Great sorrow prevails on Mount Athos – and not only – for the repose in the Lord of monk Epiphanios, the “Cook of Mount Athos”.
Epiphanios humbly highlighted the traditional cuisine and life of Mount Athos.
As reported by protothema.gr, in an interview seven years ago with the newspaper “Ta Nea”, after being asked how he got involved in cooking, Epiphanios replied “I liked to stand next to my mother and see how she cooked, to taste and smell the food, to peel potatoes and generally to help her. I was the only one of the five brothers who did that.”
He stayed in the kitchen for eight years. He liked cooking – and as he had said in an interview with “Gastronomos” of Kathimerini “apparently, those who were eating also liked it. Since then, even if I had another job, I would be called to cook during celebrations and festivals. At festivals you have to cook for a lot of people, sometimes over 1,000 people. To make it through, it is not enough to have culinary knowledge. You have to be more of a commander in order to manage 20 people – if one makes a mistake; he has ruined your food”.
Which dish did his guests prefer? As he used to say, “Grouper from Mount Athos with white sauce. I leave the pieces of fish in semi-coarse salt for 3-4 hours. I boil it on a very high heat, I skim, add onions cut into thin slices, garlic cloves, peppercorns, oil and I let it boil for about an hour. At the end I add lemon juice and chopped parsley”.
What were his favorite ingredients in the kitchen? “When I do not have onions, I feel like my hands are tied. I also use oil and lemon regularly and I love wine, which is food, it is not drunk for pleasure”.
What was Epiphanios’ advice to an amateur cook? “Do not add too much salt because it does not come out of the food.”
He never made meat himself – and was strongly opposed to soy and animal fats. He loved Italian and French cuisine for their intense flavors and he found interest in Chinese and Mexican cuisine as well.
Even though the Mount Athos grouper has been the dish that the pilgrims craved, he considered octopus soup to be his most characteristic recipe: “I boil octopuses and cut them into cubes, I boil potatoes, carrots, onions and celery separately in water with oil, I add noodles and the octopus, the octopus juice, grated tomato and pulp, dill, parsley, vinegar and spices (cumin, salt, pepper) and when the soup is ready I add lemon juice ”.