My father's kitchen

Without giving too much away, my father is a central figure in my book. He comes from a small rural village called Lidoriki which is in the central part of Greece known as Sterea Ellada. Mountainous and rocky, the rugged terrain is more handsome than beautiful and the climate is unforgiving: dry and sweltering in summer, snow blanketing the district in winter. It is home to the origins of Greek tragedy and the legendary city of Thebes, once ruled by King Oedipus in Sophocles’ imagined dramas. Here’s a picture of the village.


The surrounding flatlands are cultivated for wheat, legumes and olives while sheep, goats and pigs roam the paddocks and mountains. The local cuisine is home to one of Greece’s culinary traditions – a whole lamb spit roasted over glowing coals in a specially dug barbecue pit. Pites (pies) are a culinary staple, layers of pastry stuffed with cheese, foraged wild greens or vegetables.

On one of my visits to Lidoriki, I stayed with my great aunt Theia Thanasena during a freezing December. She was a spritely seventy-year-old yiayia clad in black, who rose every dawn to stoke the outdoor oven and bake the day’s bread and pites. As she clattered in the kitchen, I shivered under piles of hand-woven rugs, wiping away the tiny icicles on the tip of my nose.

One of Theia Thanesana’s specialties was prasopita – a mix of leek and feta cheese layered between sheets of filo pastry. Here’s the recipe if you’ld like to try it. Kali orexi! (or bon appétit).

  • 1kg leeks, roots trimmed
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 500g feta, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons parsley or dill, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
  • extra olive oil for brushing
  • 12 sheets filo pastry
  • round baking pan, about 35 cm

Remove the tougher upper green part of the leeks, peel away the first layer and wash. Slice the leeks thinly and sauté in 3 tablespoons olive oil for 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat. When cool, place in a mixing bowl and add the parsley (or dill) and feta. Fold in the eggs and mix well. Season with salt and paper.

Brush the baking pan with olive oil and line it with a sheet of filo. Place 5 more filo sheets over the first sheet, brushing each sheet with oil. Spread the leek filling over the filo. Cover the filling with another 6 sheets of filo, each one brushed with olive oil

Fold the ends of filo sheets sheet inward, sprinkle with water and score the pita into individual serves. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 Celsius for 1 hour or until golden. Serve hot or cold.