October 12, 2012
Spanakopita. It’s not “spanigobida,” not “spans” or “spinach pie.” Spanakopita. You have to say it like a real Greek- “Spanakopita.” I cringe at any other rendition, any other attempt. Here’s the ultimate Greek dish: Phyllo dough with oil and spinach with feta filling. It brings great nostalgia, great pride in my heritage (not many people I know are Greek). It prompts great curiosity; how could such a simple meal have this profound effect on me?
Dinners that include Spanakopita are always special. Whenever anyone smells it from across the room (or from across the house), he or she must beware of the herds of people who are about to stampede to the overflowing plate (which will be gone faster than one can say “opa”). ---
Every Sunday night, my dad’s side of the family gets together for an Italian dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, and that hasn’t become a tradition, it has become more of a habit. It hasn’t become boring in any sense- I love Sunday dinners- but they aren’t special. My mom’s side of the family lives all over the place: New Jersey, Vermont, upstate New York, and Long Island. They don’t get along very well. There’s always some sort of drama among everyone in the family. Ever seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? When we’re together, that movie literally depicts our lives perfectly. It’s just a mess- it’s chaos. Since it’s so rare that all of us are together (including every cousin and every aunt, uncle and Grandma) we find a way to brush aside all of those terrible feelings and enjoy each other’s company for as long as we can. And at dinner, other dishes may vary- Moussaka, Pastitio, maybe some Stifado, but something that always remains constant is that Spanakopita. For some reason, I’ve always connected our good times together with the unbroken appearance of the Spanakopita. Neither halves of my family are peaceful; we’re all obnoxious and we constantly yell over each other to...
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