Interview With A Food Blogger: Meet Syllia from 30 Days of Greek Food
Welcome to another edition of Interview with a food blogger! Today we’re chatting with Syllia behind the blog 30 Days of Greek Food. We love Syllia’s blog because she shares authentic Mediterranean Greek family recipes for home-cooked family food. Her blog is a great place to find meal ideas and background information about Greek food that you and your family will love!
1. What is the story behind your blog’s name?
My love for delicious home-made food served on a Greek family table was the initial idea behind my blog. However, Greek food isn’t only delicious. It is healthy too. In fact, it is the prototype for the famous Mediterranean Diet, one of the world’s healthiest diet. So, I thought that it was an excellent idea to go beyond traditional Greek recipes and create a supportive, judgement-free community where everyone can learn all about the traditional Greek diet. The visitors will be forming new habits fit with the demands of their life and breaking old ones at their own pace. The goal is to become a natural at planning, prepping, cooking real food, the Mediterranean way. This is a huge and complicated project, and I am still working on it! For the time being, you may find mostly traditional Greek recipes.
2. What is your favorite Greek family dish?
Pies! My family craves traditional Greek pies. The real thing, with the crispy homemade phyllo. Our favorite is spinach pie, and I am so glad that it is my most popular recipe on the blog right now. Pies are a huge chapter in Greek cuisine and it is even an understatement to say that Greeks love their pies. What not to like? It’s the perfect all-day meal: a quick, nutritional breakfast, snack, lunch box and a delicious dinner along with a salad. It’s up to you to decide. If I have a busy week ahead of me, I usually make a huge spinach pie that lasts 3-5 days. Here you can find the recipe: https://30daysofgreekfood.com/the-real-traditional-greek-spinach-pie/
3. What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook, a blog…?
I believe inspiration can come in many different forms. I get inspired by almost everything and everyone around me but first and foremost by my family and friends. I follow truly inspiring food bloggers and I admire their creativity and passion. I’m inspired by the seasons and the produce I find in open air market near my place. The colors never fail to get me excited. I watch food channels, I read cookbooks, magazines and I scroll through Instagram and Pinterest for hours. Travelling and eating out are two excellent –my favorite- ways to taste new dishes and admire food styling not only from talented chefs but from local cooks.
4. What part of Greece are you from, What’s the best food you tried there?
Both my parents originate from the Peloponnese, in southern mainland Greece. Like everywhere in Greece, the best food is basically a peasant-style, abundant in whatever nature provides and human hand makes. Their brilliant way of cooking and the respect of the ingredients would have amazed the most experienced contemporary chef.
Allow me to give you an example and take you a trip back in the 1960s in my father’s mountain village. The winter is extremely harsh and all crop and produce are gone. The spring is yet to come. Imagine all you got for dinner is flour, eggs, olive oil and dairy products like sheep milk, animal fat, and cheese. No electricity, no stores around. All you have is your land, your hands, and mind. Will you face starvation or will you find the best way to use up these ingredients? That’s how delicious dishes like Tsouhti, a traditional 4-ingredient homemade pasta came to light. It is an exquisite signature dish not only of the Peloponnese area but of the entire Greek way of eating: a celebration of delicious, nutritional food. You can find the recipe here: https://30daysofgreekfood.com/simplest-traditional-greek-pasta/
5. What should every foodie try in Greece?
If you are a foodie, Greece is your paradise on earth. Food wise, I would suggest to stay off the beaten path and go beyond the usual duo “souvlaki and moussaka”. Before your travel, do research about the traditional dishes and other special products of the region you are about to visit. Do you know that over 100 Greek products have been officially registered as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)? This means that wherever you go in Greece, unique dishes and products are waiting for you.
Avoid tourist food traps where the food is really sad and ask the locals where you can find a place that serves traditional Greek food. From the fishermen on the harbor to the people swimming or shopping next to you, everyone will be more than eager to help you. Go and drink Greek coffee in traditional cafés called “kafenio” where you find the most authentic people, ready to communicate with you even if they don’t speak your language. A few pleasantries and a handful of well-rehearsed questions will be enough for you to hit local hidden gastronomic gems.
6. What is your dream destination regarding food in Greece?
Do I have to pick just one? Because it is so hard to choose. I decided to close my eyes and recall the very first best food experience I had in Greece. There it was. A cold, rainy winter afternoon, a few days before Christmas, in a small isolated mountain village in Crete, Rethimno area. A cozy “kafenio” (a traditional old-fashion café) heated only by an old, wood heater giving the impression that time has stopped in 1960s. A table full of the best Cretan delicacies: local cheese and fresh homemade bread, amanites (fried mushroom), staka (a rich creamy dip), chochlioi (pan-seared snails), apaki (smoked pork), askordoulaki (pickled bulbs), sfakiani pita (sweet, savory pie) washed down with the finest raki. A dream destination regarding food should not be merely food related. It’s the whole approach. It’s the food. It’s the location. It’s the social interaction. Several interrelated factors that make your dinner a once in a lifetime experience.
7. What’s your go-to kid-friendly recipe?
I am the proud (and exhausted) mother of two hyper-active, 5 and 10 year-old boys. My older one is going to be either the next top Greek basketball player or a famous guitar player in a rock band. Or both. He cannot make up his mind yet. My younger one loves drawing and climbing. His art is visible everywhere in the house and I mean everywhere! The rest of the time we try to convince him to come down from trees, walls etc. Our house is quite lively, for sure. It is crazy most of the time but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Then I call them to the kitchen and serve them my mini pita bread hand pies. At last! A few minutes of silence (Just kidding). They love this recipe because it is basically a hand-held mini feta cheese pie with the veggies I want to use up. I highly recommend it for kids! It is the perfect breakfast and lunch box too. Here you can find the recipe: https://30daysofgreekfood.com/mini-pita-bread-hand-pies-with-feta-cheese/
8. If you had to share one kid’s favorite Greek recipe with us, what would you choose?
It would definitely be Ladenia (or ladopita), a traditional recipe from the island of Kimolos. For me, it is the Greek vegan pizza. A thinly spread out dough, topped with onions, tomatoes and olive oil. Actually, a lot of olive oil which justifies its name ladopita (lado=oil + pita=pie). My kids usually fight over the last piece. You an find the recipe here: https://30daysofgreekfood.com/mediterranean-olive-oil-flatbread/
9. According to you, which place is Greece has the best food?
So hard to tell. Every place in Greece has something special to offer. However, if I had to name only one, this would be Crete. Cretan cuisine is the sanctuary for foodies. The island’s geophysical and cultural diversity creates a unique mosaic of memorable experiences. People there take the time to produce their own dairy (cheese, yoghurt), honey, wine, olive oil and that’s how the visitor enjoys quality food in almost every corner of the island. Additionally, Crete is a leading agritourism destination, so I would highly recommend staying with your family in a traditional village. You will meet local people, enjoy their unique hospitality, learn about their culinary traditions and participate in their cultural events and rural activities like making local cheese, baking rusks in traditional wood ovens, taking part in the cauldron feasts (the procedure of making the Cretan rakí) or in the olive harvest.
10 – We noticed that you have a vegan moussaka on your blog. Lots of people are coming to Greece asking us tips for vegan/ gluten-free food or nut allergy safe option. Can you share any insight or can you share a nice recipe in this category?
Most people don’t know about it but the Greek way of eating is, in essence, a vegetarian and even a vegan one. No, Greeks don’t eat souvlaki and moussaka every day and stay healthy until 100. They follow the traditional Greek fasting diet for almost 200 days out of the year, excluding meat, fish and animal products (except for animals that don’t contain blood like shrimp, octopus etc). The most faithful Orthodox Christians abstain even from consuming olive oil every Wednesday and Friday throughout the year. The need to add variety for all those days of fasting is one important factor (among others) that Greek cuisine contains hundreds of vegetarian and vegan traditional recipes. That being said, vegetarians and vegans will find countless ways to enjoy Greek food. For instance, the Greek white bean soup called fasolada is a super comforting vegan dish and not a surprise to be considered Greece’s National Food. Here is the recipe: https://30daysofgreekfood.com/greek-white-bean-soup-fasolada-lemon-tomato/
Thank you Syllia, we are all hungry now!
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