Since Odysseus dined on mezethes and spit-roasted meat on Corfu in the Homeric epic, the island has been conquered by Rome and Byzantium; taken by Norman adventurers, Genoese pirates and the Angevin kings of Naples; and held for four hundred years by the Venetians. Through the vicissitudes of war and peace the classical Greek cooking has become distinctly Corfiot.
In the heart of Corfu, away from the tourist beaches, old traditions of living and eating still flourish. Over the centuries culinary influences from all over the Mediterranean have been absorbed into the classical Greek cuisine and adapted to suit the extraordinary variety of produce that comes from this beautiful and very fertile island. The result is a style of cooking unique in the world.
For many years James Chatto and his wife, Wendy Martin, made their home in the remote village of Loutses, an olive-farming community in the north-east of Corfu. During their first winter, when the tourists had left and the shops and restaurants of the coastal resorts closed, they learned that there was more to Corfiot cooking than they ever imagined. The Lousiotes take a keen interest in food and were willing teachers. Cooking from memory, measuring the ingredients by eye and correcting the seasoning by frequent tasting, they have preserved their recipes without ever writing them down.
The island provides abundant produce: olives, vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese and wine, a wide variety of fish and shellfish from the sea, and from the hills, herbs, horta or wild greens, game, nuts and wild fruits.
The pace of life is unchanging, the rhythm of work and daily fare determined by the seasonal cycle. Many of the dishes prepared are linked with the festivals of the Christian calendar, such as Lenten pilaf, Easter biscuits, Paschal lamb and the vasilopitta of New Year. A sociable people, the Corfiots love to enjoy food and wine in good company—at home or at the taverna. In this delightful book James Chatto and W.L. Martin set down the recipes they have collected, describe the growing, gathering and preparation of food, record the daily round of their friends and neighbors and enjoy the life of a rural village in Corfu.