Diet issues in the previous decades compared to nowdays (5th interview)
We now start our 5th interview and with us today are Ms. Popi Livaniou and Ms. Antonia Chatzigianni, both Halki residents to talk to us about diet issues in the previous decades compared to nowdays.
- Antonia, can you please inform us on the diet habits of Halki residents?
Our eating habits were then very healthy because food was our own production. Here in Halki we used to cultivate things like beans and other legumes, we had oil which is central to our diet, wheat, our flour, we had our own production of lentils, we had fava which we produced at the mill, we were cutting it, the “maerema” as we called the process. All these were local produce. I remember tgat we were cutting the wheat and we were heading to the shredding floor to the animals. We had really the raw materials necessary, otherwise there would be no possibility of living back then.
- Did you bring extra food from other areas apart from what you cultivated here in the island?
We used to bring food from Rhodes, but it was not usually affordable to buy it. Lentils for example came from trade too, but most of us ate our own. Because we were dealing with agriculture and animal husbandry, most of us had our own yogurt, our milk, and our eggs. But those who were not farmers, were buying milk from their fellow villagers. I remember my mother bought eight glasses of yoghurt and then our breakfast at school was not sandwiches but local yogurt. The meat was of local produce, our fish too and they were also present in abundance and at good prices.
- Were there many fishermen at the island at the time?
Many more compared to nowdays.
- Antonia, how about some local food specialties, were there any?
Our specialties are the ones we were traditionally making, like lentils with rice, onion pies because we had onion, flour, oil, mint, then we made the pies and the kids ate them because a farmer’s house had these materials. Also it is fava, which we made it plain and also with rice as a supplement, bread that we made ourselves, the Chalki spaghetti with roasted onion and cheese on top. We boiled rice and we made pies whenit was baked in the oven and stirred into flour. The vegetable pies. The sweet thing I remember was not chocolate but dried figs and toasted in the oven and then we put on sesame and maintained themthroughout the year. The prickly as sweet and school Ms. Tallinna used to make creams and cornflour and caramel, and also sugary water and lemon and then the mix was all put on a surface that froze and after we ate the sweet ice cubes like a lollipop.
- So Popi, imagine that you were offered all these different dishes that were just presented. Would you eat any of these or would you prefer to go to a taverna?
Due to a change of lifestyle now, yes, I would go to the restaurant. They were different years and other views back then. Of course today I will eat macaroni and Chalkiti pasta and lentils with rice. We honor our old dishes. No one anymore makes candy however, because now it is very easy to find it, despite the difference in the quality and purity of products. Just because of a different lifestyle now, people have moved away from the traditional preparation of dishes.
- In this place someone can still find these kinds of dishes at his/her family house, but this is not done in big cities. For example one cannot have a hen that lays fresh eggs, is that right?
Fortunately for us here in Halki we have still stable values in eating too and the fresh fish and fresh berries are easy to get. For example, it is inconceivable in Halki even someone young to eat fish or eggs or even lamb that is not local.
- Do you have anything to add Antonia?
We have an obligation to impose the eating habits we had back then to younger generations. I believe that children are slowly realizing that the sandwich, gyros, the potato crisp (chips), the prawn, can only harm them. Concerning my own family we have succeeded on that at an 80 percent. I do make the efforts even with a little piece of land, with a garden etc., to grow some broccoli, a few eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers. And the children love this. It is vital.
- Thank you very much.