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Sunday, October 26, 2008

FoodBuzz 24, 24, 24: Greek Food Hospital-ity

"There are no atheists in Obstetrics units and foxholes."

- Sam Sotiropoulos, The Greek Gourmand



My Foodbuzz button - Click to Enlarge

The Fates have a way of spinning things; let me tell you a story… Three weeks ago tomorrow my pregnant wife and I were paying a scheduled visit to the Obstetrics Day Unit 7th floor Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada. To our surprise we did not leave the hospital that day, or the next day, or on any of the days in the next three weeks after that. Indeed, my wife and son are still at the hospital as of this writing. Yes, I am a father! My son, Ilias Georgios Sotiropoulos was born on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 02:06. My wife is recovering well and my son is also doing well; he is a preemie just like his father. :-)

Not to belabour the point, but the past three weeks have been an eternity, as I am sure you can all appreciate. The complete shock of everything that transpired in the last 20 days only sunk in while I was writing this posting and I cried, loud and long. I am still fighting back tears of joy and gasps of simple human angst and relief as I type.

In spite of all that goes on around one in such a set of circumstances, it is necessary to find things to do to occupy one’s thoughts and stay positive. My wife is a rock, her strength and patience and courage have become a lesson for me… I, on the other hand, am a restless soul with an edgy imagination; I am already a serial insomniac, and suffice it to say, this twist of Fortuna did not help me to sleep any easier.

Enter Foodbuzz.com.

Just days before my wife was checked into the hospital my original proposal for the Foodbuzz.com 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blog Posts global blogging event had been selected and approved by the good folk at Foodbuzz. Both my wife and I had been looking forward to hosting a dinner event in our home for our friends and family, and to share it with the online food blogging community at Foodbuzz and beyond. As circumstances dictated a different than anticipated course we rolled with it, and I was faced with the likelihood of withdrawing my participation. My wife insisted that I wait and see what happened, as she (we) expected her stay at the hospital to be of brief duration.

When it became clear that my wife was not leaving the hospital until delivery, we/she did our/her best to settle into life with constant medical monitoring and care. There were even moments when I thought I might need some attention myself! Whew... So, there we were hoping for the best but fearing the worst as is natural in such a situation. One thing that became apparent right from the start was that the staff that was caring for Sophie (my wife, nameless nevermore) was/is an exceptional group of people. I cannot adequately express my gratitude and appreciation for the amazing work they perform day in and day out; work that goes on twenty four hours a day and is largely unrecognized and unremarked by the greater public at large.

Then I had the epiphany. I was going to use the opportunity of the Foodbuzz 24 event to bring some attention to the important work that Obstetrics units perform, and not only in Canada but the world over, starting with the good people on the 7th floor at Mount Sinai Hospital. My wife embraced the idea enthusiastically; it gave us both something to look forward to in the short term within the hospital environment, after all, a hospital is a hospital.

When I contacted Foodbuzz and explained the situation along with submitting a revised 24, 24, 24 event proposal, they were excited about the prospect of my holding the event in the hospital and approved it without hesitation. As a result, I want to thank Ryan, Amy and Shannon at Foodbuzz for giving me something to plan and look forward to while sitting/sleeping at Sophie’s bedside; it kept me sane. I would also like to thank Mr. Christos Athanassopoulos, the Economic Consul at the Consulate General of Greece in Toronto for his assistance, as well as Mr. Alex Alexakis from Krinos Foods Canada Ltd., for generously providing the Greek cheeses, olives and spoon sweets I served for the event (see photos below). In addition, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Steve Kriaris of Kolonaki Group Inc., for supplying the beverages for the event (see photos below).

With the arrival of my son this past Wednesday morning, what was initially planned as a gesture of gratitude for the medical staff at Mount Sinai, ended up as a celebration party for his birth! By the end of the night last night, I had fed some 30 doctors, nurses, orderlies and patients of the 7th floor O.B. unit. What was on the menu? Well, it was a home style example of rustic Greek cuisine in all its glory; simple but tasty and wholesome.


Three Greek cheeses - Click to Enlarge

There were some excellent Greek Feta, Kefalograviera, and Kaseri (or Kasseri) cheeses that were generously provided by Krinos Foods Ltd.


Non-alcoholic Greek beverages - Click to Enlarge

For drinks we had Ioli brand Greek spring and mineral waters, along with Ivi brand peach juice drink, compliments of Kolonaki Group Inc.


My signature orange roast potatoes - Click to Enlarge

There were orange-oregano-thyme roast potatoes (made in exactly the same way as my lemon potatoes but with the substitution of oranges and orange rind for the lemons, along with the addition of thyme (or even rosemary).


Kleftiko all bundled up - Click to Enlarge

And there was lamb Kleftiko (or Klephtiko), which recipe I will provide in the next couple weeks.


My giant spiral baklava - Click to Enlarge

For dessert I made an extra large spiral baklava.


Greek yogurt topped with sour cherry spoon sweet & walnuts - Click to Enlarge

And then some Greek style strained/pressed yogurt topped with a choice of grape or sour cherry Greek spoon sweets, walnut pieces and dried figs.

In addition to the above, there was an eggplant dip known as melitzanosalata, a roasted red pepper piquante dip (a variation on the classic tirokafteri dip), some giant Kalamata olives along with some mammoth green olives, a tomato and onion salad, and some whole grain and white baguettes, along with some pita bread.

Over the next couple weeks I will be fleshing out the menu with a few more recipes like the one for the Kleftiko as mentioned above, so stay tuned for more.

At this juncture I want to thank my wife, Sophie, for her great courage and steadfastness in the carrying and delivery of our son, Ilias. She did all the heavy lifting and I was just along for the ride and moral support. Also, I wish to once again thank the doctors, nursing staff, and orderlies at Mount Sinai hospital for their excellent care and attention, and most of all for their human empathy and understanding.

Finally, here is the video I cobbled together of the Foodbuzz.com 24 Greek Food Hospital-ity event from last evening, I hope you enjoy it!



Now that I am done feeding everyone else, I am going to have the nurse show me how to feed my son. :-)


Kali Orexi! (Bon Appetit)

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand

http://www.greekgourmand.com/
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.

32 comments:

Peter G said...

First of all Sam, congratulations on your new born son! All the best. Secondly, I'm speechless! I think this a truly unique presentation and a great way to embed that Greek hospitality and say thanks to the hard working hospital staff. The video was fantastic and I especially enjoyed the music you attached to it. Again, well done and enjoy the many sleepless nights ahead!..LOL

Anonymous said...

Sam, it is wonderful to see you taking your passion of Greek cuisine and treating the hospital staff at Mt. Sinai. I gave birth to my child there not too long ago and agree with you that the staff demonstrate professionalism and humanity. You celebrated your son's arrival with people who played a very important role in his arrival, the hospital staff and it was great to see you serve a fantastic meal and yet promote the Greek cuisine.
As always, job well done. I hope to see you on TV sometime.
Health and Happiness to you and your family.
M.

Anonymous said...

Na sas zisei!
Olga

Cassoulet Cafe said...

CONGRATULATIONS! That was a very neat post and thank you for sharing!

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

@Peter - Thank you and thank you! :-) As for the sleepless nights, I am already inured to the practice as I am a nightbird.

@anonymous "M" - Thank you for your thoughtful comment and good wishes. I knew my wife and I were not the only satisfied customers and it is always good to have our own impressions reinforced by the experiences of others. My best regards to you and your family.

@Olga - Euxaristoume! Na'sai panta kala!

@ cassoulet cafe - Thank you and you are welcome! Nice to hear from you and I am glad you enjoyed the post.

Ben said...

What a great way to say thank you to the staff, Congratulations for your newborn and for a great job!

Liliana said...

Congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your son! You both must be so happy and proud!

Your idea of hosting a Greek dinner was such a wonderful tribute to the doctors,nurses and staff at the hospital. I am sure it was much appreciated. The food looked absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

Amazing post! Congrats!

farida said...

Sam, congrats on your little bundle of joy! How exciting! Very happy for you and your family!

What a great presentation of Greek food. I liked the video a lot:) - it was funny to see all these nurses rubbing their hands in anticipation of food:)

Congrats on the job well done!

The Mistress of Cakes said...

Congratulations! I wanted to let you know that my daughter too was a premie. If it weren't for the staff I don't know what I would have done. They made me feel as comfortable as I could with my child hooked up on machines. Sounds like you are a force to be reckoned with! I think its wonderful giving back to the nurses and doctors who are the "surrogate" mommies and daddies! You have inspired me. Have you thought of doing something for the March of Dimes?

Wonderful presentation! I love your passion. Good luck to your family in the future I hope you have many blessings!

Ivy said...

Sam, again congratulations on the birth of your son. Your idea was excellent and how did you manage to gather all those doctors and staff together? I loved the music and your presentation was excellent, so were all the dishes."

Jacoba said...

I am at a loss for words this time. The only thing that I can say is that you are about to embark on the most sacred, spiritual voyage of your life, where nothing else will ever be as important as that little thing .. and I guess you knew that in a heartbeat when you looked into those dark eyes at birth, didn't you?

Your life is about to change for ever, my friend - always remember that wherever I am at the time or my childre are, your little one has a home with us.

Gabi @ Mamaliga said...

Sam!

I watched the whole video and felt like giving you a big hug and kisses (yes males do this in the Balkans!).

As your wife had her labor, you had yours as well - less painfull - Lol. But what a display of typical Greek hospitality!

And the music was right on! The nurses should have erupted in a hora as they were entering the room!

Fantastic dear Sam! And HUGE congratulations on the birth of your precious son Ileas!

May God Bless you greatly!

Gabi.

PS: what was the ingredient you mentioned that you forgot to bring??? Huh??? :-)

Jessie said...

Sam, congratulations on the birth of your son! How exciting and wonderful. Your feast is just extraordinary. (That spiral baklava! Oh my goodness!)
Thanks so much for sharing.

+Jessie
a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels said...

What a wonderful thing to do for the hospital staff! Your son is blessed to have generous and caring parents. I wish you much good luck and health as you begin your new life together.

Nate-n-Annie said...

Congratulations, many times over! All that food looks superb, but it pales in comparison to the birth of your son.

Ya'sou!

pixen said...

Congratulations to the new addition to your family! I'm so happy that your wife and baby are in good health. I'm sure the Maternity staffs were very happy indeed. I did the same after my son's delivery. Being Asian with part Chinese descendent, we practised Fullmoon celebration after the birth of a baby. We delivered boxes/ bamboo containers consists of Yellow rice, curry chicken, traditional red glutinous cakes (which will tell the receiver if it's a boy or girl) with red colored eggs. I delivered to the Maternity department several boxes with pictures of my baby to thank them for their assistance and care during my stay in the hospital. Each time I'm there for my son's check up, I took him to meet the staffs there :-)

Once again, congratulations to both parents and don't forget to let us meet Ilias...

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son! And what a lovely meal and a wonderful gesture of thanks.

Pearlsofeast said...

Lovely and enjoyed reading ur post.The potatoes sounds awesome.

Maria said...

Na sas zhsei o mikros kai panta siderenios.

Your post was truly heartwarming as I am sure that meal was for all the individuals there at the hospital.

Congratulations again and may your little one be blessed with lots of love, health and happiness always.

culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess said...

Congratulations Sam!!!! What a lovely way to say thank you too.

Chef E said...

First of all I would like to say thank you for sharing, and what a great blog, and it leading into the food aspect. My first child was born a month early but also born with CHD(congentital heart defects), and I know what it is like to keep things together when loved ones have extended stays in the hospital. I am waiting for that egg/butter sauce recipe for my dolmas :) You might have to post pics of the family one day soon!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Now we expect to see a photo of the "little baklavathaki" on your blog, soon.
Best wishes!
Fran

Amy said...

Congratulations on the new baby and the great event! I hope that life as a dad is going well.

I had some great Greek food (including some amazing grilled pitas) the other night and thought of you and all of your wonderful recipes! Wish I could have been at that event for your cooking :)

Joie de vivre said...

Congratulations! I'm sure the hospital staff loves you even more after this meal!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love Greek food! Everything looks amazing!

Congratulations!

Cheers,

Rosa

Hendro said...

When I saw your blog, i feel hungry. It's look so delicious...
Thanks for your comment in my blog. Your blog very good, i want to eat all of this food...

Lore said...

Sam this is BIG news!!! Congratulations to both of you for your new born son! You are an amazing family putting this together for the hospital staff and making sure you open their eyes towards the not so well known Greek food. I really enjoyed the video and it all makes so much sense now, we have the same traditional way of preparing lamb but I was never aware of the reasons why they prepare it like that in the first place, quite clever!

eirini said...

na sas zhsei to mwraki!!eimai polu perifanh pou uparxoun tetoioi ellhnes!!sugxaritiria gia ola!sas perimenoun monadikes stigmes!

Jessie V said...

congrats, sam, to you and your wife on the birth of your son! life is good, indeed.

Nurit "1 family. friendly. food." said...

very cool. I'm sure you made them very happy. Love the music!
Congratulations on your new baby!

Susan said...

Congratulations, Dad! What a great way to celebrate your son's birth and treat the hospital staff to a great meal!

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