My Greek Cooking Class at the Myconian Spiti


My Greek Cooking Class at the Myconian Spiti

Bobbie Wanzo

In September, my best friend and I traveled to Greece with Advantage International, LLC.  There were many special moments on this incredible trip.  Touring the Acropolis and the Island of Delos (in Greek mythology, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis), climbing to the top of Mount Lycabettus to the serene chapel of St. George, seeing the majestic and breathtaking views from the Armenistis lighthouse, sampling superb and mouth-watering Greek food, meeting wonderful people – just to name a few.

One of the highlights of my trip, however, was attending a cooking class at the Myconian Spiti. “Spiti” means “home” in Greek. The hostess and teacher for this class was Teta. The class was arranged for me by Mr. Panos Doufekoulas, a Manager at the Myconian Royal.

Transportation to and from the Myconian Spiti was part of the class registration and added to the total ambiance and atmosphere of this experience.  The class was scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. (6 hours)

While I was excited about the opportunity to attend a cooking class in Greece, I had no idea what to expect. When I arrived, Teta opened the door and warmly invited me into her home.  I immediately felt that I was visiting the home of a family member or friend.  She graciously escorted me into the dining room where the other guests were seated.  There were eight other individuals attending this particular class.  After learning a bit about her guests, she served a beautiful Mèze plate which consisted of cucumbers, tomatoes sprinkled with herbs, olives, louza – thinly sliced dried pork, Kopanista cheese, and Dakos (dried bread).

The aperitif was a shot of Raki (100 % alcohol).  Teta explained that in Greece, there are three traditional liquids – Ouzo, Raki, and Tsipouro.  Raki is made from the skin of grapes.

While we enjoyed the delicious items presented, Teta enthusiastically spoke to us about food’s relevance in Greek history and the importance of the family meal in the Greek home. We donned our aprons and followed Teta into the kitchen for further instruction.

Teta shared many stories about Greek culinary traditions which included recipes from her Grandmother.  As we learned about the various Greek ingredients, she spoke of the connection between the origin and preparation of Greek food, past, and present.

One of the phrases Teta continued to repeat as we prepared the designated dishes was No throw away”.   In other words, you do not throw anything away. Everything has value.  This is something that I was taught as I spent hours in the kitchen with my Mother and Grandmother.  Listening intently, I began to notice certain similarities in cooking philosophies and I realized that we are all more alike than we are different.

Teta shared some “No throw away” examples with us, such as using the remaining liquid from the spinach mixture to cook the spinach rice and using pieces of Phyllo dough left from the Spanakopita to decorate the spinach pie or to make individual triangle servings.

Under Teta’s direction, the class completed three dishes – Tsatziki, Spanakopita, and Tomatoes stuffed with a Rice mixture.  She included additional items to complete the full Greek family meal experience – Beef with Orzo, Greek salad, and Spinach flavored rice.

After the dishes were ready to be eaten, we gathered around the beautifully appointed family table to partake of the wonderful spread and great conversation. The wine served at dinner was White and Rose from Crete.

At the end of the meal our hostess surprised us with a dessert of yogurt and homemade cherry and grape preserves. She lightly drizzled the preserves over dollops of yogurt.  She mentioned that when someone comes to your home, you might offer them a small portion of this and say “Welcome sweet in my home”.

This was the end of an unforgettable experience.  Teta imparted her passion and love of Greece’s rich culture to the class.  I left the Myconian Spiti with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Greek culinary traditions.

BW  09/30/2018