Saturday, April 19, 2014

Does anyone make real maghiritsa anymore?

Tonight my brother Bill and I will make our annual pilgrimage to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in North Miami, a place that harkens me back to small-town Greece. After the liturgy, those who have stayed till the end will be rewarded with a welcoming Easter feast of the traditional maghiritsa soup, tsoureki, red eggs, feta, olives and some wine as we repeat the "Hristos Anesti" -- and I am looking forward to it. 

It will be very tasty maghiritsa, I can vouch for that -- but not maghiritsa made with lamb intestines (think kokoretsi!)  It's not so easy to procure lamb intestines these days, so most people use liver and heart along with some lamb meat.  The rest is the same: 4-5 bunches of green onions, 2 bunches of dill, a little rice and the makings for avgholemono soup.  Tasty, just not the real thing.

Growing up in Stockton, I never ate the maghiritsa that my Yiayia Sarris prepared, primarily because it smelled to high heaven while she was cooking it -- not unlike her patsa (tripe), which I did not eat or cook until recently after eating menudo in Mexico.  That's yet another story...
But when living in Greece (1968-78), I learned to never ever turn down food offered in anyone's home, especially in Greek villages. The first time I ate maghiritsa was in Ouranoupolis, Halkidhikis -- in a Byzantine tower inhabited by Joyce Loch, a legendary figure in those parts. The amazing Kyria Fani did all her cooking. Meals were served in a monk-like refectory, often accompanied by a bunch of gray cats that hovered nearby or even on the bench next to Joyce at the head of the table. One night, I came face-to-face with a dish of maghiritsa. It was (thankfully) fabulous, and I was hooked. 
My friend Vouli taught me the ropes, literally and figuratively. The intestines must be washed separately in lukewarm water using salt and lemon; then they are turned inside out on a pencil and washed again before blanching as you have done the other offals.  Make sure to get rid of that pencil!

The rest is easy: cut the intestines and offals into small pieces, saute the onions in butter, add the innards and some dill, simmer for a couple of hours in the water you boiled the meat in, add more dill and a little rice, finish off with the avgholemeno -- and you have a winner!

Kali Anastasi! But does anyone make real maghiritsa any more?

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