Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yiayia Paraskevoutha's Squash Pita

There are many family recipes that can be both very special and bedevilling because they are hard to make "just like Yiayia did." Part of the problem is that there were no actual recipes, or else a few words written down that don't tell us much per se. So you either learn from the Master and/or keep working on it till you get it right...

One of those is Yiayia Paraskevoutha's Squash Pita -- made by my my father's mother (Pauline Xanttopulos -- also mother of Faith, Mary, and Gus) who brought it from her home town of Naoussa. It's a "horiatiki" (village) pita, because it doesn't use regular filo. It's basically two crusts made filo-ish by rolling very thin layers of dough together so it becomes flakey. The filling is basically peeled, cooked, strained and cooled yellow squash mixed with sugar, eggs, and milk. You could also call this pita, "Naousaiki" pita.

The person in my family who makes Yiayia's pita best, is my cousin Helen Edson -- daughter of my aunt Mary and uncle Jim. The pita she made for Thanksgiving was thicker than usual, but totally delicious!

I have never made it - but years ago when I lived in Greece and visited relatives in Naoussa regularly, I got a pita lesson from Aunt Alkinoy Lala. I wrote everything down, with the obligatory sketch of the strange-looking dough that rolls into a great crust. I need to learn how to make this pita and soon -- time is not on my side in terms of pulling the various recipes that kind of define our family to pass on to the next generation.

This February -- very soon! -- I am spending a few weeks in California. I hope that Helen, my brother, and I can get together to make this pita and share info, so that we we will all on the proverbial same page. This would be great!

See y'all soon, especially where they buy ouzo..


P.S. Gepsie's mother Gigi was not hurt in the earthquake, has returned from Haiti, and is back on track here in Miami!

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