Monday, June 30, 2008

Greek Mythology

“I’m Good, I’m Gone (Fred Falke Remix)” by Lykke Li

Perhaps it is not so obvious that I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Greece--Athens, specifically, as well as some of its neighboring beaches and Aegina, one of the Saronic Islands--slideshow to the right notwithstanding. My appreciation for Greek Mythology has grown rapidly, exploded actually…insomuch as I tasted foods befitting the gods. I witnessed the turn of humankind in architecture still standing after two thousand years, and marveled at its breathtaking tenacity. I walked cozied narrow streets lined with inviting shops, al fresco dining, and ivy-covered townhomes, and was greeted with a friendly smile or wave. I ate dinner after 9:30 p.m. virtually every night, and followed the dining with drinking and being merry until the early morning hours. I even enjoyed the company of a Greek god who showed me his country from a very different perspective (thank you, Dimitris).

Yes, the pleasures of Greece come in so many unexpected (and some very expected) packages.

One of the more unexpected packages was in this soup, perfect to enjoy when returning home from a night of too much being merry, with lemon juice and chicken and rice, that was so satisfying. I’ve scoured the Internet looking for a recipe so that I can replicate what I enjoyed, but none of them seem to bring about what I believe my experience to have been. Finally, I stumbled upon one purely by happenstance.

I was looking on for more versions of the recipe, and, again, I came across a version that seemed to miss the mark, but I noticed over 60 reviews of the recipe. Thinking this to be impossible, I started reading the reviews. ‘Lo and behold, one of the early reviewers, a first-generation Greek American from Boston, had graciously reviewed the soup, and then put in her yia-yia’s (her grandmother’s) recipe that she’s been making for years. Every one of the positive reviews was on HER version of the soup, the version embedded in another review. I read it, and I think I have found what I experienced in Greece. I’ve supplied it below…in case you want to have an acute, very Greek, religious experience (granted, without Dimitris).

Soupa Avgolemono

8 c. homemade chicken stock
1 c. orzo
4 eggs/separated
juice of 3 lemons
fresh ground black pepper

Boil broth, add orzo and simmer until tender 20 min. Whip whites until medium peaks, add yolks beating continuously, add juice, beating. Temper eggs with 2 c. broth, adding in constant slow stream while continuing to beat furiously so you do not curdle the eggs. Add egg mixture back to remaining broth and serve. When reheating, do not re-boil - heat slowly until very warm or you may curdle the eggs. Garnish with thinly sliced lemon. Try adding more than the juice of 3 lemons, as the sourness is the best part of the taste! You should taste lemon, richness of eggs, salt of chicken, and starch of rice, in that order and you've made it perfectly. You can also add thin pieces of shredded chicken meat (pull off bone in strips), although classic recipes don't include chicken, vegetables, garlic or any other ingredients.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


“Koop Island Blues” by Koop

Ah, summer. I love this time of year. If I could take anything with me when I eventually leave the southern California coast, I would most certainly take the summer, with its perfect weather and bronzed skin, its beach volleyball and strong sangria, its play of innocence and prey on innocence, all shoved into my suitcase. It is just this kind of summer that provides the perfect excuse to lower inhibitions and commit some sort of scandal.

And what besides too much sangria, you ask, begets a scandal?

Perhaps a smile that is just a little too confident or a look at a most (in)opportune time, and a door with a questionable lock coupled with the anticipation of being discovered. Oh, YES! Don’t STOP!

Or perhaps it’s having a secret---a really, big, fat, brazen secret that you are not at liberty to share with others, and yet someone keeps pressing you for the details, the juicy, memorable, self destructive details. Here, let me get you another glass of that, they say as they smile and pour with that flash of perfect white teeth.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s you knowing full well that you are actually guilty, completely guilty, and, without question, you would commit your sin again…and again…and again.

And then the slightest twinkle appears and that knowing look is shared as the door eases shut.


My season opener, last weekend, was just this sort of unforgiving and unrelenting scandal. I was swallowed up, chewed verociously to unrecognizable, and spit out on to the shore of reason with a moral compass suddenly hanging around my neck like that infamous albatross of yore. Could I blame the extra glass of sangria? Most likely. Would I relive this past weekend? Most certainly.

Too Much Strong Summer Sangria

1 part red wine
1 part cranberry juice
1 part orange-flavored liqueur
1 part rum
Chopped apples, cored
Sliced oranges, with rinds

Mix everything together. Let the mixture marinate at room temperature for a few hours. Chill. Serve straight up or over ice. Drink more than you should.