We participated in the Love Difference Pastries with the project «Pie, transformed pastries” which was the beginning of a dialogue on the occasion of the pastries in the wider Mediterranean region. Hospitality and sharing are two concepts that emerge through this project and, at the same time, define it. Especially the pastries, that is something more than the actual nutritional need, being this ‘something more’, shapes cultural relations either as dessert or as a treat or as an exchange.
We selected the pie as a transformed pastry, as an object which operates around the concepts of hospitality, exchange, involvement. The pie comes from the rural, livestock-farming areas of Greece. Also it is found in various nomadic tribes associated with the Greek territory (Sarakatsans, Syrrakiotes, Vlachs). For the pie the saying “necessity is the mother of invention» is true, as it is prepared by primary materials: oil, flour, cheese, butter, eggs, herbs, honey (for sweet pies), fruit, nuts etc. In later years filo pastry is added in the recipe (very thin dough) whose secrets were “dowry” from mother to daughter. Depending on the region, season, and the particular occasions (celebrations, weddings etc) the pie is transformed into savory or sweet, baked in the oven or fried constituting the main food in the poor environment of Greece.
The need for the nomads to move, made the preparation of complex foods difficult so the pie was a perfect nutritional solution. Nomads like Sarakatsans made a sweet pie from a mixture of flour, butter, honey (in later years sugar) and sometimes from fruit, which they fried. Sweet pies were customary to make at celebrations such as at the beginning of the summer solstice and the feast of St. George.
The pie is directly related to various villages’ customs of continental and insular Greece. Also for the pie there are many popular proverbs. “Fanouropita” is made on the day of St. Phanourios to reveal lost things. The Vasilopita (New Year’s pie) is the pie prepared on New Year ’s Eve and is cut (shared) exactly at midnight. A key characteristic of vasilopita is that a golden coin, (Constantinato) or silver or simple, is put inside it.
Ancient Greeks served as a dessert sweet and savory pies made from honey, cheese and oil. A particularly renowned food was mytlotos, a pie with cheese mixed with honey and garlic.
An interesting feature is also its shape which is formed depending on the circumstances and the motifs that sometimes decorate its surface.
In our suggestion we had as a basis a sweet pie with ingredients mentioned in recipes of ancient Greece and the Greek tradition such as the honey-pie from Sifnos island, a sweet prepared in celebrations such as Easter.
We suggested preparing the dessert in abstract votive sculptures made from paper inspired by symbols of ancient deities of hospitality.
In ancient Greece hospitality is an important element of social life and is considered sacred. Zeus, the leader of the Olympian gods, is referred as the patron of hospitality (Xenios Zeus), Artemis goddess of diversity and Hermes protector of strangers, travelers and hospitality. Myths like that of Filimonas and Vafkidas and the one of Agrius and Oreius show that hospitality is rewarded and non-compliance with it is severely punished.
Recipe (for 6-8 people)
4 eggs – 50 g. of fine sugar – 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour – 500 g of fresh myzithra cheese or ricotta cheese – 60 ml of thyme honey – 70gr of Corinth raisins – 70gr of grated nuts – 1/2 teaspoon of crushed cinnamon.
Preheat the oven at 180 Celsius. Put a baking pan in the oven to warm it up. Beat the eggs in a bowl, add the sugar, flour and beat until a smooth mixture is created. Add the cheese, honey, nuts, raisins and half the amount of the cinnamon and mix well. Pour the mixture into the mould and smooth the surface with a knife. Put the mould on the preheated baking pan and bake the pie for 50-60 minutes, until it gets golden. Remove it from the oven and sprinkle, while still warm, with the rest of cinnamon.
Construction of shapes/moulds
For the shape of the dessert we suggest votive abstract sculptures which are based on ancient deities of hospitality and diversity and made out of paper. The pie is placed inside them and receives a similar shape.
With this action our goal is to get in touch with communities enabling the sweet to transform and change through their recipes and suggestions, eventually expanding the concepts of hospitality and exchange.