‘It’s All Greek to Me!’ is an English expression that means how far beyond our understanding some ideas are. Originally it referred to the Greek language as typifying foreign communication that used a script Europeans were unable to understand. For Sara Youssef and her family, it’s starting to mean something else!
Until a couple of weeks ago, Sara thought of herself and her family as Lebanese-Australian. That was until Lina Jebeile aka @thelebaneseplate suggested she get involved in Recipes for Ramadan and she started to look into her grand-parents Greek heritage.
Sara knew her maternal grandparents were of Greek heritage but she didn’t know much if anything at all about their history nor had she ever tried cooking her grandparents favourite Greek recipes. She literally has her teeth into both now, discovering her great-great-grandparents’ story.
“Last night my grandparents were over and the stories they told were so mesmerising!
We confirmed their families fled from the Greek island of Crete during the Greco-Turkish war of 1897, a war fought between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire over control of Crete. My great grandmother on my mother’s side was just a baby. I researched all night about this particular war and how it affected the ‘Muslim Cretens’.
My mother knew of another family who also fled to Lebanon and have a descendant who wrote a book in memory of his late father about the war and his family’s journey afterwards. This book outlines that period in history and according to my parents and grandparents describes their ancestors’ experiences very well. I’m now in the process of having the book translated into English so that it doesn’t remain lost to future generations.
In regards to ‘Creten Foods’, my grandmother mentioned three particular recipes which are favourites of hers and my grandfathers and their parents and grandparents. I had completely forgotten how much I absolutely loved one of those dishes as I grew up. It’s called ‘Fava’. The other two are desserts called ‘Borichi’ and ‘Catumerja’. My grandparents both love these desserts very much as they remind them of their grandparents.
Now here’s the strange thing, both of the desserts are absolutely nowhere to be found on the internet. I’ve tried so hard to find them by name and even changing the spelling, they cannot be found. I’m fascinated to think that these two recipes seem to have been lost in time but my grandparents remember them very well as dishes cooked by both their grandparents and parents.
I’m thinking it could be possible that the names of these dishes may have changed over time – so now I’m making time to dig deep into Greek recipe books to find similar ones to compare to my family’s. 🤣
Sorry for the lengthy text, just so excited with how much I’ve learnt in such a short period of time. Thank you for encouraging me!”
Sara’s unfolding family story and three Greek recipes honouring her grandparents will be published on www.RecipesForRamadan.com over the next few weeks.