“To Greeks, food is not just food. It represents love. It represents family,” says Debbie Matenopoulos. She would know. Matenopoulos left her Greek family’s generous and healthy meals to attend New York University, intern at MTV, and work at various television shows, including The View. Life in the fast lane meant eating fast food, which predictably expanded her waistline and increased her acne. Over time, she returned to her family’s traditional Greek recipes, and her health improved.
Matenopoulos’s new cookbook, It’s All Greek to Me, intertwines recipes with relatable tales mostly about family and Greek life. Each of the 120 recipes is a Matenopoulos-family favorite passed down from Matenopoulos’s “yiayia” (grandmother), mother, aunts, cousins, and sister. Influenced by her family’s efforts to eat healthy, the recipes are made with fresh ingredients to encourage readers to buy local and organic.
It’s All Greek to Me features few meals with long hours of preparation and cooking times. Instead, most of the recipes will easily fit into a household’s hectic schedule. Lemonates Patates (Lemon Potatoes) is a simple dish, in which the potatoes are baked in a mustard and lemon sauce. When making the recipe, I strayed once from the directions by not peeling the outer skin to save time. The resulting recipe still yielded melt-in-your-mouth potatoes, and I tossed them with baby spinach leaves.
Countless studies have demonstrated how Mediterranean diets prevent cardiovascular disease caused by stress and poor eating habits. For most people managing chaotic lives, It’s All Greek to Me encourages a slower lifestyle of enjoying healthy meals with close family and friends.
“Stin igieia sou kai kali orexi!” (“To your health and good appetite!”)