2011 Update: The account below is from one of our newsletters of previous years. The cooking workshop as described is no longer offered.
Our island, Paros, is known for a huge variety of activity and a diverse population--something for everyone--but would you believe a Dutchman who teaches classes in English on how to cook Greek food? Since I am a food lover, and always interested in finding new local recipes, I wanted to find out more about this culinary discovery.
The very next day, I met with Eddy and his wife, Louise, over an ouzo at a beachside taverna in Aliki. He told me a bit about himself, how he came to Paros, and what helped him decide to create this cooking school. He loves to cook and people love to eat his food. Many times they told him he ought to teach others his "secret". Well, Eddy had at that time, only a 2 burner cooker, and had to cook his meals in one or two pots. So, he started making Greek food "his way", which is not really different, except he does not use an oven, he slow cooks on top of the stove. Since this is the food that everyone loved so much, he decided to not change it, but to continue this simple, but delicious way of cooking. He stresses that they are Greek recipes, but adapted to his style.
I found it all very intriguing and had to see for myself how it all came together. He encouraged me to come up the next day, as he was just finishing up a week long class. I gladly accepted!
Eddy met me at the taverna in his 4 wheel drive jeep. He had just come from the local market, and had bags full of fresh tomatoes, onions, lettuce, aubergines and a variety of assorted peppers. "Everything must be fresh,” he emphasised. He told me that part of the earlier class instruction was to go to the open air market in Parikia and learn how to select the best vegetables from the local farmers. As we headed to his farmhouse he pointed up further into the mountains where he takes the class to identify and pick Greek herbs....sage, thyme and oregano. The basil he uses is grown by his wife, plus they also had a prolific caper bush growing out of a stone wall! They use only local olive oil.
The trip to Eddy's house was up a winding dirt road with a bird's eye view of the sea below and other islands in the distance. Absolutely and incredibly beautiful! He told me a bit about how he and Louise found this old farmhouse in a very rundown condition. They took one look at the view and "knew" that no matter how much work it would take to make this farmhouse a home, they were going to do it. And do it they did! Louise has worked magic in the flower gardens, making the various patios full of colour and very inviting. Eddy is a craftsman as well, and together they have made a very comfortable and workable place to live and share with others.
On our arrival, the four students were waiting and ready to go. Eddy likes to start early in the afternoon around 2:00 PM. First he introduces the new recipe, giving everyone a copy. The class is very informal, and people laugh and share their thoughts, talking about the new recipe, the ingredients and the full menu. As this is the last day, the class will be making several dishes they had previously learned. Eddy has found a few extra 2 burner stoves, so everyone has an assigned dish. I then discovered that tonight's dinner was going to be shared with some invited guests! A real party!
The students got busy with their various duties, and I walked around the grounds. Eddy and Louise have a lot of land on a hillside complete with fruit trees, olive trees, a garden plot, and trails for walking. From every angle the view was exceptional...but I really fell in love with the picnic table under the olive trees...AND the marble table on the patio with flowering bougainvillea all around. Eddy told me that most days they eat under the olive trees, but that this particular evening we would eat on the patio with candlelight!
The smells were wafting on the breezes, the cat was sleeping on a pillow on the chaise lounge, and happy voices came out of the kitchen. I peeked in a few times just to see how this class took place, but mostly I lounged outside with a glass of wine and Louise's company. "Eddy is the cook" she told me, "and I am the gardener!"
As the sun fell, and the lights started to twinkle below, our guests arrived. The students had completed several dishes, some hot and some cold. They had set the tables, and were eager to show off a week's worth of lessons!
The ending is certainly worth mentioning. For the guests, I am sure it was the best part of their day. They were very happy, contented and full--with lots of comments on how delicious everything was. The students had big smiles, but the biggest was on Eddy's face. He loves to help his students learn how to make great food, letting them in on some "secrets" for success, but most of all he loves knowing his guests leave wanting to come back for more of "Eddy's food"!
When the students leave they have learned to select the best from the local farmers market, how to identify and pick herbs and make at least 10-12 different dishes; not least is making new friends, and sharing it all with others. Their final reward is a cookbook with all the recipes for future reference.
by Karin Shepherd
2012 Update: We now have a new cooking workshop to offer.
We also have villas in Aliki that include olive oil and vegetables grown by the owners. Eat healthy, relax, have fun = live longer. Read more
Another culinary discovery is a delightful recipe book full of Greek island
watercolours. Read about The Greek Taverna
Recipe Book by Gill Tomlinson
Another culinary discovery is a delightful recipe book full of Greek island watercolours. Read about The Greek Taverna Recipe Book by Gill Tomlinson