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Petra Kouzina and Sailing

September 17, 2022

I think we’d all agree that our cooking class at Petra Kouzina was the highlight of the week. Our chef, Georgios, worked and studied in the US before meeting his Chilean wife, having three children and converting an old family home into a fabulous cooking school outside of town. Family photos and artifacts grace the walls and tables, adding to the warm feeling of being in someone’s home. His able assistant, Dina, began pouring Assyrtiko as soon as we arrived, and the wine kept flowing for the next several hours. We prepared another version of tzatziki, tomato fritters, moussaka and Santorini salad, and enjoyed our lunch on the shaded patio. In addition to the recipes, Georgio gave us some valuable tips: about selecting eggplants (who knew there were males and females? And that the females are more bitter?); correct chopping techniques; preserving minced garlic in oil; the right kind of yoghurt to buy, not just for tzatziki, but to eat; and the beauty of Himalayan pink salt.

On our last day, Jeri and I went on a catamaran cruise in the caldera, while Barb, Vickie and Ruth (none of who much like boats) rented a car and returned to Oia. The sun, as ever, was intense, but refreshing breezes kept us comfortable. We stopped a few times so people could swim (Jeri and I demurred, preferring to lounge onboard and sip our wine.) Lexi, one of our captains, was engaging and informative, as well as remarkably agile as she scampered across the decks despite the waves rocking the craft. Our Albanian driver, Marios, skillfully piloted the Anna Maria across the wake of a big ferry that passed us. And the chef, whose name I have forgotten, worked a miracle in the tiny galley, frying fish, sautéing chicken and giant shrimps, and crafting delicious spaghetti and Santorini salad.

From the water you can appreciate how massive the volcano was that gave the island its current shape. Originally a round island, the Minoan eruption in 1600 B.C. (the same one that buried Akrotiri) reshaped Santorini so that it now resembles a right arm bent at the elbow, with the remains of the volcano in the center. Pumice and marble are among the minerals that form dramatic striations along the cliff sides. The tsunami that accompanied the eruption devastated Crete, which is about 70 miles to the south, and ash was carried on the wind across the eastern Mediterranean. Some scholars posit that the eruption inspired Plato to create the story of the lost city of Atlantis; Lexi told us that some experts believe the next big eruption will occur in this decade! In any event, Santorini and the other Greek islands form a “ring of fire” similar to the ring of volcanic activity in the Pacific, and we are sitting in a highly active earthquake zone.

Back at the hotel, Jeri and I reunited with our friends for a last glass of wine to toast our adventure and talk about where we might go next. For me, the answer is Crete, where I’m meeting up with my friend Sharon for the cooking school postponed from 2020 by Covid. Can’t wait!

One Comment
  1. I would have definitely opted for the boat for a last day adventure! As always, Thanks for taking us along!

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