Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mama's tsourekia

Ok we all have heard it, “ my Mother was the best cook,” “nobody can make meatballs like my Mother,”
“ She made the best mousaka,” etc. etc. Mama was the best blah, blah.

I wonder, did anybody have a Mother that was a lousy cook? Will anybody fess up to having a Mother that could not boil water? There have to be some out there.

 Nevertheless it seems all Greek mothers are, or were great cooks.

I will continue in the same vein, Mama was a great cook…especially at tsourekia, and her koulouria were pretty sensational as well. They say people are either good cooks or good bakers, Mom was good at both, but she was a great baker, as my size when I was a kid will confirm.

The tsoureki is the traditional Easter cake, made with a hardboiled egg, dyed red as decoration some times.
 Mama made hers in a twisted version as well as the more traditional round shape. I remember the smell that permeated the apartment; actually the whole building had that amazing aroma. The neighbors knew that something great was in the making, if they played their cards right would get a tsoureki, actually they all got one.

My wife Jeannine is a spectacular cook, creative and always experimenting, even she agrees, Mama’s tsourekia were great. She has no idea why Mama’s were so great.

Mama was from Asia Minor, and learned to really cook from a Sicilian neighbor that lived downstairs, sounds like a pretty great combination of skills and tastes, maybe that was the secret.

We have eaten them all over the world, many Jeannine made, relatives have made them…we bought them in bakeries in Greek areas of NY, London as well as in Greece itself. Good ones, delicious ones…never great ones, at least not like Mama’s. I have no idea if this taste and aroma is in my mind or if it was real, I want to hope it was real, Jeannine agrees that they were spectacular. She might just be encouraging my fantasies.

Pining for great tsoureki might be a little shallow, maybe I am pining for a time gone by and the tsoureki is some baked symbol of that time, how come I didn’t pick something like baklava or cataifi.



  1. nice ... yes, my Mama makes a mean tsoureki - and that's about it. (Cooking skipped a generation there!) Her secret is malhep and a lot of eggs! I actually video taped her making it. No recipe ... just adding stuff till it "felt" right.

  2. Ah, the Greek tsoureki....What is it about that sweet bread that when made well is devine and sooo aromatic....it's true, Greg's mom never measured anything, having made it so many times she knew when the mix was just right, the correct amount of malhep and mastic, too much mastic and it could leave a bitter after taste....So practiced at her craft it was a joy to watch her in the process of making and baking. For her the joy was in the giving to friends and neighbors alike. A real labor of love. And boy was it ever so delicious.
    How lucky you are Maria to have your mom on film making it.

  3. is that you greg in the picture?

  4. Interestingly and predictably, my Mum's tsoureki was amazing too...she was taught to cook by someone from Mikrasia, so I guess it was the methodology. Mum was such a great cook that my cooking never ever could measure up... good thing too, as my husband is the chef in our family, and he's great at it!

    1. Everybody's Mom makes great tsourekia...Mikrasia might be the secret. How's is your husbands tsoureki?

  5. We also love tsoureki... few days ago we bought one at the Athenian Grocery, Bayswater (London) after lighting a candle at Saint Sophia's (Greek Cathedral) on the same road (Moscow Road)... great at breakfast with butter, Attiki meli and a metrio...