I am Marios, born and bred in Patras Achaia, with origin from a village called Vassiliko Achaias (formerly Brakoumadi). This is a beautiful village in the municipality of Erymanthos, located in western Achaia. I grew up in Patras and also in the village, where for all the children was a place of joy, relaxation, play but also intense rural activities. That is the reason why I maintain such strong memories of all rural life of my parents and grandparents in those years…
I remember my father and my grandfather collecting the olives by hand or with the “tsougrani” (rake), such as my grandma used to call it, fill the burlap sacks and transfer them to the local olive press. The harvest process lasted for months. And we, as children, helped as much as we could in this difficult but beautiful and productive work. The first oil was given to us by grandma served on freshly baked bread with sugar to make us “toned” and “strong”! All food dishes of my grandma had a rich aroma of fresh oil (also plenty of it… as it is used throughout the Peloponnese!). What can I say about our olives, hard, spicy and delicious olives with just the right brine, and our own homemade vinegar (which was my grandfather’s secret recipe!).
Our village is a blessed area, grandpa George used to say… Nothing was missing; every season had its gifts. When the summer approached, the estate was filled with the scent of roses, aromatic and colorful flowers everywhere! Ultimate beauty around the whole place that made our homes and our lives wonderful!
Grandma, also used to add the pleasant roses’ aroma, secretly and discreetly in to her handmade soaps, made from rainwater, ash from the fireplace and pure virgin olive oil!
During the same season, all trees filled with fruits, the fig trees were growing, the walnut trees grew, and the orange trees were weighing up! We used to cut oranges and tangerines directly from the trees and liked to drink the freshly squeezed orange juice that was red like blood! An incredible taste!… My mother had a passion for making fruit jams and spoon fruit sweets. Fig and orange marmalade, spoon sweet with fig and quince…. cakes and tarts made with strawberry jam…
My grandma, for power and energy, she preferred to give us delicious traditional trahana and hilopites (cut noodles) made of fresh, local milk, fresh eggs and lots of love!. Grandpa Giorgos cultivated strawberries, but only a few for us, his grandchildren.
I remember when the right time of the year arrived, he used to cut them directly from the strawberry bush and offered them to us. They were small, red, juicy, full of sweetness and aroma! My father Giannis, had a passion for the bees and the beehives; a perfect civilization he used to say. He used to offer this special “honey of life” to friends and family with a very simple process. Whoever wanted some honey, he came to our home with his tin; my father filled the tin with honey directly from the honeycombs. With simplicity, and always with love….
All the above were the purest gifts from Greek nature that were generously given to us the people… Absolute luck and happiness!