As the first born, I was named after my grandmother Sofia Argyropoulos, who spelled her Christian name like the Italian screen actress Sofia Loren. Her name befitted her beauty and character.
I am told that l was a very feisty, energetic and inquisitive little girl, which reminded my parents a great deal of my yiayia Sofia.
I remember always visiting my grandparents for a huge weekly banquet, which yiayia seemed to prepare lovingly and effortlessly. When we arrived and knocked at the front door of our grandparents’ home, we could hear yiayia Sofia singing out from the kitchen with her high-pitched voice, ‘Ποιος ειναι;’ (Whoooo…. issss …it?). Of course she knew who it was, but she always wanted to make sure we knew how excited she was to have us over. She would then come to the door, greet us with her apron on and shower us with her hugs and kisses.
As children, we were fussy eaters but yiayia always made sure to cater for everyone’s tastes and made sure we ate well. To this day, when l finish a plate of food, she says, ‘Why you no eat. You must eat to gro(w). You no want to gro(w)?’
She always served us spanakopita at the weekly family feasts. It’s one of her specialties and she makes it with hand-made pastry. (She still makes spanakopita for me to share with my non-Greek housemates.) And there were always two cakes for dessert, one for the adults and one for the children. The children’s cake was always made with recipes that she had adapted or created herself, because the cake had to be nut and egg free to accommodate my younger brother’s allergies.
I am passionate about food and love connecting with others through sharing recipes and the stories they often reveal. I have done so during my travels around Europe and South East Asia, but also back at home with my yiayia. There has always been a slight language barrier between us, but we manage to communicate in Gr-english and via our similar sense of humour. Over the years our bond has strengthened as we have started cooking for each other and with each other – sharing recipes, trawling through cookbooks and cooking together. Sometimes I’ll bake biscuits for her and she will recreate them using just her intuition – she comes pretty close! Working together on Kali Orexi has allowed us to capture one of these moments and hold it in safekeeping for years to come.
I loved spending time with my yiayia on the KO project. It was lots of fun introducing her to her very first manicure and makeover. I knew that she was a bit nervous about being on camera and making sure the Vasilopita was a success; but to my delight, she had watched enough cooking shows on the Greek channel to be able to talk and demonstrate just like a professional.
As an adult, my interest in cooking has grown, and I have come to appreciate the amount of time and effort yiayia used to put into her weekly family feasts and how it was one of the ways she expressed her love for us.