“Mrs Rena is a very good cook. She has many secrets and her speciality is making things with red sauce. She is very well known for this”. Rena’s food has a reputation among the Kos Town community. While drinking my coffee this morning, owners of Mikro Cafe, Giorgos and his wife Katerina, told me they were neighbours of Rena before she moved to Lagoudi Village; often eating all together during Sunday lunch.
Since moving to Lagoudi, Rena is neighbours with her cousin Dionysia. Situated between their houses, is a garden where Dionysia grows vegetables for both families; eggplant, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes. Dionysia and her husband Antonis, also breed roosters; one of which Antonis prepared for Rena’s Kokoras Krasatos. Using local ingredients grown by friends and family is very important to Rena, as is purchasing commercial products sourced from Greece and owned by Greek companies. Such products usually display a certification logo with the Greek flag, demonstrating their Greek origin. Many Greek people exclusively purchase these products as a means of supporting their economy and national industry. Mrs Rena proudly took a packet of thick spaghetti from her panty and exclaimed: “See this is Greek pasta!”
Kokoras Krasatos is considered ‘special occasion’ food and is traditionally eaten on Christmas day, particularly as means to break the fast, practised for forty days before Christmas. Rena sometimes cooks Kokoras Krasatos for Sunday lunch; one of the most important meals of the week; a time where her family and close friends eat together.
Rena’s kitchen channels a French provincial aesthetic. The space is host to both her meal gatherings, a tribute to her attention to detail, and to her love of decorating. Rena previously owned a children’s clothing boutique for 25 years and one of her favourite activities was designing the window displays at Christmas time. Rena’s attention to detail is also symbolised through her catering to the specific tastes friends and family. For her guests, Rena had cola light for Dimitra, special sugar for Mary and, on this occasion, Rena used less pepper in her Kokoras Krasatos to suit to the taste of friend’s husband.
Kokoras Krasato (Rooster in Red Wine)
2 Cups of olive oil
1 Rooster in pieces
One onion chopped in pieces
2 Cloves of garlic (whole)
1 Cup red wine (traditionally, dry red is used but Mrs Rena prefers to use sweet red wine)
300g Tomato juice
One spoon tomato paste (dissolved in a cup of warm water)
1 Cinnamon stick
2 Bay leaves
Sprinkle of general spices
Sprinkle of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
In large saucepan, heat one cup of oil on low heat and add the rooster pieces
Gently seal the meat until it turns a golden white. It is important to not pierce the skin – use blunt instruments to handle the meat
Remove the meat from the pan and fry chopped onion in the second cup of olive oil
Add garlic cloves
Once the onion has slightly browned – introduce the meat in layers
Place the herbs in between the pieces of meat
After a few minutes add: tomato juice, 3 cups of water, tomato paste, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar
Allow to simmer for approximately one hour and stand before serving.
Traditionally served with thick spaghetti