Every cook worth her salt has many mentors who influence and inspire her in different measures. From Froso, I learned the importance of using local ingredients at their seasonal peak, and the degree to which the art and craft of cooking are inextricably entwined with the quality of the ingredients. I could not have written my cookbook, Tastes Like Home: Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, if Froso and I had never met.
I first sat at Froso’s table 25 years ago, as her cousin’s new wife. She spoke no English. I spoke no Greek. There are no strangers at Froso's table and she welcomed me into her kitchen, the center of family life, with open-hearted hospitality.
Our shared love for food and cooking was our first common language. Beginning with our first days together, and continuing over the next two decades, I have watched, tasted, and helped Froso prepare an amazing abundance of food from what she, her family, and her friends grew or gathered, all within walking distance of her kitchen.
Froso lives in Atsiki, the small, vibrant farming village where she was born, on Limnos, a rural island in the North Aegean Sea. Once from necessity and now by choice, the foods that grace Froso’s table come almost exclusively from the bounty of her garden, fields, and pastures, the island's hunting grounds, and the rich waters of the surrounding sea.
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Although it is cooked in oil, kavourma is not a fatty dish. The meat has most of the fat rendered out in the cooking process, so what is left is succulent browned pork. Here is Froso’s modern version of kavourma: When we eat it in Alaska, we feel the presence of Froso at our table, without whom our meals would be much the poorer.
Kavourmas and Cabbage (Καβουρμάς με Λάχανο)