Photographs

Ejo #121 – Dogs Of Dubai

My family has always been dog people.  We just love dogs, god damn it.  We’ve tried other pets along the way, of course.  Finches, fish, a mouse, a turtle I found in the garden (for about two days, anyway, before my grandfather set it free).  After one of my sister’s school projects, we ended up with a chicken called Tok Tok, which faithfully laid us a double yolked egg every single day until we came home from school one afternoon to be told that Tok Tok had been taken to a farm to live out her retirement years.  If memory serves correctly, we had roast chicken for dinner that night.  There is no correlation between these two events, whatsoever.  I once found a feral kitten in the gutter outside our house and somehow coerced it into my bedroom.  I spent the entire night fighting the damn thing off my face.

e130199d-b94f-4338-a62e-d386b0ad7e12

Psycho Kitty.

We kept Kitty for a while, the entire family nursing cuts and bites and scratches for the duration, but Kitty was not meant for domesticity and after a couple of years she obviously found a better home and settled down with her new family (the only logical explanation for why she disappeared without a trace, and no further discussion on the matter is necessary).

But for the Stathopoulos family, our hearts have always belonged to dogs.  I don’t think I need to point this out, but I will anyway.  Dogs are special.  Scientists have shown that dogs have a unique ability to love, not just human beings, but all other species (depending on how early they are exposed to them).  When a dog looks into my eyes, or licks my hand lovingly, or lays it’s paw on my foot or even just leans against me – my heart explodes with love.  If yours doesn’t, I’m afraid there must be something terribly wrong with you.  Please go and see a doctor immediately.

Our first dog wasn’t even ours.  Joshua was a farm dog from the property next to our holiday house in Cape Schanck, but over the years, he lovingly adopted us to (the bemusement of his farmer owner).  He was our first taste of how loyal and loving and fun a dog could be.

caf3febe-34e5-4bc9-8ce9-09105843286d

Joshua teaching me how to drive.

Our family loved Joshua so much we decided to get a full time dog of our own and ended up with a Rhodesian Ridgeback St. Bernard cross called Duchess.  She was a big, imposing dog, and she had a big heart to match.  She was definitely our Dad’s dog, but she loved us all and we loved her back.

01

Duchess slow-dancing with my Dad.

f8f89dcc-06ac-4af0-a8d2-8c25dd1733de

Pieta and Duchess being cute together.

A few years after Duchess died, we braved another pet and got a beautiful pure-bred Doberman called Jessica.  Her tail had already been cruelly clipped when we picked her out, but thankfully we got to her before they snipped her beautiful, velvety floppy ears.  Despite looking like a very scary attack dog, Jessica was a gentle soul who would never hurt a fly.  She could, however, turn on a deep, throaty growl when she felt it was necessary and she owned a bark that would scare off the most determined burglar.  When Jessica died, our whole family was heartbroken and my parents decided that was it.  No more Stathopoulos family pets.  The loss was just too painful.

c6bcb2d8-2361-4b06-8b60-149b4c98969d

Jessica and her ball.

Both of my sisters, however, had been bitten by the doggy bug and about a year or so after Jessica died, they both adopted dogs of their own.  Mari brought home an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Barnaby.  And Pieta co-parented a Staffordshire called Subby with her best friend.  

03

Pieta and Subby.

282c9681-8eb5-452e-ab1e-fbddd148c73e

Mari and Barnaby.

Sadly, Barnaby and Subby have moved onto the great kennel in the sky, but they were both very loved members of the Stathopoulos family.  They are both buried in our Mum’s backyard now, which is perhaps a little weird (since the house is no longer ours) but also kinda wonderful that their final resting place is the family home.

Over the years, I’ve always felt a strong desire to add a puppy to my life but sadly, shift work isn’t really conducive to owning a pet, and neither is our tendency to travel as much as possible.  My love of dogs runs deep but I am not so selfish as to subject an animal to a life of solitude in an apartment, interrupted only by regular visits to a kennel.  The answer to my pet dilemma in Dubai has turned out to be K9 Friends, a doggie shelter in an industrial area, near the port of Dubai.  K9 Friends is a non-profit organisation, founded more than 30 years ago, that rescues abandoned dogs (which is a huge problem in Dubai, sadly).  K9 Friends’ ultimate goal is to re-home all the dogs they rescue, but sometimes dogs end up staying with them for years, which is so devastatingly sad.  I do think what they do is amazing though, because if it wasn’t for them, most of these dogs would end up being euthanised.

Obviously, being a volunteer organisation, they rely on donations and the kindness of dog lovers who generously donate their time to looking after the dogs as well as taking care of the administration side of things.  They tend to have about 120-130 dogs kenneled at any one time, so as you can imagine that’s a whole lot of work (as well as a whole lot of poop that needs to be regularly collected).  If you love dogs and want to help, but aren’t able to adopt (or foster) a puppy there are a couple of other ways you can assist.  You can directly sponsor a dog (or a kennel), and that’s something that David and I would like to get involved with.  Each dog costs about 5000dhs a year to house (this includes vet costs, food, grooming etc).  The shelter is happy to accept any amount donation, and every cent helps.  Another way to help out is to take a dog out for the day,  It really is the next best thing to taking a doggo home permanently.

K9’s walking programme has turned out to be perfect for David and me.  In the last month we have taken three wonderful dogs out for the day.  It’s been such a treat to once again have some canine love in our lives, and I’ve really enjoyed having dogs in the house for a few hours a day (even though they’re not all necessarily completely toilet trained).  I also hope that the dogs have enjoyed a break from the shelter as well.  It really is a win-win situation for everyone.  If you live in Dubai and are a dog-lover, I would so highly recommend that you get involved with K9 Friends and take a beautiful, loving dog out for the day.  You never know, you might just end up with a friend for life.

02

My favourite of the dogs we took home, Cranberry was found in an abandoned warehouse in an industrial part of town. Look at that face!!!!

10

As soon as we brought him home, Cranberry decided he would move into our storage room.  Whenever he got a bit nervous, he would run back in there and crouch down in the corner, in the dark.

09

It makes me so sad to think about what Cranberry experienced earlier in his life to make him be such a nervous, timid puppy.

04

Cranberry and his new daddy. ❤

07

Whilst he was very shy and timid, Cranberry loved going for a walk and meeting other dogs and people.

IMG_3576

Flower’s a slightly older dog who has given birth to loads of puppies before being neutered at K9.  She was a really quiet dog, and even though she was sociable with us, she wasn’t exactly affectionate.

IMG_3578

Flower had a tendency to just sit still, almost as if trying to become invisible.

IMG_3582

Flower loved going out for a walk.

IMG_3593

I really loved it when Flower came and wanted to sit next to me.  She was a very chilled out dog who would really suit an older couple or perhaps a busy family. Even though she was really quiet, the house felt empty when we had to take her back.  

IMG_3847

I have a feeling David developed a bond with Annie.  They really seemed to click.

IMG_3848

When I picked Annie up, the volunteers at K9 Friends warned me that she was “ugly/beautiful” and I guess that’s true.  She got a lot of weird looks on our walk, but she always won strangers over with her warmth and affection.  We were both very sad to take her back to the shelter at the end of the day.

IMG_3854

Annie was a small dog, and a little bit emaciated, but she was very strong and she liked to lead the way on our walks.  She was particularly partial to balls and always wanted to chase them down when we encountered them on our walk.  I think she would be suited to an active family or perhaps a single person that likes to exercise regularly.

IMG_3866

It was tough to drop Annie off at the shelter, and I think that she also wanted to stay with us.  K9 Friends are a very caring dog shelter, but these dogs really need to find permanent, loving homes.  If you want to adopt a dog in Dubai, this is the first place you should check out.  If you want some doggie love, on a more temporary basis, then you should definitely register to take a dog out for a walk.  It’s such a richly rewarding experience, for you and the dog.

 

Ejo #120 – Drunk In….. Beirut (or How We Joined The Revolution)

I was in Tbilisi, Georgia, sleeping off a serious hangover when my Mum died. David and I had hit the city hard over three days; boots on the ground, party hats on, elbows bent – all in the name of researching my next Drunk In installment. But “Drunk In….. Tbilisi” is an ejo that will never see the light of day. It would be impossible for me to celebrate, let alone reconcile, the drunken revelry that David and I indulged in over those three days, with the fact that they were my Mum’s last days alive. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write another Drunk In post ever again. It’s not that I stopped drinking after Mum died, far from it. And it’s not that I haven’t experienced moments of joy or frivolity either. Those moments have co-existed with my grief, and they still do. I actually just thought I would never be able to write about anything ever again. I wasn’t even sure that I could continue with these monthly ejos. But, here we are.

There is something that happens to you when a loved one dies. When the shadowy concept of death becomes a forcible reality, something you have to look at in the eye and face every day, the value of life is actually somehow reasserted. Yes, I am still sometimes crippled with the pain of losing my Mum. But yes, I can also still genuinely experience happiness, I can still laugh and have fun. This is known as living. My Mum would have wanted it, and I want it. Anything less would be an affront to this beautiful gift each of us has been given. When you wake up one morning, and learn that someone you love is gone forever, it brings into very sharp relief how truly precious (and shockingly short) life actually is. Eleven years ago, I made a choice to live in Dubai, away from my Mum and my family and my friends and my home. I did that, not because I love Dubai so much. I did it because it was an opportunity to see the world. I sacrificed one thing, for another. And I ask myself sometimes if that choice was worth it – though it really doesn’t bear much thinking about. I’ll never be able to answer. The only thing I am able to do now is to honour the decision I made all those years ago. To make that sacrifice count. I have to travel, I have to see the world. I have to do it for myself, and I also have to do it for my Mum.

Our first vacation since Tbilisi was in November. Our friend Cath (whom you might remember from our drunken adventures in Hoi An a couple of years ago) was taking a well-deserved break from her award winning work as a newspaper photographer, and when she flipped through the atlas to decide her destination, her finger landed on Beirut, Lebanon. David and I were thrilled, as we’ve always wanted to go to Beirut. And being so close to Dubai, it was the perfect destination for us to join Cath for a three day Drunk In adventure.

Three weeks before our trip, startling reports began surfacing of demonstrations and rioting in the country. The three of us monitored the situation carefully, reading up about the protests and decided that, despite several travel warnings, including advice to “exercise a high degree of caution” from the Australian government and a suggestion from the US government to “reconsider Lebanon due to crime, terrorism, armed conflict and civil unrest”, we would stick to our plan and go. Of course this was exactly the kind of thing that would have made my Mum extremely anxious. But because she’s no longer here to worry about me, in my mind I no longer have any reason to be cautious. I can throw caution to the wind, because it no longer matters if something bad happens to me. Twisted logic, right? Who said grief isn’t fun?

ENAB

So we landed in Beirut after a night shift, and a four hour flight, ready to hit the town. We were staying in a vibrant and gritty part of town called Mar Mikhael because that’s just how we do. It’s a lively area known for its many restaurants and bars and that’s exactly what we’d come for. After reuniting with Cath over a bottle of duty free Champagne on our balcony, we ambled a leisurely six minute walk from our Airbnb over to Enab, a well known restaurant specialising in local cuisine and wine. We ordered a bunch of different plates to share and delighted in the fresh flavours of what arrived on the table: hummus (of course), flatbreads, beef kibbeh and roast potatoes. The pièces de résistance for me though were the most delicious and tender char-grilled lamb chops I’ve ever eaten. They were perfection!!! All of this was washed down with three bottles of Beqaa Valley rosé. To say it was easy drinking would be an understatement, and to say we were on a mission would be the same. It was the perfect start to our night.

INFO:
Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael
1200-0000
CLICK FOR MAP

CHAPLIN

Bellies full, we pranced out of Enab and down the street, looking for the next hotspot.  We found it less than a four minute walk away at Bar Chaplin, a (you guessed it) Charlie Chaplin themed bar.  The place was absolutely heaving on a Friday night and we were lucky that a group of people sitting at an outside table moved over and made room for the three of us to be seated.  This is something that completely characterises Lebanese people.  They are bloody lovely.  They are friendly, and warm, and they will smile at you for no reason at all, which makes it ludicrously easy to flirt with them.  I absolutely loved almost every interaction I had with the people of Beirut.  After ordering drinks from the lovely waiter, we got into a conversation with our neighbours and spent the next three drinks talking about the issues consuming Lebanon.  They were thrilled that we would visit Beirut, despite the trouble brewing in the city.  We were very drunk so I can’t remember what we drank but it was pretty damn good.  You can trust me.

INFO:
Alexander Fleming Street, Mar Mikhael
1600-0400
CLICK FOR MAP

THE LEBANESE BAKERY

So, after Chaplin we decided we’d had enough and went home.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  But that’s not where the shenanigans ended, oh no.  We sat on the balcony for a couple more hours and caught up over many “sips” of Cognac and arak, a Lebanese aniseed based spirit.  It felt like a good idea at the time.  OMG though, the hangover the next day was epic.  I can’t even.  I don’t remember flopping on the bed around 4am, fully clothed, but I do remember stumbling down the stairs at around 8am to join David on the couch in the air-conditioned living room.  Sometime around 1pm we pulled ourselves together enough to jump into an Uber and head straight to The Lebanese Bakery for espressos and a bite to eat.  Regular readers of this ejo will know that I have a huge soft spot for flatbreads of the world.  Turkish pide, Jordanian manaqish, Hungarian lángos.  I love my flatbreads!!!  And now I can add Lebanese manousheh to that list. Baked fresh to order, you can choose from a variety of toppings to satisfy any craving.  We decided to share, and settled on halloumi cheese, basil and pine nuts for Cath, minced meat, onions and bulgur for David and free range eggs with kashkawan cheese for me.  BEST HANGOVER FOOD EVER.

IMG_2683

The mince beef manousheh.

IMG_2684

The free range egg version.  Looking at this gives me food orgasms.  They are a thing and if you don’t have them I feel sorry for you.

INFO:
Salim Bustros Street, Tabaris, Ashrafiyeh
0730-1530
CLICK FOR MAP

After eating we took a really long walk around town and ended up at Martyr Square, where the biggest demonstrations had been held.  On this Saturday afternoon it was deserted, but we somehow found ourselves accosted by a news crew wanting to know what we thought about the protests.  I was more than happy to share that we were fully supportive of the Lebanese people and that we weren’t frightened to be there at all.  That we wanted to be there.  I was broadcast on some Lebanese TV station, no doubt.  Listen, when you’re Drunk In a city, you get right in there, you get involved.  You don’t skirt around the edges.

IMG_2695

Martyr’s monument.

a395d923-56b4-4acf-b8c1-732fc1adc615

I love being interviewed when I’m hungover as fuck.

AL FALAMANKI RAOUCHE

The reporter told us that there would be a major demonstration the next day so we popped that into our itinerary before taking off in an Uber for some beers.  Cath had already visited Al Falamanki and reckoned we needed to get there in time for sunset.  And boy, was she right.  This restaurant/bar is perfectly situated on a cliff-face overlooking the Mediterranean and has incredible views of the setting sun and the famous Raouche Rocks.  Also, ice-cold beers and wonderful wait staff.

IMG_2720

We turned up in time for this view.

IMG_2727

After a really hard day of…. recovering, we needed these beers.  Don’t look at me like that.

INFO:
General De Gaulle Road, Kraytem
0900-0200
CLICK FOR MAP

ANISE

So we had dinner at one of the hottest restaurants in Beirut that night, but to be honest it was nothing to write home about, so I won’t.  What I will mention is that after dinner we were ready to kick on.  We walked to Anise, a bar featured in the World’s 50 Best Bars list.  Again, people went out of their way to make room for us, this time right at the bar.  Honestly, I’ve never felt so genuinely welcome and accommodated anywhere else in the world.  Lebanese hospitality is second to none.  We settled in and attempted to read the cocktail menu, somewhat thwarted by the dim lighting (oh, the vagaries of old age).  In the end a cocktail we watched being constructed in front of us proved too tempting and we just said, “We’ll have what she’s having”.  It turned out to be a sage margarita, and it turned out to be very fucking tasty.  While our drinks were being made, a guy next to me was served a yummy looking snack.  I was curious, so I asked him what it was and… seriously people, he offered me a bite.  And then he offered some to David and Cath too.  And we tried it.  And it was delicious.  And I can’t, for the life of me remember what it was, because… drunk.  But where else does that happen??   How wonderful.

IMG_2782

The lovely bartenders at Anise.  And the toaster oven (to the right) where the tasty snacks were being heated up.

IMG_2784

Sage margaritas.  Yum!

INFO:
Alexander Fleming Street, Mar Mikhael
1800-0130
CLICK FOR MAP

EM SHERIF 

Em Sherif restaurant is a Beirut institution.  Everyone from our Airbnb host, to our taxi driver, to Tripadvisor (#1 don’t lie) said it was a must do dining experience.  And so we did.  And it was…. everything.  And when I say everything, I mean that literally.  Thirty six dishes were laid out before us, one after the other in a constant (CONSTANT) procession.  And I will admit to making the rookie mistake of eating too much too soon, because I simply couldn’t finish everything that was served (which really sucks).  It’s kinda too much.  But at the same time, it’s kinda amazing.  So many feelings.  I think it’s definitely something everyone needs to experience at least once in their life.  If nothing else, to taste the silkiest, most incredible hummus ever created.

PS.  You need to make a reservation here.  Our table of three was the smallest table by far.  And we were the only non-Lebanese folks in the joint.  Just sayin’.

IMG_2812

We were amongst the first ones to arrive, but by the time we left the place was loaded with joyful Lebanese families celebrating life.

IMG_2818

But a small sample of the Lebanese delicacies that streamed out of the kitchen.

INFO:
Yesouiyeh Street, Ashrafieh
1200-0200
CLICK FOR MAP

THE REVOLUTION

Warnings

Avoid demonstrations, they said.  Ha!!!!

All day long we’d been joking about “dropping in on the revolution”.  Little did we know that’s exactly what we were going to do.  We made our way back to Martyr Square at sunset just as the demonstrations were kicking off.  Thousands of people had gathered in solidarity to protest their corrupt government and a mismanaged economy.  Despite paying high taxes, the city hasn’t had reliable electricity or running water since the 70s.  When the government recently announced that they would be introducing a tax on WhatsApp usage the people said, “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!!!”.  It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and it brought Lebanon, a country made up of 18 different religions, together.  It was incredible to be swept up in this feeling of unity on this night.  It was intoxicating.  Everyone gathered, regardless of their spiritual beliefs or religious identities, and they sang the national anthem and they danced and they waved their flags and they announced that, together, they were the people of Lebanon and that they’d had enough.  And we were right there.  It’s not often you get to be part of an historic event.  Despite being scared for me, I think my Mum would have been pretty proud that I was there.

1d72d3e5-d468-4bc7-a01a-3bf46dae350c

Photo courtesy of Cath Grey (award winning photojournalist).

 

TORINO EXPRESS

Revolutions are pretty thirsty work, so when things looked like they were winding down we set off in search of some drinks.  We happened upon Torino Express, which during the day disguises itself as a café, but morphs into a very cool bar in the evenings, complete with someone’s grandad, decked out in his best tracksuit, spinning tunes on a record player in the corner.  And let me tell you, grandad has some pretty good taste in music.  We all decided to start with a classic margarita, and they were so good we just kept ordering more.  Paying the bill I got confused with the currencies (both Lebanese pounds and US dollars are universally accepted), but the guy behind the bar was kind enough to point out that I was leaving a ridiculous tip.  He could have just pocketed it and I wouldn’t have been any the wiser, so huge props for honesty.  Just another reason to love Beirut.

IMG_2931

Torino Express

IMG_2932

Simply.  Perfect.  Margaritas.

INFO:
Gouraud Street, Gemmayzeh
1100-0200
CLICK FOR MAP

DRAGONFLY

Right next door to Torino Express is Dragonfly.  I’d read about their incredible cocktails online, and we were not let down.  The guys behind the bar are like cute, happy scientists, carefully measuring and concocting delicious libations with a smile.  Seriously, everyone in Beirut seems so chilled out and happy, despite the massive problems they face.  I want to know their secret.  I guess I’ll just have to go back and do some more research.  Come here if you’re passionate about cocktails.

IMG_0020

Such a sweety.  We asked if we could take a photo and he happily obliged.

IMG_0010

Three different versions of yum!

IMG_2953

The bartender obviously enjoyed all the love we were throwing his way because he threw these shots of arak our way.

INFO:
Gouraud Street, Gemmayzeh
1600-0130
CLICK FOR MAP

GRAYSCALE BAR

Opposite the front door of our Airbnb was a very lowkey bar called Grayscale.  It was so lowkey, and so hidden from sight, that we weren’t even sure it was open, so of course we had to go and find out.  And yes it was!  Post-revolution, we used this bar as a rendezvous point because Cath and I wanted to hit the streets and check out the action, while David was feeling a more chilled out kind of vibe and hung out at the bar while we went exploring.  I was extremely fucking drunk by this point, wandering around the streets, making friends, bringing them back to Grayscale (much to David’s bemusement).  Cath and I got separated but I never once felt unsafe.  So much for travel warnings.  You know you’ve reached the upper echelon of Drunk In when they name a cocktail after you.  Life goals people.

IMG_2800

Grayscale Bar

IMG_2990

I present to you the cocktail known as…. 40 Shades of Grey.

INFO:
Opposite Galerie Tanit, Armenia Street
CLICK FOR MAP

POST REVOLUTION

IMG_0015

The people.    © Cath Grey

IMG_0007

The future.  © Cath Grey

IMG_0006

Peacefully protesting.  © Cath Grey.

IMG_0021

Standing together.  © Cath Grey.

IMG_7882

Resistance.

IMG_7889

These guys were amazing.  They were so peaceful, and above all, human.  They didn’t want me to take their photo but I drunkenly snuck this one in.  We chatted about what they were doing and what I gleaned is that they are simply young men forced into a position of authority.  They don’t want any drama.  They don’t want to be there.  While we were there, the protests were not only peaceful, but friendly.  Sadly, after we left a protestor was shot and killed by a young officer. Things have taken a darker turn since and that makes me really sad.

 

 

 

 

Ejo #117 – My Mother’s Recipes: Chicken In Red Sauce

When I was a kid I didn’t like tomatoes very much. I liked them well enough raw, in a salad or a sandwich, but that was it. Anything with tomato cooked into it was blech to my palate. So I would aristocratically dip my hot chips in mayonnaise and snobbily eat my Four’n Twenty meat pies au naturel. When Mum made spaghetti bolognaise she would serve the pasta and the sauce separately and I’d happily reject the bolognaise, grating a little bit of goat’s cheese on my plain spaghetti instead. And when Mum made stuffed tomatoes, I would gouge out the yummy rice filling and wastefully leave behind a whole plateful of tomato cups. Which is why chicken with red sauce was never one of my faves growing up. Too tomatoey. Oh, but what a fool!!! Over the years I have come to appreciate tomato in all it’s forms and guises, including cooked!

Since Mum only ever cooked our favourite meals when David and I visited her in Melbourne, she never thought to make this one for us and as a result it’s been years and years since I’ve had it. Which is why I was so delighted when Pieta recently found a bunch of old handwritten recipes, including this one for chicken with red sauce. Yay!!! It was so wonderful to be able to cook this meal with my sisters and to actually enjoy, and appreciate, it with them. Especially since they both used to love it when they were kids.  It was truly delicious and I’m grateful that each of us was able to bring a recipe of Mum’s to this series. I still have a few of Mum’s recipes written down, but because Mari, Pieta and I won’t be able to cook together for a while, this post will be the last of “My Mother’s Recipes”. I’m sure I’ll be whipping up some of Mum’s other delicious recipes with David in Dubai, but it just won’t be the same.

chicken recipe

Not exactly a recipe, but close enough that we were able to decipher, and create magic, from it.  The butter, rice, fry, water bit is how our Mum used to make the rice.

Speaking of Dubai, we’ve been back here for just under four weeks and I already miss being in Melbourne. I miss the cool weather. The trees. The fresh air. Nature. My friends. I miss good food and good coffee. I miss hanging out in the neighbourhood I grew up in (and which I’ll probably never hang out in again). Shopping at the local supermarket, late in the afternoon and walking home with the groceries in the dappled light. I miss listening to the kookaburras laughing at dusk, and the magpies warbling at dawn. I miss my Mum’s beautiful garden. I miss my Mum.

And I miss my sisters. So fucking much. I miss spending every day with them. I miss the three of us all staying in the home we grew up in – the first time we’ve lived together in over 25 years. I miss the military precision required for the morning shower rush. I miss watching TV with them, going for drives together, running errands, talking, crying, laughing. I miss eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with them, and getting plastered with them. I miss their smiles and their quirks. I miss cooking with them. And I particularly miss the three of us cooking our Mum’s recipes together. It was so fucking special to have the opportunity to do that. We’ve never done it before, and who knows if we’ll ever do it again (though I really hope we do).

Recreating Mum’s food together was nostalgic, fun, delicious, cathartic and yes, a little bit sad. But most of all, it was something that bonded the three of us together in a way that we have never connected before. Food can be amazing like that. It thrilled me that the three of us could sit down to eat the food that we made – the exact same food that our Mum nourished us with, the food that she used to put her heart and soul into cooking for us. It was a beautiful thing. And I’m so happy that I can share it with you. It truly gives me joy that some of you have actually made these recipes for yourselves. That’s what this is all about. Food is love, or at least it is in my family.

Kalí órexi.

CHICKEN IN RED SAUCE
INGREDIENTS:
olive oil for frying
1 kg chicken wings and drumettes (free range and organic if you can afford it)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste (more to taste)
1 teaspoon flour
a pinch of dried oregano
cooked rice to serve

IMG_7512IMG_7516
IMG_7514

The ingredients.  We used brown rice which takes a bit longer to cook but is super easy (just pop a cup of brown rice and 1¾ cup of water into a saucepan with a large pinch of salt, and bring to the boil before lowering heat to simmer, covered for 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and stand for five minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving).

METHOD:
Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat.  Add chicken and brown in batches.  Set aside.

IMG_7518

The browning of the chicken.  Be careful not to cook it, you just want to sear it all around to seal in the juices.  Mmmm, juices.

IMG_7520

The browned chicken.  As always, a glass of wine makes the cooking process run so much more smoothly.

Add more oil if necessary and saute onion until soft.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add tomato paste and stir to combine well.  Add flour and cook for a minute, stirring.

Add chicken pieces back to saucepan and stir, ensuring the chicken pieces are all coated in sauce.

IMG_7525

The flour will be a little lumpy at this stage but don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it in the next step.

Add a little bit of water and stir through to dissolve any floury lumps (see, I told you we’d take care of it).  Add more water, enough to just cover the chicken, and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.  Remove the lid and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens.

Serve over a bowl of rice and make sure you get lots of sauce in there.  YUM!

IMG_7528

As with most comfort foods the result isn’t super Instagrammable – however it is super eatable and super delicious, so get in there.  A good squiz of lemon juice really helps to elevate the flavours (it is a Greek dish after all). 😉