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(Hamin = oven) Our memory’s DNA in 3 short stories by a tourist guide.
Story 1. One of the memories I have when I was about 9 or 10 years old is me and my mother going down town for shopping. Usually it was clothes or shoes for me. It was like a ritual cause after we finished I could have something to eat before returning back home. I remember one time that my mother bought a hardboiled egg from a shop near the Flower Market and gave me a bite. She told me to taste it as it was delicious. Well I wasn’t as thrilled as my mother. I said its ok but I prefer the gyro place at the next corner. What I didn’t know then was that this was my first taste of the Sephardic cuisine.
Story 2. Years went by, and in the Course for Tourist Guides I got to know much more about the great Jewish Legacy of Thessaloniki. The second group that arrived in 1492 from Spain (Sephardic) joined the ancient Jewish community of the town that settled here in late Hellenistic era (Romaniotes) and through the centuries formed one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe.
After some more years, one of the walking tours that we organized in winter had to do with the “Ευ Ζην” of the Thessalonians. This thematic tour presented the restaurants, cafés, cinemas, theaters, gastronomy etc of the town from the 19th to the early 20th cen. At the end of the tour participants had the opportunity to taste some food that was prepared and kindly offered by the Jewish and Armenian Communities of Thessaloniki, and local historic Pastry or food making companies, famous for their recipes and some of ours and our mothers’ cooking. The tour was of great success and people asked to repeat it every year for few more years.
So I had to taste the uevos haminados that I have learned that it was a characteristic Sephardic snack.
And ….the moment I got the first bite, the image of my mother holding and eating an egg while shopping, came to my mind! An instantly joyful memory of my childhood years and that particular time that we spend with my mother. Gastronomy always is a big part of our memories and this is what I call our memory DNA. So every now and then, I try to trigger memories with food and experience my town’s history, my history.
Story 3. Few years ago I saw the cookbook “A taste of Sephardic Thessaloniki” by Nina Benroubi. And here are the famous eggs – uevos haminados that I prepared at home.
10 eggs, onion skins of about 20 onions, cinnamon sticks, Greek coffee, tea leaves, little bit of cooking oil, vinegar. All in the pot, covered with water and just before boiling, lower the heat to the lowest setting and let them simmer for about 8 hours. Add water if necessary.
Kali orexi, buen apetito!