Monday, August 24, 2009

Naming the Day?

You've heard of Sieze the Day, right? But...have you heard of Name Day?

In the Greek culture, because you are given a Christian name (a religious name), you are also given a name day. Your name day comes on the same day every year as the day on which the saint or religious figure is celebrated in the Greek Orthodox Church. My name day is August 15th.

I celebrated my name day recently. It is the feast day of the falling asleep (not the death) or dormition of the Virgin Mary, or (as we call her in Greek) the Panayia (or Panaghia or Theotokos or...) The Greek tradition requires that you go to church, possibly receive communion and spend the remainder of the day at home to receive the well-wishes of visiting friends and family. Typically, you might be treated to a big celebration lunch at home or at a restaurant, where everyone would greet or toast you with Chronia Polla! This means "many years", the Greek equivalent of Long Life! or Good Health! or Here's to You! or May You Live Long & Prosper! in English.

After lunch, you wait for your visitors, some with small gifts and some with lots of trailing family members along to offer you good wishes and enjoy the tasty treats that you have to offer them. You might have baklava, kourabiethes, galaktoboureko, thiples or koulourakia; Greek coffee and water. You'll need a chaser of water after all that sweetness! In the Greek home, all are offered something sweet when they visit, and on holy days or name days, the home must be rich with all manner of extra pastries and cookies.

This is a simple and traditional Greek eggplant dish that might be served as part of a name day celebration. It has a Turkish name with the translation "the holy man swooned", as in swooned because this dish tasted so good!

2 large eggplants
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions chopped coarsely
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 (28 oz) can peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped (reserve juice)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon cinnamon
salt & pepper, to your taste

Method: Wash the eggplant, dry and cut in half length-wise. Cut off the stalk end; scoop out eggplant, leaving some "meat" near the eggplant shell. Sprinkle salt and pepper on all four halves, turn upside down on paper towels and set aside.
Coarsely chop eggplant "meat". Heat oil in large saucepan or deep frying pan, add garlic and onion and sauté lightly, then add chopped tomatoes, eggplant "meat" and parsley. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until everything is heated through and the eggplant is soft. Sprinkle the cinnamon, salt & pepper to suit your taste and stir. If mixture gets thick or begins to stick, add some of the juice from the tomatoes, 1/4 cup at a time. Allow mixture to cool then use to stuff eggplant halves.Place stuffed eggplant halves in oiled baking dish and bake in a 375 oven for about 35 to 45 minutes.
Option: Top with a bit of crumbled Feta cheese and return to the over long enough for the cheese to brown a bit.
To Serve: Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve one per person with crusty French bread and a salad of Romaine lettuce, cucumber and onions dressed with 1 T. white wine vinegar, 3 T. extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of dry oregano and a little salt and pepper.
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What is a name day? http://gogreece.about.com/od/folkloreevents/a/greeknamedays.htm
What is my name day about? http://www.aug.edu/augusta/iconography/dormition.html
For additional assorted recipes, visit my food blog, FOOD FOR THOUGHT, on the marvelous Maura O'Connell's website pages, http://mauraoconnell.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=223 To date, I've had 65,438 peeks at my recipes. Please take a listen to Maura's music while you're there.
To purchase a book of recipes, downloaded from my website, go to AlphaConnections.net

© 2009 Despina Panagakos Yeargin