Gouna is a way of curing mackerel and horse mackerel. “So, you catch the fish,” says the fisherman, “you slice it open, clean it, season it with salt and pepper, add some oregano, and hang it somewhere to air dry. When the fish is dried, it can be lightly cooked or stored in the freezer”.
Collect the snails after the rain. Put them into a wash bowl full of water, cover them and allow to soak. Those coming out are the ones alive, the ones we keep. Put them into a basket full of straw, oregano and thyme, leave them for 20 to 25 days and, after rinsing them thoroughly in two or three changes of water and cook them.
Recipes & photos: Kyris P. Athanasiadis
The traditional kitchen
The following recipes are based on Parian culinary tradition. Behind these locally-inspired dishes is chef Kyris Athanasiadis, and Anna Kagani who assisted him and whose kitchen hosted the preparation of the three dishes featured here.
Anna, whom we sincerely thank for the hospitality, pointed out the character of the Parian cuisine. Straightforward, yet delicious, the local cuisine makes the most of local ingredients abundantly provided by nature, the sea and the kitchen garden. We also owe thanks to Petros Emmanuel, from Tserki, for offering equipment and support for the preparation of the dishes, and, last but not least, to Yiannis Skandalis from Aliki, for his “gouna” (sun-dried fish).
Chef Kyris Athanasiadis, a lover of simple, homemade food, learnt to cook at his home in Thessaloniki by the side of his Asia-Minorian grandmother, whom he dearly loved. He studied economics as well as cooking and pastry-making and, by combining his two specialties, he became a sales manager and store manager in his home town quite early on. Although he had a distinguished career in that field, he gladly accepted an offer to come to Paros and take on the management of three villas, including their kitchens.
Going back to those days, he tells us: “I did that successfully for eight years. And during that time, I met all these people thanks to whom my line of work gradually expanded abroad: UK, USA, Milan, Venice, Zurich. In Greece, I’ve cooked for all the politicians in the country; I’ve also cooked for kings and actors.
When I cook, what I have in mind is a Sunday table –that’s what I’ve been doing throughout the past 16 years. Once, I put together lamb fricassée for a black-tie dinner in the US and it was a blast! My ingredients are the fresh, local ones that I, myself, would eat. I choose my recipes guided by memories, mostly smells.” And he concludes, “Food is a pleasure for me –it is a ritual of love. I enjoy being here now. I love Paros, this is the place where I want to live and work. My dream is a modest venture of my own, a Greek, traditional eatery of 5-6 tables”.
Chard and xynomyzithra pie
Ingredients for the phyllo dough
– 1 glass lukewarm water
– 1 teacup sunflower oil
– 2 tbs white vinegar
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 pinch salt
– 1/2 kg soft wheat flour
Ingredients for the filling
– 1 kg fresh chard
– 1 bunch spring onions
– 1 handful parsley, dill and fennel
– 300 gr Parian xynomyzithra (sour, creamy white cheese)
– 2 eggs
– Olive oil
For the phyllo dough:
Pour the water, the olive oil and the vinegar into a deep mixing bowl, add the salt, and slowly mix in the flour. Knead until the dough is smooth, soft and not sticky. Divide into 4 equal balls and allow to rest. While preparing the filling, use a rolling pin to roll the balls out into 4 sheets, two for the top and two for the bottom, and butter each sheet.
For the filling:
Sauté the chard and the other vegetables until wilted and release their juices. Drain off the excess liquid, and add salt and pepper, the eggs and the xynomyzithra cheese. Grease a baking pan with olive oil or butter. Place two sheets in the bottom of the pan, add the filling, and layer the remaining two sheets of phyllo on top. Score the pie, brush the top sheet with butter or olive oil and, optionally, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place in the oven and bake at 180°C for one hour.
Gouna fish salad with chickpeas
and cherry tomatoes
– 2 gounas (sundried fish, a traditional Parian appetizer)
– 200 gr Parian cherry tomatoes
– 400 gr cooked chickpeas (in an electric or wood oven, as we prepared them, with a dash of lemon, olive oil and onion)
– 4 spring onions
– 2 small cucumbers
– Olive oil
– 1 orange, the juice
– 1 lemon, the juice
– 1 lime, the juice
– Anise powder
– Sweet red peppercorns
After cooking the chickpeas, drain off all the liquid. Cut the cucumbers, the cherry tomatoes and the herbs into a large bowl. Remove the backbone and pin bones from the gouna, and add to the rest of the ingredients. Pour in the juices from the fruits, the spices and the olive oil, mix gently, and serve on a platter garnishing with lime wedges and caramelised onions.
– 1 kg snails, cleaned
– 4 large onions, finely chopped
– 1 head garlic, finely chopped
– 50 gr olive oil
– 4 tomatoes, finely diced
– 1 handful parsley
– A few spearmint leaves
– Anise seeds
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 glass dry white wine
Sauté the onions, the tomato, the garlic, the fennel, the parsley and the mint in the olive oil until wilted and douse with the wine. Stir, sprinkle with all the spices, and add in the snails. Cover and leave on a low heat for all the ingredients to simmer, blend together and release their aromas, until thickened. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and pepper and serve on a platter.