A Greek-Turkish dinner is a rare event, according to the owner of Elyros Restaurant, Angie Giannakodakis, who is hosting one of her own in late May.
“The two races hate each other, with a passion,” she says of a historic rivalry that goes back centuries.
“The idea behind this dinner is that at some point you’ve got to stop hating. I wanted to bury the hatchet as well as create a cultural event where people of different races and religions come together because of food.”
So fierce is the tension among some older generations that Giannakodakis, whose family is Greek, had to ask her mother permission to run the dinner, aptly called The Friendly.
The dinner will be held at Elyros Restaurant on May 29. Chefs Coskun Uysal from Tulum and Jarrod Smith (fresh from a research trip to Greece) of Elyros will work together to serve six courses. Each course will include two dishes – one presented in the Greek way, one in the Turkish to highlight the similarities and differences between the two cuisines.
Take the split pea, or fava. In Greece, it’s eaten as a puree, topped with shallots, capers and olive oil, with fresh bread to mop it up. In Turkey, it’s closer to a pâté. Uysal’s version of lakerda (cured fish) at The Friendly will be made with smoked bonito and red onion, which will contrast with Smith’s Greek version. There will be Greek and Turkish wine matches for each course, too.
If the evening is a success, it’ll likely become a series. And although there may be more meaning behind this meal than your average restaurant dinner, it’s not meant to be heavy.
“As much as we want to educate people through these cuisines, it’s got to be fun,” she says. “We don’t want to take ourselves too seriously.
“But it will be humbling, having these two cuisines and two restaurants in one space for the night. We’ll represent our respective nations really well, I think. Good food has no borders.”
The Friendly dinner costs $140 for six course and matched wines. Book tickets here.