Explore the Greek Cuisine in an Immigrant’s Kitchen

Despina-EconomouEvery New Yorker knows that if you want really good Greek food, you’ve got to go to the borough of Queens. The many exquisite restaurants located there offer a variety of Greek plates, giving the clients a small taste of Greece. But if you want to actually learn the secrets of authentic Greek cooking, then you should head to the two-bedroom apartment belonging to Despina Economou.

Economou is member of a new cooking school called the “League of Kitchens.” The teachers are immigrants with some crazy cooking skills, using their own kitchens as classrooms and introducing the interested students to their respective ethnic cuisine.

In the NYC small kitchen of Economou, the students get to cook dishes like “tourlou” (baked vegetables), lentil soup, “gigantes” (white baked beans), semolina halva and Greek “tyropita” (cheese pie in phyllo dough crust).

“I love to cook. I cook every day,” said Economou, who emigrated from Greece to the U.S. in 1972, planning to stay in the country for only a couple of years. She then met her husband who is also Greek and the two years turned into 42.

Economou said that although feeling very American, the cooking style of her homeland is still very close to her heart. Being inside the Greek’s kitchen is almost like becoming family; doing the dishes, picking up the telephone and of course, engaging in kitchen gossip about lazy husbands!

The idea for the League of Kitchens was thought up by a native New Yorker, Lisa Gross, who thought about having housewives from all over the world teaching their family recipes and cooking with students in their own home kitchens.

As of today, instructors of this original cooking school come from Greece, Afghanistan, South Korea, India, Bangladesh and Lebanon.


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