A year-long diary set in LONDON
Memoir set in Greece (the power of the tomato)
27th April 2015
Afternoons In Ithaka by Spiri Tsintziras, memoir set in Greece.
From the beautiful cover, to the delicious sounding blurb about it, this book could have been written especially for me. I am a huge fan of Greece – the people, the food, the stories, the sunshine – everything about the wonderful country delights me. I’m also passionate about food, about great ingredients and how to use them, so a book that combines Greece and food really is my idea of perfection.
Spiri Tsintziras grew up in Australia, her parents emigrated from Greece and made their home thousands of miles away. Despite this, her childhood and her upbringing was Greek – her Mother speaks very little English, her Father is traditionally over-protective, and she was surrounded by members of her extended family and natives of Greece.
Afternoons In Ithaka is a pure delight to read. Set out as part memoir, part recipe book and part history, it is quite unusual, but makes a change from other books in the same genre. Spiri is a talented author, she writes with ease and becomes something of a friend to the reader. This is her coming-of-age story and she hides nothing. The reader accompanies her as she rebels against her overbearing father, as she discovers men, as she flits from place to place. She often disappoints her family, they would have liked nothing better than for Spiri to settle down with a nice Greek boy whilst she was still very young. Instead, Spiri led her own life, she was determined to see things and do things, and although, in the end, she did conform (well, almost – her husband is Maltese, not Greek!), she had many adventures over the years.
Whilst Spiri’s life story is interesting, it is the delicious food element that really made the book. Her descriptions of her Mother, her Grandmother and her Aunt’s food, and the recipes included alongside are wonderful. Mouth watering and oh so familiar. I think that I’ve tasted most of the dishes that she describes and the craving for proper Greek tomatoes; red and luscious and juicy was absolute torture to me. I could almost smell the lamb on the spit, the souvlaki and the herbs, and I was dreaming about the sweet honey dripping cakes and pastries.
Afternoons In Ithaka is a fabulous read, even if you’ve never been to Greece you will still love this one. Food and culture, mixed with current affairs and language and music – a winning combination. I enjoyed every page.
Anne Cater for the TripFiction team
Thank you to Anne Cater for this review. Her knowledge of Greece is extensive and she is our go-to Guest Blogger when we have books to review which are set there. Do follow her general and brilliant book reviews via her blog and catch up with her on Twitter.