If there was a silver lining to this past year it was rediscovering the joys of cooking. The importance of food is a thread that unites us all, whether in the US, India, or Antarctica. The instinct to feed others is one of our most basic; it inspires humanity and builds communities. But cooking also provides, in some sense, a way of escape. And cooking authentic meals can equate to traveling around the world without actually leaving your kitchen.
Most recently we’ve dipped our toes into Greek cooking. Our guide? Georgina Hayden. The author of the cook book Taverna, Hayden more or less grew up in the Greek Cypriot kitchen. A cook, food writer, and stylist, her childhood home in Tufnell Park, London, was located just above her grandparents’ Greek Cypriot taverna, where she would spend a lot of her time.
“I grew up in a very food-driven household,” relayed Hayden in an interview with National Geographic. “Both sets of grandparents had emigrated from Cyprus in the late 1950s, and my mum’s parents opened one of the first Greek Cypriot delis in London, importing traditional ingredients. My dad’s parents opened a Cypriot tavern, which they ran for almost 30 years, and I was born above the restaurant, so most of my early memories revolve around it.”
With a love for Greek cooking, Hayden’s recipes are a love letter to her family and heritage, infused with memories of sun-kissed Mediterranean holidays, watermelons, and halloumi cheese. In other words: it’s exactly the kind of food you’d likely crave this summer.
According to Hayden, cooking was, and still is, very much instinctive to her. “There are no written recipes, and my mum and yiayias would cook whatever was in season,” she recalled. “In Greek Cypriot families, there’s always soulful, nourishing food, and always enough to feed at least 20 people. I still make far too much today.”
And while our cooking intuition might lack, Hayden’s recent cook book is a great way to introduce ourselves to another culture.