Yiayia Katina’s Strapatsada (Village eggs with tomato)
Anastasia Miari takes a trip to the small village of Ilias, the motherland of our honey and heirloom tomatoes producer Alexandros Gousiaris, and cooks with the women of the local community.
‘Yiayia Katina is rare in Greek grandmother terms. I hope no one will mind me saying this, but she’s actually very sweet, whereas usually, the matriarch of the family is stern, wry and a bit of a force to be reckoned with. She always has a smile on her face and didn’t mind at all when I asked her to climb over a ditch into a potentially snake-infested field for a photo. My own yiayia would not have had any of it. She lives in a village of only 35 residents, a short drive away from the epic landscapes and teetering monasteries of Meteora, in what I like to call ‘Middle Greece’ on account of its fantasy-feeling rolling hills and verdant valleys…..
Her home is flanked by four expansive fields. The garden is dotted with combine harvesters, bright green tomato vines and quite often, half the village. They all call her theia (aunt) and drop by unannounced for coffee at all hours of the day. I ask her if she ever gets bored of having to speak with the same people, day in, day out. Her response is telling of her pragmatism, ‘I’m used to it now and I like the company. Besides, there’s always someone getting divorced or someone dying, so we have new things to talk about according to which turns life takes.’
Together we make a village classic, avga strapatsada, which Yiayia Katina says could be eaten at any time of the day, but I deem it to be the perfect brunch. I like to serve this Ionian style, with a sprinkling of spicy cayenne pepper or chilli flakes, but the ladies in Katina’s garden looked horrified at the mere suggestion. They say there’s nothing better than a fresh slice of crunchy bread dipped into it, along with a crumbling of feta sprinkled on top.’
Yiayia by Anastasia Miari (Hardie Grant), Photography by Marco Arguello
- 100 ml (3 ½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) olive oil
- 660 g (1 lb) good-quality passata or 2 jars Organic Heirloom Tomatoes
- 1/2 red (bell) pepper, chopped
- 8 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
- Heat the oil in a wide frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat and stir in the passata (pressed heirloom tomatoes). Wait for it to start bubbling before adding the chopped red pepper.
- Add a sprinkling of salt and allow to bubble away for 10–15 minutes until the peppers are soft and the passata and oil have combined into a nice sauce.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add the eggs and marble into the tomato with a spoon. Take care to stand over it and stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick and burn.
- Cook for 10 minutes until the eggs are cooked but still soft (if you see the eggs hardening faster and it’s becoming a little omelette-like, take it off the heat).