I’m nostalgic lately, dreaming about summer picnics at the beach from my childhood. The beaches were not called beach clubs yet! They were all virgin with clean sand, no restaurants, bars or coffee houses, not even long chairs. There were long tables on the sand with clean white tablecloths and wood chairs under cedar trees offering much needed shade and breeze. It was an untouched like a private beach!
My mother and my friends’ mothers were cooking the best summer food for these picnics three or four times per week all summer long! I think at this point, our mothers were culinary champions!
In the late 70’s and 80’s, there were those bamboo picnic/market baskets painted with some flowers on the sides. I don’t know why but I loved those oval shape baskets. All the food was packed in them and I always volunteered to carry one because it smelled soo good!
The menu was mainly composed with stuffed vegetables including zucchini flowers, pan-fried eggplants and peppers with sauteed fresh tomato on top of them, small meatballs (we call them picnic köfte), home style thick fries, at least 4-5 different kind of börek (spinach, cheese or meat stuffed filo dough, mostly cooked in the oven but sometimes fried too), roast chicken and/or fish sandwiches, green salads, tomato-cucumber salads, some more veggies cooked slowly in olive oil, yogurt, bean salad, boiled eggs, feta and other local cheeses, figs, grapes, melons, peaches, deserts, home made cookies for tea time…
While mothers were setting the table we were running to the sea. The sand was very hot and the water was quite cold, I loved the sensation of meeting these extreme feelings. We played and swam until our stomachs started growling, then we ran to the table and devoured everything with great pleasure.
The Aegean Sea is very salty so when you get out of the water, a thin layer of salt dries and sticks to your skin. My favorite moment was (still is) eating a piece of cold, juicy and sweet watermelon with the taste of the sea salt on my lips. That’s why I always serve watermelons with savory vinaigrette and/or cheeses in my menus during the summer.
After a typical fun day of playing, swimming and over eating, I remember the pleasure of being totally knocked down by the time to go back home. We were exhausted, full and salty! And dreaming about to coming back to the beach next day!
I realize more and more how it was such a paradise growing up in a small town of Aegean Sea coast. Yes, I’m nostalgic lately!
** Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of those days, the picture above is a recent view of one of the beaches that I grew up playing. The picture belongs to http://www.turchese.it/strutture/info.php?id=1&anno=2014