My Greek Table, Season 4 is here! I am super excited, as I hope you can all imagine. This season, I’ll be bringing my viewers along for a ride to explore the Greek landscape, especially its people, history, traditions, and local culture – all through the lens of the country’s fantastic food. I’ll dig deep into fascinating Greek wines, while also introducing you all to uniquely Greek flavors and varieties.
As always, My Greek Table will take you right into the heart of the action – and this season, we’re heading to 3 different mainland Greek cities. In Greece’s de facto culinary capital, Thessaloniki, we’ll take a look at the Jewish history and Sephardic cooking prevalent throughout the country’s second biggest city. The whole time, I’ll be exploring the fascinating cuisine of the complex Greek diaspora that settled here over centuries, and one that has brought Greek food to new heights. I’ll also head to Ioannina, in Greece’s picturesque northwest. Here, bucolic scenery and pastoral traditions are omnipresent. I have the chance to bake a traditional pie in the way that the local shepherds do–over embers in the ground–and to try many of the lake specialties prominent in the city, like frogs’ legs and clay-baked eel.
But the season kicks off with an exploration of Athens, most notably an exploration of my new neighborhood. (You can have a peek at the first episode of season 4 right here.) I spend time wandering through Kerameikos with one of the city’s most lauded urban chroniclers, journalist, historian, and friend Nikos Vatopoulos, walking and learning about its history. And there is plenty to learn and explore in this area, just a stone’s throw from the bustling downtown markets that form the life pulse of the capital.As a thank you, I cook him lunch, a great meal of spiced roasted chicken, toasted orzo, a kale caesar and an easy dessert in the form of a crispy phyllo sundae.
The name “Kerameikos” refers to the neighborhood’s origins as the potters’ quarter of the ancient city, and in fact, “kerameikos” is the origin of our English word, ceramics. It is also named for the son of Dionysos and Ariadne, Keramos, and it’s the site of the city’s most important ancient cemetery, which dates all the way back to the 12th century BC. In that time, burial traditions involved small ceramics, and they continued to grow until ultimately the 4th century, when the mayor at the time, Demetrios of Phaleron, passed a law forbidding more ornate grave monuments.
The cemetery isn’t the only ancient site to be found in my new ‘hood. The ancient city’s wide, double gates, or dipylon, were located in Kerameikos, wide enough for chariots to pass through. The gate marks the start of the “sacred way,” or “iera odos,” which leads to Elefsis, a sacred site where the Eleusian mysteries were held every September.
The nearby neighborhood of Metaxourgeio had equally illustrious beginnings. It was originally meant to be the site of the Royal Palace in the 1830s, which drew an influx of people rushing to build in the area. But it went from a chic, upscale neighborhood to a working-class area with the arrival of the silk factory (“metaxi” is Greek for “silk”).
Fast-forward to today: this whole area has undergone yet another rebirth, as a hub of artistic, cultural and culinary activity in the heart of Athens. Whether you’re looking for trendy galleries, some of the best souvlaki you can find in the city, or a late night out, you can find it in Kerameikos-Metaxourgeio. It’s a real neighborhood, a mirror of the city itself, which is what I love about it!
All of these points – culture, cuisine, history, stunning natural beauty, urban sophistication and more – come up continually throughout this season, across all the cities I explore. And the recipes I cook for you or search out embrace the healthy, mostly– but not exclusively plant-based mentality that so much Greek cooking embodies. My Greek Table airs across almost all of the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia, China, and Greece. We air on Create Channel across the USA, too, and on Amazon Prime in the UK and USA. For more details on streaming options, click here. And to find where and when it is airing in your area, click here.