Patricia's account of her marriage to a Greek man is really quite something. I couldn't put it down. This, unusually, is not a recommendation. I kept turning the pages waiting for things to get better for her. I held out hope for a while that she wouldn't marry Gregori, although I could see from her name that she'd been married to a Greek at some point. Then I held out hope that the marriage wouldn't last long so she could be happy. No luck. Just when things start to look up, the book ends.
One bit I did find amusing, though, were all Gregori's cousins, because it reminded me of the 1980s "Con the Fruiterer" sketches on Australian TV, where he talks about his daughters Roula, Toula, Soula, Voula, Foula and Agape.
Unusually for a "food memoir" I can't think of a single positive association with food in the book. This is not a book of lavish feasts bringing families together. Constipation from toasted white bread sandwiches on her first trip to Greece, food used to control and manipulate when Patricia and Gregori's families first meet, Gregori's dismay at the story of the puttanesca recipe, Gregori's friend being rude and dismissive over hamburgers, etiquette dances surrounding biscuits at his uncle's name day, Gregori cooking beans every day in protest, criticising her salad making... it is all food as a weapon, lacking joy.
What, then, to cook to represent this book? I thought about making some good Greek food. A delicate and delectable galaktoboureko, a nourishing, cheesy spanakopita, a life-enhancing platter of meze to share with loved ones.
But finally I decided to make a simple tisane. Dried lemon balm and fresh mint, infused in boiling water until fragrant and served with a touch of honey. Good for the digestion, soothing for the soul.