Our Daughter’s Wedding in Greece

Each Greek Wedding has a flavor of its own, as anybody who has seen the movies, “Mamma Mia!” or “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” would know. So, it was with our daughter Cathy and her fiance Nicho’s Greek wedding.

It took place in front of a tiny chapel on a small island just off the coast of Paros. Chapels pop up in seemingly random places throughout the Greek countryside, often the only building around. The azure sea surrounded the tiny island with the white Chapel of St. Nicholas, itself barely 10 by 7 feet in size. Guests arrived on two boats and walked up the rocky terrain surrounded by wild garlic to the wedding site.

The door to the chapel was outlined with a laurel wreath. On the altar was a tray with two laurel wreaths and white Jordan almonds with the candy coating representing both the difficulties and sweetness of life and love.

Two Orthodox priests stood just outside the door to the chapel in their long garments. As parents, we sat on white cloth-covered benches, Dick and I on the bride’s side, Daphne and George on the groom’s. The wedding guests stood around behind us. The 7 pm sun, still hot, beat down on us. Luckily, a slight breeze wafted by occasionally.

After the blessing of the rings, the joining of the hands, the crowning of the couple, the offering of the wine to the couple from a common cup, the priests led Cathy and Nicho in the “Dance of Isaiah” around the altar, while the wedding guests pelted them with rice. By traversing the circle, which represents eternity, the newlyweds pledge their oath to forever preserve their marriage bond until death breaks it.

The wedding dinner was at Nicho’s parents’ lovely villa on the shore of the main island.  Starting with appetizers, “meze,” Greek salad, mushroom risotto pilaf, Greek broiled snapper, or beef steak. For dessert, strawberry gelato, white cake, chocolates, and Greek Wedding Cookies “kourambiethes.”

Greek Shrimp with Feta and Ouzo

This recipe originally came from Nicho’s mother (the mother of the groom) in narration form. There were no measurements listed, cooking times or description of results. You really don’t need these with a dish you have grown up with.  So I had to test the recipe several times, making notes of “how much” and “how long.” The addition of couscous to serve with the shrimp is my idea.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed (we like garlic!)
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, the largest you can find
  • 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup ouzo
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, in one chunk
  • Chopped Fresh parsley

For serving:

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Measure the olive oil into a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until garlic is aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, oregano, pepper and ouzo and cook until the shrimp is pink, about 10 minutes. Push shrimp to the side and boil away any excess liquid.

Cut the feta cheese into 1-inch cubes and add to the pan. Cook over medium heat just until the feta is softened around the edges but not melted. Sprinkle with the parsley.

While the shrimp cooks, combine the couscous with the boiling water; let stand about 5 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon couscous onto serving plates and top with the shrimp.

Serves 3 or 4

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Beatrice Ojakangas

Food writer Beatrice Ojakangas grew up as the oldest of ten on a farm in Floodwood, Minnesota and learned to cook and bake on a woodstove. Author of 31 cookbooks, Beatrice has a degree in home economics, has been inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota, has written for magazines such as Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Woman's Day, and appeared on the television shows of both Julia Child and Martha Stewart. Her specialties include baking, Finnish and Scandinavian cooking, and writing well-tested, simple recipes that use wholesome ingredients. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

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