Cara craved the smell of browning butter in the quiet kitchen. Every night that she crept past the table, her stomach yearned for food from her childhood—a time when there was plenty, when keftethes were always paired with makaronia. She remembered having meat every week. Now they were lucky to have it once a month.
She settled in a wooden chair at the meager table. Only bruised fruit waited to be eaten. Her stomach soured in the dark room. She could smell the sickly sweet fruit more than she could see it, as the moon was only a sliver tonight.
Cara sighed. And immediately after, someone else repeated her sigh. With a quick flick of her head, her eyes found the dim outline of Mamma leaning against the door's frame.
“Mamma! You scared me!” Cara started, thankful for the darkness that hid her blushed cheeks proving a guilty countenance.
“Cara.” Her voice was deep and rumbling. Knowing.
“What are you doing up so late?” Cara shifted in her seat.
“What are you doing up so late?” Her matera repeated the question as she walked to the table and slid into a chair.
How thin Mamma had become. It didn't suit her. She looked older and more haggered. Cara loved the plump, energetic image of Mamma from the years before.
“I am hungry.” Cara spoke the truth.
The above excerpt is from my rough draft historical novel that takes place in my grandmother's Greek village during World War II. The Lampros family fled Frangista when the Nazis burned down their house. One thing that my yiayia brought to America was her family's recipes. My little yiayia cooks and cooks, even at ninety years old. An all time favorite recipe is what we've coined, “Greek Spaghetti” ("makaronia" from above; "keftethes" are Greek meatballs). It is super easy to make and an explosion of flavor. And an added bonus, my kids LOVE it! Please enjoy the following recipe, and know it originates from a little village nestled in the mountains of Greece.
Yiayia's Greek Spaghetti (Makaronia)
1 lb. of spaghetti
1 block of Athenos Original Feta Cheese (crumble it yourself, it's more moist than the pre-crumbled)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 stick of butter
2 Tbsp. of tomato paste
1 cup of water
1 large pinch of cinnamon
Boil spaghetti. While it's boiling, brown half a stick of butter. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water. Return to pot. Pour in browned butter, crumbled block of feta, and desired amount of parmesan...toss carefully, don't smash the feta too much. Leave lid on pot to keep warm.
Brown the rest of the butter. Meanwhile, mix water, tomato paste, and cinnamon. It should be a soupy sauce. The cinnamon is my favorite flavor in this, so be sure you can taste it in the sauce. Pour this mixture into the browned butter, stir, let simmer for 10 min. or until thickened. Pour this into the pasta and mix carefully so all pasta has sauce on it. Serve warm!