Spanakorizo with Mrs Kyriakoula – Marrickville

In her garage-kitchen, Mrs Kyriakoula Petrakis cooks up to four meals every day for different family members.  Since arriving in Australia from Greece with her husband in 1967, Mrs Kyriakoula has lived in the same Marrickville House, where she raised three children and several grandchildren. During the early 1970’s, not owning a car meant her family had no use for the garage and driveway, and decided to convert the garage into a kitchen. The transformation of space preserved the inside kitchen and the larger area allowed for the accommodation of more people. The garage-kitchen is fully equipped with an industrial size deep freezer, separate standing fridge, kitchen table, floor to ceiling cabinet, stove and sink fit out, and ornate tile splash back.

Forty years later, although the family now own a car and their children have long moved out, the garage-kitchen and driveway remain integral spaces for cooking, eating and family gatherings.  “We ate and we lived here and outside. The house inside is always immaculate. Birthdays, Christmas and Easter – everyone meets here. This is our place.” –  Dina, Mrs Kyriakoula’s daughter.

By the time I had arrived at Mrs Kyriakoula’s home at midday, she had already cooked Fasolada (white bean stew) for a cousin, and had begun Spanakorizo preparations for me. In the afternoon Mrs Kyriakoula would make Kima (mince meat) for her grandchildren’s after school meal. Later that evening, Mrs Kyriakoula would cook dinner for her loving husband, who repeatedly referred to her as “my beautiful wife”.

Although Mrs Kyriakoula was suffering from muscular leg pain that day, she was adamant to continue her daily cooking ritual. While simmering the Spanakorizo, Mrs Kyriakoula asked her daughter to place a chair next to the stove in order to rest her legs while she intermittently stirred the rice. This is not an image of a woman who is idle, but that of one who spends most of her time standing.


Kyriakoula’s Spanakorizo (Spinach Rice)


2-3 Bunches of fresh spinach

2 Spring onions finely diced

Dill – to taste

Small brown onion – diced

Continental Parsley – to taste

Mint – to taste

1 Celery stick – diced

2-3 Tablespoons of tomato paste

Garlic clove

Olive Oil as needed

3/4 cup of rice

Salt and Pepper to taste


Saute spinach in a deep fry pan with 2-3 tablespoons of Olive oil

Once the spinach has lost its bulk, add spring onion, brown onion, herbs, celery and garlic

Cook on low heat until fragrant

Add salt, pepper and tomato paste

Simmer until fully combined

Add rice and stir until fully combined

Simmer for 15 minutes adding water if needed.  Stand to cool and thicken before serving