The Perfect Setting, Part Two
The Village. How does the “oikodespoina” (mistress of the house) present her finest for family and friends she gathers there?
Village life is intimate, and therefore by definitions it includes competition. Gentle, but serious, competition. For the village woman, the “nikokiris” or “oikodespoina,” (meaning the mistress of the house), this includes presenting to her family and friends the finest work of her hands – from her kitchen, and with her “tsiggelaki,” the needle she uses to embroider or crochet the finest snow-white linen cloths she uses to present her food and drink on the table.
We know that the kourabie is the gold standard of Greek baking, of Greek confectionary.
Because every Greek is an individual, this means that each woman in the towns and in the numberless villages of the mainland and thes island where the rural population lives wants her kourabies to be the best. It’s a matter of pride.
How her kourabies is served is an equal matter of pride. This is why you see the kourabies “dressed” for the table in a village home with the finest specimens of the woman’s trousseau, in Greek it is her “prika,” the linens and embroideries prepared for, and treasured ever since, her wedding day.
Offering family members or guests a welcoming glass of water and a warming Greek coffee, accompanied by a sweet, requires a humble tray, plain glasses and simple white porcelain cups and plates; but it demands that the woman of the house has used her “tsiggeli” (needle) to embroider or crochet a fine white cloth on which she will present her refreshing water, coffee and delicious sweet, such as her finest kourabies. Whether the cloth is a “kofto” – open work embroidery – or uses a locally-inspired embroidery stitch, or is a work of lace itself, this is the woman’s triumph, as is her kourabies.