Tag Archives: Lent

Happy Tsiknopempti!

16 Feb

Happy Tsiknopempti!  You’ve heard of Fat Tuesday, the French holiday associated with Mardi Gras.  Well, today is Fat Thursday, ten days before the beginning of Great Lent.

Tsiknopempti means Barbecue Thursday, Charred Meat Thursday, or Burnt Thursday.  It’s the evening Greek Orthodox believers consume massive amounts of meat because they start fasting from meat even a week before Great Lent, the forty days leading up to Pascha (Easter), begins.

I’ve been fasting from meat for six years.  I guess that means BBQ tofu and grilled veggies for me.

It’s my sister’s favorite holiday.  She’s such a carnivore!  I’d never even heard of the holiday til my family moved to Greece.  Then my sister told me all about a day where the sweet smell of charred meat wafts through the dusty roads of ancient villages.

What’s your favorite food to barbecue?

Here are a few recipe ideas:::

Skewered Grilled Fruit with Minted Yogurt Honey Sauce

Grilled Fruit Skewers with Spicy Maple Cumin Glaze

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce

Lamb Chops with Lemon


You might also like these articles:::

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye Meat

Tasty Tuesday: Dinner at Souvlaki GR

Clip: Paintings of the Crucifixion


φάε: Spinach & Kimchee Pies — My Childhood in Savory Pastry Form

14 Mar

I grew up in a town in New Jersey that was heavily populated by Korean Americans.  You can imagine my delight then when I stumbled upon a kimchee variation of spanikopita.  It was like my childhood in savory pastry form!

On her ever-popular blog, Not Eating Out in New York, Cathy Erway tells how her friend inspired her to make spanikopita.  When she didn’t have any feta cheese in her fridge to make the spinach pie, she decided on a unique alternative: kimchee.  “I’ll take spicy, briny, tart pickled cabbage over feta this time,” she wrote.


Spinach & Kimchee Pie. Photo via Not Eating Out in New York. Used with permission.

For anyone who doesn’t know, spanikopita is the name of a Greek spinach pie that is made out of delicious layers of phyllo dough, spinach, feta cheese, egg, and onion.  This being the season of Great Lent, I should point out that there is also a vegan version that does not contain cheese.

Kimchee, meanwhile, is a popular Korean dish of fermented vegetables.  The main vegetable is cabbage but it could also have onions and cucumbers in it.  Kimchee is having its moment right now.  It’s being packaged up and branded to the foodie hipster crowd.  The brand Cathy uses in her recipe is her friend Kheedim Oh’s Mama O’s Kimchee, but I also discovered via Joy Deangdeelert Cho’s blog, oh joy!, the brand Mother In Law’s Kimchi, which I then stumbled upon at Whole Foods.

Cathy’s spinach & kimchee pies are not your yiayia’s spanikopita.  She combined the spinach and kimchee and folded it into pastry dough.  Get the full recipe and its health benefits on the Not Eating Out in New York blog.

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye Meat

7 Feb

The Carnival season won’t start until next month in Catholic countries (Mardi Gras isn’t until March 8), but the Carnival season in Greece kicks off on February 12 and will run until March 6 this year.  The dates are different but the significance is the same.

The dates differ for the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox because of two things: Firstly, Catholics use the Gregorian calendar, while Orthodox use the Revised Julian calendar.  Secondly, for Catholics, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, while for Orthodox, Lent begins on Clean Monday.

The concept behind Carnival for both denominations is the same, though.  Carnival marks a season of revelry before Lent begins.  Lent is the forty-day period before Easter when Christians prepare for the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ by fasting and other means.  Since certain foods cannot be eaten during Lent and would spoil before the forty days are up, they had to be eaten ahead of time.  According to some accounts, this resulted in gluttonous parties in the days leading up to Lent, a season we now celebrate as Carnival.

In Greece, Carnival is known as Apokriés (Αποκριές), which literally translates to “saying goodbye to meat.”  Each week there are different celebrations to say good-bye to the favorite foods we’ll be giving up.

2011’s Key Carnival Dates for Eastern Orthodox:

Triodion: Sunday, February 12th
Tsiknopempti or “Burnt Thursday”: February 24th
Tsiknopempti Weekend: Friday, February 25th – Sunday, February 27th
Main Carnival Weekend: Friday, March 4th – Sunday, March 6th
Clean Monday: Monday, March 7th

Just as in other Carnival celebrations around the world, Greeks celebrate Apokriés with parades, floats, and wild masks.