My Messinia

Messinian dumplings &Songs around the Table

IMG_9912mm A few years back I was commissioned by Costa Navarino Resort to create events for their then newborn “Messinian Authenticity” program. I embraced this project with enthusiasm. It gave me the opportunity to emerge myself in the local history and culture. I tried not to repeat the ideas which have circulated for decades in other Mediterranean countries and regions but to create events based or inspired by original indigenous “material”. Of course considering that Messinia is an olive tree valley and has many vineyards too nice “classical” events such as olive harvesting or wine tasting and vineyards events had to be honored too. Some of the more unusual event ideas were accepted and produced some are still waiting to take form.

One of those original events has been “Songs around the Table”. The idea came to me from a common practice women had in the old days to sing as they prepared the food. The song kept them company and the more women were in the kitchen the more singing was going on. Music and lyrics are innate love of the Greek people and the size of the Greek song anthology is mind blowing…and I mean the anthology of great musical and lyrical value.IMG_9868mmIMG_9978mmIMG_9887mmIMG_9975mmIMG_9957mmIMG_9876mmIMG_9891mmIMG_0040mmIMG_9892mmIMG_9775mmIMG_0059mmIMG_0061mm
I was fortunate to stumble upon a small village of Glyfada, counting 200 inhabitants, situated close to the mountain range surrounded by olive trees and vineyards were there was a group of women who besides being neighbors were also very good friends and who besides being very food friends were also very good singers and who besides being very good singers cared about the traditions deeply enough to give much of their time to the preparation of this event. We were meeting over the whole winter and choosing songs, a mixture of very popular ones with those unknown or forgotten, rehearsing them and then coordinating the cooking part with the singing part. We decided to chose a Messinian dish which could be prepared simultaneously by many hands and cooked and served within one hour. We chose to cook “boukies” which literally means “little bites” a pasta dish which resembles the Italian gnocchi but is prepared only with the use of flour, milk and egg and olive oil.
Our meetings and rehearsals took place in the very well curated “Museum of Folk Art and Local history” which is located in the very village.I had as great time with Gogo, Katerina, Georgia, Emilia, Dina, Maria and Maria working on the event as much as presenting it.
I wanted to share with you my experience of making and tasting my first boukies which in that case, besides flour, milk, egg etc had also over 20 songs sung a Capella as an indispensable ingredient in their recipe.

Messinian “boukies” recipe
Ingredients:
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 2 kg flour
  • 200 ml milk
  • 200ml water
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • grated myzithra* cheese (can be replaced by similar tasting cheeses such as parmesan or pecorino romano)
Cooking instructions**:
  • Beat the eggs. Pour 1 kg of flour into a bowl and add beaten eggs, milk and water.
  • Knead the dough. Add slowly more flour and continue kneading till the mixture is smooth, soft and does not stick to your fingers
  • Once the dough is ready rub your hand with olive oil and start making long thin sticks by rolling the pieces of dough.
  • Cut the sticks into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces and press them with a finger in the middle hard so a groove is formed. The edges of the piece should fold around by itself
  • Sprinkle the ready pieces with flour so they do not stick together…
  • Refrigerate, freeze or cook them
  • Cooking requires a boiling water with some salt and a spoon of olive oil
  • Boil for about 20 min until soft
  • Take them out of the water, sprinkle with some grated myzithra or any hard white cheese
  • Heat some olive oil, put 3 spoons of myzithra into the heated oil till it turns a little “blushed” and pour the mixture of scorching olive oil flavour with myzithra over the boukies
Myzithra or Mizythra is a traditional unpasteurised Greek cheese made from the whey of sheep’s, goats or cow’s milk cheeses. It has been made in Greece for thousands of years and is believed to be the ancestor of all Greek whey cheeses. 
** Do not forget to sing as you cook!!!

 

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Oh, I was about to forget …besides being neighbors, friends, good singers, great chefs and traditions loving people they are also great dancers….IMG_1017mm

I would love to hear from you!
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