One day I will go to Greece. I say this every time I open up a cookbook full of Greek food, or eat at my favorite Greek(ish) restaurant, or see a picture of the brilliant blue water, or read a book like Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece by Patricia Volonakis Davis.
Harlot's Sauce is the current selection for Cook The Books, the virtual foodie book club I host along with Rachel, The Crispy Cook and Johanna of Food Junkie Not Junk Food, our host for this round. It's a colorful memoir about the author's experiences meeting "gorgeous Greek" Gregori and ends up marrying him, against the wishes of her Italian-American family, particularly her Sicilian father. Major clashes of culture ensue of course as the author deals with her husband's family and adjusting to life in Greece.
I like how descriptive Volonakis Davis is in her writing--especially in describing what life is like for an American expat in Greece. She has a sense of humor too, so as much as I wanted to grab her and shake her multiple times throughout the book for some of her choices, I was also able to laugh along with her. I do think that the book's tagline "A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece," should be re-ordered to be like the ingredient list on a package with the order of the "ingredients" based on the amount contained inside. There just wasn't quite as much food presence as I was looking for/wanted and it was listed first. ;-) Still, the writing was engaging, and at the end of the day, I admired the author for owning the mistakes she made and ultimately finding her voice and herself.
I was a little stuck about what to make for this round. Of course, Patricia's grandmother's (Nonnie) salsa puttanesca or "sauce of the harlot" would have been a great choice. Ultimately, I chose something simple, an Ouzo Sorbet. The book starts with the author recounting a night that she accidentally drank too much ouzo and was dropped off ("abandoned") at her hotel by (her then "lover of three months") Gregori. After a shower she finds two "uninvited guests" (ginormous winged cockroaches) in her room and panic reigns as one flies onto her pillow. I can totally relate to the horror of "B-52" roaches, also common here in Hawaii. I attended a Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's house soon after I moved here and all the doors and windows were open on a humid, rainy night. All of a sudden a half-dozen or so of the disgusting creatures flew in and started dive-bombing the table and the group of us gathered around. It was not pretty! Enough to make me want to drink a lot of ouzo, or at least enjoy it as a frozen treat. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros.
Tessa Kiros says, "This is like a soft snow, sweet and ouzo-y, and it works well after a meal--like an after-dinner mint."
Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 6 to 8)
1 cup sugar
7 Tbsp ouzo
Stir the sugar into 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool. Stir in the ouzo and transfer to an ice-cream machine. Freeze following the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, pour into a shallow baking sheet and out in the freezer, breaking it up and beating with a fork 3 or 4 times before it becomes solid.
Notes/Results: Oh this is GOOD! Sweet, refreshing, slightly licorice-esk. The nice man at the liquor store told me the "better" ouzo was worth the extra few dollars and I think he might have been right--it is very smooth. (Although I am not sure his claim of getting "less of a headache" from it is really true!) This sorbet is so simple and would be perfect either after dinner, or for a palate cleanser in between courses. This will be featured at a Greek-themed dinner party in my future. ;-)
I am sneaking this post in under the deadline once again (surprise). If you like reading, food and cooking, consider joining us for the December/January round of Cook the Books. We will be reading Outlaw Cook, a book of food essays by John and Matt Lewis Thorne, hosted by Rachel.