Greek Lessons

August 10, 2007

As many of you know, I write about food and develop recipes for magazines. Most of those articles I won’t mention here (I will, though, post them on my website), but this one is different. Photo-shoot

To start, I wrote this article for Prevention about my time living on the Greek island of Corfu, an experience that has reverberated throughout my life in the way I eat, the way I live—even the way I write (my first novel is set on Corfu)—so it’s a much more personal piece than most of what I write. And if that weren’t enough, after having hundreds and hundreds of recipes featured on the glossy pages, this is the first time I’ve been asked to step in front of the lens. So I thought this would be a fun article to take you through step-by-step, from concept to print.

Part I — The Pitch (mid ‘06): A lot of my articles start with me pitching an idea that I’ve developed for a particular magazine to the editors I work with there. This particular one I pitched to Prevention, because my editor there is fantastic, I knew they were looking for more up-close and personal type features and I thought this would be a perfect fit. They agreed.

Part II — The Proposals (late ‘06): From there, I had to outline what the piece would look like and come up with various recipe proposals. Those were routed through the editorial department and they came back to me with the ones they wanted me to run with.

Part III — The Writing (early ‘07): After the eds had OK’d the direction, I went off and began research to back up the “lessons” I illustrated through my stories. I always dread and love this part. It starts out like a wild goose chase and you think you won’t be able to find anything relevant, and then you’ll stumble upon a brand new study, which will lead to a handful of experts you hadn’t know about, yada, yada. I always end up “meeting” (interviewing) absolutely fascinating people and this article was no exception. It was also just P5020435plain fun to re-live my Corfu days on paper again.

Part IV — The Recipes (early ‘07): About the same time I wrote the text, I began testing the recipes the eds approved . . . which was good, because writing the story made me CRAVE Greek. So I wrote the recipes, cooked what I wrote, called friends and family and told them to come over for a Greek feast, we all had a ball, and then I made tweaks to the recipes the next day and submitted the whole piece to my editor.

Normally, this is where my involvement ends. Just after I hit “send.” But this time . . . I got a call in April.

Part V — The Photo Shoot (mid ‘07): Early on in my career I did some food styling and photography to accompany my pieces because that was what some of the publications required. Unfortunately for me, the experience did not unearth a latent talent for food styling. What it did instill is a profound respect for those who do have a talent for food styling and photography (including fellow bloggers like Clotilde at C and Z, Deb at Smitten Kitchen and Melissa Kronenthal at The Traveler’s Lunchbox!). So I was thrilled when the photo editor at Prevention called and asked me to be part of the photo P5020436shoot in New York. I got gussied up in a Greek-looking get-up (actually a Provencal skirt . . . but it was a sort of rustic, blue and white pattern), had my hair and makeup done, and then spent most of the day hanging out with a really cool crew of very talented people, save for about 15 minutes where I was either sitting in a chair “gazing at the fishermen on the Hudson” or plating a Greek salad veeerrryyy slowly. It was a hoot.

Part VI — The Reveal (August ‘07): It’s always interesting to me to see what actually shows up in the magazine, versus what I wrote. In this case, my editor changed my voice a bit to fit the publication, which is fine, since the story is pretty much in tact. One notable exception is where she added “nor do I want one” to the phrase, “no, I don’t have a chicken coop” . . . which just isn’t true. I’ve been pining for a chicken coop for several years now. Really. The recipes turned out great, though, and the photos were some of the best I’ve ever seen of my recipes—rustic, authentic, real.

Anyway, all this to say . . . go pick up an August issue of Prevention while it’s still on the stands! Or, just click here for the article and recipes . . .



8 Responses to “Greek Lessons”

  1. sarah adam Says:

    very nice stuff keep updating

  2. deb Says:

    What a wonderful article! I spent a summer on the island of Corfu, too, for a painting class of all things in ’99, I believe. What a magical place. I’m pretty sure I ate that village salad and/or yogurt with honey every single meal of the day. I too was terrified of gaining weight–all that fat!–but ended up healthier than ever. Thanks for the shout-out; I can’t wait to try the recipes.

  3. lia Says:

    Thanks Deb! How wild that you were there too . . . Corfu is somewhat off the beaten path for Americans. It is a magical place, isn’t it. You’re very welcome for the shout-out, by the way–thank YOU for having such a wonderful blog (Deb’s the witty one behind Keep up the great work and enjoy the recipes!

  4. Rosemary in Utah Says:

    I was on Corfu *thirty* years ago! And yes, I remember the yogurt and salads in those many little restaurants. (No menu, just come in the kitchen and point!)
    But there was a cake–sold in squares, light brown (not chocolate), no frosting, sort of coarse-textured, slightly oily–does this ring a bell at all? I’d love to try to bake it now.

  5. lia Says:

    What a great memory, Rosemary! Let me do some digging and see what I come up with.


  6. lia Says:

    Rosemary . . . I looked into the cake you described and I wonder if it was a “Fasting Cake.” Here’s a link to a recipe for a “Lenten Cake” that looks sound: Another recipe I dug up in Prospero’s Kitchen calls for durum wheat flour, which would give it a coarser texture.

    Let me know how this works out if you try it!

  7. Rosemary in Utah Says:

    Thank you, Lia! The cake I remember was just cake, no fruit or nuts. (I can’t imagine why this “Lenten” cake you found would be a cake for fasting–it looks downright *bountiful*, and very good too!)
    However, I think I found the Corfu cake! It is made with farina, and has a simple syrup poured over it–I think that moisture is why I remembered it as “oily”. Anyhow, it’s called revani (revina?) I found the recipe on the Chowhound site, under “Athenian Cake”. (?)
    When I try it I’ll comment here.
    Thnak you SO much for doing that for me, Lia–we now have 2 cake recipes!

  8. lia Says:

    You’re so very welcome, Rosemary. I’ll look forward to hearing how the “Athenian Cake” turns out!

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