Folklore, superstition, culinary history, holiday traditions and general musings – a rambling miscellany of interesting thoughts on food and cooking, gardening and travel, history and anthropology. Listed in reverse order of posting date.
Also have a look at my posts in Books, Diaries or Photo Album for more random thoughts and visual essays.

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The Ever Popular St. Nick (20 December 2020)
Another Ayios Nikolaos (Saint Nicolas) icon from Kastoria, northern Greece for the holiday season.
Versatile Kran(i)a (11 October 2020)
The Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) and its uses in Epirus, Greece.
Adapting (22 August 2020)
Notes from Greece on the new normality.
Nativity (22 December 2018)
A Cretan Icon for 2018 Seasons Greetings.
On Doors (20 December 2018)
A photographic roundup of doors observed in 2018 plus a few rambling thoughts on the meaning of doors.
Embroidered Bread (25 July 2018)
The tradition of elaborate decorated (“embroidered”) breads from Crete for weddings, christenings and other life events.
Bulawayo Cooking (27 June 2018)
An example of British colonial cooking – recreating foods from home and adapting to local conditions – from 1909 Southern Rhodesia.
Minoan Tastes (23 May 2018)
Recreating the Minoan Food experience.
Without Blood (28 March 2018)
Seafood in the Athens Central Market and dietary requirements for fasting during lent.
Meat Market (7 February 2018)
Cultural indicators in the meat stalls at the Athens Central Market.
Carnival (24 January 2018)
The tradition of Greek Carnival – or Apokries – three weeks before Lent celebrated with conspicuous consumption of meat and masquerades.
Saint Nick for 2017 (22 December 2017)
Ayios Nikolaos (Saint Nicolas), noted for his numerous miracles and for his habit of secretly giving gifts, and the etymological origins of Santa Claus.
Greek Charcuterie (25 October 2017)
An etymological discussion on the cultural origins of Greek traditional cured meats – particularly pork.
Staged Authenticity (13 September 2017)
The effect of tourism on the Greek mountain town of Metsovo – how culture is presented to outsiders.
Ode to A Market (12 July 2017)
Observations of human interaction in a local Greek outdoor market.
Clay & Pots (22 May 2017)
Traditional potter on the Greek island of Aegina who sources his own clay. (also in Photo Album)
Intangible Pie (22 March 2017)
Culinary Traditions as Intangible Cultural Heritage, focusing on Greek regional pita (pies).
Tamata (11 March 2017)
Sympathetic magic, icons and prayers in the Byzantine churches of Mystras, Greece. (also in Photo Album)
Silver Fish (18 January 2017)
An electrochemical recipe to remove silver tarnish.
Hellenic White Varietals (23 November 2016)
A note on some Greek white wine grapes.
Magic Scacciaguai on Tap (19 November 2016)
More on scacciaguai figures from Garfagnana – symbolic magic – based around sources of water.
Otto File Maize (12 October 2016)
A water mill in the Serchio valley of Garfagnana and the milling of otto file (8 row flint corn) for the production of polenta.
Sagra Ethnography (3 October 2016)
The phenomenon of a Garfagnana (Italy) food festival from the viewpoint of a foreign visitor.
‘Gypsy’ Chicken (28 June 2016)
Experimental clay wraped chicken cooked in an open fire and a discussion of unfired clay cook pots.
Lagana (15 March 2016)
Greek flatbread for Clean Monday – Καθαρά Δευτέρα – the first day of Orthodox Lent.
Unexpected Consequences (9 February 2016)
Sourcing local flours for breadmaking and its wider implications. (also in Sourdough Chronicles)
Divides & Binding Traditions (26 January 2016)
Differing regional traditions of making vasilopita, Greek New Year’s cake. (also in Recipe: Desserts)
Street Food and Masses of Balloons (31 December 2015)
Holiday celebrations in central Athens and festive street food vendors.
Shades of Orange (26 November 2015)
Arrival of Autumn in Athens and the celebration of American Thanksgiving.
Little Cakes (24 November 2015)
Greek custom of offering sweets on Birthdays and Name Days. And, the benefits of the ζαχαροπλαστείο (the pâtisserie).
Bella Sparoza (17 November 2015)
An Attic hillside garden designed according to the principles of Ekistics. (also in Garden Diaries)
Variables of a Sourdough Kind (5 November 2015)
Variable properties of ingredients and differents in the environment that affect bread making. (also in Sourdough Chronicles)
Biga 14 July 2015
Definitions of the traditional Italian preferment, biga. (also in Sourdough Chronicles)
Meanderings in the Maze of Food, Tradition & Identity 15 December 2014
An attempt to define the terms tradition and traditional and their use of markers of identity with regard to food.
Scacciaguai 26 October 2014
Folk magic in Garfagnana – chasing away trouble.
Cheese Making at la Azienda Agricola 19 September 2014
Traditional pecorino cheese making in the Garfagnana region of northern Tuscany.
The Basil Effect 20 June 2014
The Greek custom of using basil in the making of a sourdough starter. (also in Sourdough Chronicles)
Crossed Bread 14 April 2014
Folklore of the hot cross bun and Greek cross-cultural comparisons of bread marked with crosses.
Supermarket Sociology 27 January 2014
Cultural identity in the Supermarket.
Bread for Saint Basil 2 January 2014
Greek New Year’s tradition of Vasilopita, bread for the feast day of Saint Basil (with recipe). (also in Recipes: Breads, Crackers and Batter Breads)
Flap Dragons…Snip, Snap, Dragon! 15 December 2013
The tradition of a “flaming” food-related Christmas Eve game.
A Cook’s Things 22 November 2013
Objects in a cook’s kitchen as markers of identity. (also in In My Kitchen)
A Sixpence, A Wishbone & A Thimble 16 November 2013
The tradition of “Stir-Up” of the Christmas plum pudding five weeks before Christmas, and the custom of inserting silver tokens.
Parkin 5 November 2013
November 5th Bonfire Night celebrations and the Northern English tradition of Parkin and Thar’s Cake (with an old recipe).
Kitchen Archaeology 1 November 2013
The story of what lies beneath my 19th-century kitchen floor. (also in In My Kitchen)
The Original Jack o’Lantern 28 October 2013
Halloween tradition of a carved turnip. (also in Recipe: Vegetables & Salads)
Proust Pickles 23 September 2013
On memory and food. A multi-cultural phenomenon.
Burnt Toast in Morning 19 September 2013
Kitchen superstition. The folk tradition of the German and Scandinavian “kitchen witch”.


  1. Today I heard some women talking about using knitting needles to poke the holes in their Christmas cakes in which to pour the booze. Love it!


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