inspired by the Greek 80’s
Greece in the 80s, what was it like? There is an exhibition running in the center of Athens, at Technopolis, dedicated to this bittersweet decade, focusing on contemporary life, from politics to architecture – with a wonderful reconstruction of an urban 80s household – to music, fashion and toys. There were a couple of talks on food and I admit I didn’t get a chance to pop by. But the exhibition in itself is a great opportunity to retrospect and of course, cook. There is Campari and blood orange jelly!
Head straight to the recipe.
My personal experience from this decade can contribute little to this post, I spent the best part of it in nappies. My memory is as pixelly as the snow TV signal which was slowly changing to colour. My early years were in a closely knit Greek household: my gran living just next door, and I essential grew up in two houses instead of one. There was a lot of Kazantzidis music playing from grandpas vinyls, fighting for space against my louder teenage uncles’ music that was ranging from rock to metal. I remember the noisy dice falling on the backgammon board on sunny afternoons, with shaken iced instant coffee – the all famous frappé on the side (I had the privilege to shake the beverage from an early age). I remember the treats that grandpa would bring every Friday after work. A bag dangling on the side of his bicycle, full of shiny packages to share with my sis. But what were we eating back then?
I know for certain I was a miserable eater. My menu was alternating between snitchel, fried potatoes (patates tiganites in Greek) and soutzoukakia that made the top of my list. These I would enjoy with reverence when not running around. I don’t remember any fancy dishes but mum came to the rescue, with a short but far more accurate report.
‘Well, there was not anything fancy… For the holidays the classics were always there. We would bring out the cook books for a special occasion, French specialities would come forward – Think fillet mignon with mushrooms and cream. I loved to decorate with curly lettuce and radishes curved into flowers, there was the hedgehog trend for parties: pinned squares of Roquefort, hams and pineapples. A type of soufflé with bread. And jelly!’
I don’t know how much you like jelly, for me its synonymous to summer breeze and metallic sounds from tiny spoons digging into glasses, frost forming on the sides. Jelly was – still is- a quick fix to cool down from the summer heat. I can’t say I’m too enthusiastic with jelly anymore, the texture is too plasticky to consider it real food. Nevertheless, jelly is an unsung hero that still follows us during the summer, a quick treat out of a pack. It wasn’t the only thing that came out of the pack and proudly populated the 80s supermarket shelves. Along with jelly you could find powdered mash potatoes sachets to make in an instant, whipped cream in spray bottles and the cakes would come out of a pack and put together at home. Urban life was getting busier, lots of new trinkets entered the shelves, but it seems we were not in a huge rush to adopt them.
It’s interesting to see that back in the 80’s home cooking based on seasonal, local ingredients was the norm and it is now trending in most foodie communities. Surely new products came into our culinary habits. Going out to pizza restaurants and burger joints was all the rage, but every day cooking was a much simpler affair. Gran’s and mum’s daily menu would be traditional and most importantly seasonal with extra homeliness on the side. There were older habits as well that were much more common then, than now. Picking the olives from the garden olive trees in autumn and preserving them at home would be pretty standard. The plump vinegary olives would come out to join the bean soup or the chickpea soup in cold winter days. I still remember grandpa getting upset at gran for getting tomatoes in winter: ‘but don’t you know they are not in season?’ he would mumble. They knew better to respect the seasons, produce would be ten times more tasty when the time was ripe. We were looking forward to May for strawberries and cherries in early June. Then it would be the apricots and later the peaches. And guess what happened to these during the 80s? All fruit dived in jelly!
It’s impossible to separate jelly from the 80’s. My jelly has no fruit, I much prefer it on the side. It is a boozy treat with Campari and deep red blood oranges. A very grown up version, bittersweet to reflect back in the 80s and very refreshing to finish off a meal.
- 220 sugar
- 250 water
- 500 ml blood orange juice
- 1 tbsn gelatin granules or 6 leaves of gelatin
- 125 ml Campari
How to make it:
- Add the sugar and water in the pot and simmer until the syrup sets (7-8 minutes). Let it cool down and reach room temperature.
- Add the blood orange juice.
- If you are using gelatin granules, dissolve in a couple of spoonfulls of cold water; if you are using the leaves soak in cold water for 10 minutes and remove squeezing out most of the moisture. (check package instructions as well).
- Once gelatin of choice is ready add to the syrup juice mixture.
- Add Campari, stir and place in a glass or wherever you want to serve it in. Leave in the fridge to set, it normally takes about 5-6 hours, even better if you leave it overnight. Great to accompany with fresh fruit.
Of course I am not alone in this post. Along with fellow food bloggers we decided to go to a trip down memory lane and make a dish inspired from the 80’s. Have a look below:
Aggeliki from Cookika made a gateau. (Greek only)
Katerina from Delightful Area made chicken with orange. (Greek only)
Elena from Elena is cooking made prawns cocktail. (Greek only)
Ioanna from Food Junkie made mushroom vol-au-vents. (Greek only)
Eleni from The Foodie corner made retro fish salad with mayonnaise, aka athinaiki.
Dora from Pandora’s Kitchen made crème caramel (Greek only)
Evi from The Healthy Cook made tomato and egg jelly.
Ksanthi from Οι συνταγές της Ασπρούλας is writing about the buffet of the ’80’s and she made devilled eggs. (Greek only)
from Athens with love,
PS If you haven’t been at the gr80s exhibition in Gazi, give it a go. It’s on until the 12 of March 17, more info here.by