek dishes are supposed to be made of, how they are supposed to look, what they are supposed to taste like,
3. our cooking habits are very similar,
4. we place a similar importance on ensuring that our families eat home-cooked healthy food,
5. our financial situations have changed over the last few years towards the worse.

It is this last point in particular that was really the basis of the conversation. We all know how to make a boureki, but it didn't occur to all of us how we can make it cheaply, without causing a domestic argument over the kitchen table. Differences in taste are immediately spotted by well trained eaters. Some are more open to variations, while others are not. (Look how well trained my family are, for instance: ) So you need to use all your powers of deceptiveness if you want to fool them.

It occurs to me that Cretan mizithra is difficult to find both in other parts of Greece and the rest of the world. So my latest version of the recipe for Haniotiko Boureki should prove very useful. Here are some useful tips on faking it:
- when you buy cheap ingredients, make sure to hide them in the fridge where your fussier members of the family can't see them,
- if some family members have a tendency to search the darker corners of the fridge (mine doesn't), then you should take off the packaging material and leave no label visible, repackaging the items in plain plastic bags,
- prepare meals when no one's looking,
- if anyone comments about how the meal feels/tastes/looks different to what it usually looks like, fake it even more by saying that you made it the same way that you usually do, by saying something like: "maybe the zucchini tastes different because it's out of season" (which it almost is at the moment), or "hm, the potatoes must be old" (they don't have a due by date, do they?). Just don't mention the substitutes (cheese in my boureki's case).
- if anyone insists that the boureki was made in a different way even though you say it wasn't, ask them to cook the next meal: you just provide them with the ingredients. This last one always works for me.

All over the western world, everybody's living standards are falling. So in effect, everyone is in crisis these days. Some of us are simply better at coping, like me an' my girlfriends. Just ask them.

I don't have much time these days for blog writing because I am incredibly busy at work (which basically means I am not unemployed, which is a good thing these days). I put up long posts on my facebook profile instead. Come and join me there if you like: 

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

People waiting!

All quotes and film excerpts come from "America America" (1963), by Elia Kazan, a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor.
(Watch it here:

America is having her day today. Following the rage, through the media that has overtaken the whole world concerning the US elections, I can't help feeling a little heartened that Greece is not alone in having to make a bad choice about who to elect democratically to rule the country. The US elections have been revealing to the world the Emperor who wasn't wearing any clothes. Our world is very transparent now, and we are suddenly realising that politics is about grabbing hold of power by giving people just enough of what they want so that they feel that politicians really care about them. But they are lying. Politicians really don't care about you, they just care about holding onto power, as has clearly emerged with the ruling party in Greece. The UK is also another great example: by charging along with its agenda, with complete disregard for the country's judicial system, the Conservative party is making even non-conservatives believe in them, in their own attempt to hold power. It's all a case of giving everyone just a little bit of what they want, at just the right time. But it has come at a price:
"... the day came, here in Anatolia, as every place where there is oppression, people began to question, there were bursts of violence, sudden and reckless, people began to wonder, and some to search for another homeland.

These words set the opening scene in Elia Kazan's "America America" (1963), set in 1896, in the cave dwellings of Cappadocia, in what is now modern Turkey. The United States has changed in many ways since the time period that the film was set in, but 120 years later, we find that the oppressed, like all those around the world, are again questioning, and this is accompanied by violence, while people are wondering not so much about a new homeland - we have discovered all the earthly ones - but what our homelands have become.
I'm going away... far away... to America! ... Hear me! You are my last hope.
If the world has turned full circle and everything that can be discovered has been discovered, then we have no more work to do here any longer. The working class is over - throughout the developed world, it has morphed into an employed class and an unemployed class. For perhaps the first time in a century, a lot of people are looking to the past instead of the future, in order to try to find a way out of this deadlock, and be 'great' again..
Τ’ αστέρι του βοριά θα φέρει η ξαστεριά - The clear skies will bring the star of the north
μα πριν φανεί μέσα από το πέλαγο πανί - but before it appears through the ocean, like a sheet, 
θα γίνω κύμα και φωτιά να σ’ αγκαλιάσω ξενιτιά - I'll turn into waves and fire to embrace a foreign land
Κι εσύ χαμένη μου Πατρίδα μακρινή - And you, my wasted distant homeland
θα γίνεις χάδι και πληγή σαν ξημερώσει σ’ άλλη γη - You will become a caress to the wound, as dawn rises in another land.
Can we really go back in time and let history be our guide to the future?
I don't want to be my father! I don't want to be your father! I don't want a good family life! A good family life? All those good people stay here and live in this shame! The church goers that give to the poor - they live in this shame! Respectable ones, polite ones with good manners! But I am going! No matter how! No matter! No matter! I am going!
But people have always found new solutions for all the problems that arise in the present time - as long as we have our health.
As of tomorrow, I will get one of those top hats that the Americans wear.
It's the bottom line; if you don't have that, you have nothing.
I have been beaten, robbed, shot, left for dead. I have eaten the sultan's garbage, and driven the dogs off to get at it. I became a hamal... but now I am here. Do you imagine anyone will be able to keep me out?
But you also need to have hope, and a lot more patience.
He saved himself... America America! He saved himself.

In some ways, our different worlds all seem alike now.
In some ways, it's not different here... But let me tell you one thing. You have a new chance here. For everyone that is able to get here, there is a fresh start. So get ready, you're all coming
But we continue to believe that we differ immensely form one another, and that there really is some kind of light at the end of the tunnel which will lead to utopia.
Come on, you! Let's go, you! People waiting!
We're all waiting, but we really don't know what we are waiting for.
I think you and I, all of us, have some sort of stake in the United States. If it fails, the failure will be that of us all. Of mankind itself. It will cost us all. . . . I think of the United States as a country which is an arena and in that arena there is a drama being played out. . . . . I have seen that the struggle is the struggle of free men. (Ciment, Michel (ed.) Elia Kazan: An American Odyssey, Bloomsbury Publ. U.K. (1988) p. 231; from Wikipedia)

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.