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Food

Corfu: The Traditional Galaktoboureko No One Can Resist

September 10, 2022

CORFU – It is just ‘a pinch’ of space – it does not exceed, with its two small areas, even ten square meters. And it is ‘hidden’ in a small section of the Old Town – in Pinia – but it has managed to please kings, presidents of countries, prime ministers, Greek party leaders, tycoons, as well as all those tourists who may not be aware of its long history. They have heard of its unique flavors, however, tastes which take them back to other times – grandma’s days.

That is the reason for the existence of a small traditional dairy that began its history at the beginning of the 20th century.

“It was Onassis’ favorite. From here he used to get butter for Jackie to eat at her breakfast,” some Corfu residents told the ANA-MPA, while Kostas Alexis, the owner of the shop, will say that “it was also the favorite of the Greek statesman, Konstantinos Karamanlis and so many others…”

“I remember I was a little kid. Karamanlis came to Corfu almost every Easter. Dad knew and prepared yogurt for him in a clay pot. That’s how he wanted it. He would prepare enough for him and take it to the hotel. This happened every year when he came,” Alexis remembers with nostalgia, although, as he confesses, the customer he will never forget is the president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin.

“I can’t forget how tall he was, even though I was on the step – he was even taller. Memories of this man stay with me. He was very tall. He ate rizogalo and he was delighted,” Alexis said.

The small traditional and famous dairy in Corfu started its operation in 1926.

“In the beginning it was operated by my grandfather as a fruit shop, but very soon my father turned it into a dairy. We had our own animals then also, so it was the best decision,” he said. “A traditional dairy – as it still operates today – without having changed anything, not even its recipes,” he added.

Alexis will not reveal the secrets of the fluffy, baked, richly-creamed galaktoboureko, the creams, the rizogalo, the homemade yogurt, and the pale yellow cow’s butter. He will only inform that “my father learned the art from a very good craftsman of the time and it continues today, literally,” always relying, he emphasizes, on organic products, as his family still maintains a small unit of cows which produce the fresh milk he uses, the basic ingredient of his sweets.

“We breed about 25 cows, so all the products are our own and are controlled by us. The business is a family business, but we also have five other employees who help us. The work is hard, but is also very pleasant.”

His supporters in his ‘battles’, as he says, are his wife and his three sons. The youngest, 25-year-old Panagiotis, after completing his studies at the Department of Economic Sciences of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, decided to continue his studies at the Dairy School of Ioannina. What prompted him to do it is that “tradition, in order to continue to exist, needs science,” as he says.

“Tradition goes hand in hand with science. Everyone must be the best in their field and understand what they are doing,” says Panagiotis, who feels particularly happy to be following, for the fourth generation now, his grandfather’s profession.

The shop has not been modernized in its appearance, despite the passage of time. It maintains its identity, as it was almost 100 years ago. There are two or three small iron tables outside the same number in the small interior. The place smells of cinnamon and other sweet fragrances.

This small dairy on Corfu has been featured in cultural tributes, and on many television shows in Europe, but also in Asia.

On its walls are ‘pinned’ many memories: the fantastic articles in world-renowned magazines, photos of presidents, prime ministers, ministers, party leaders, famous artists. Everyone seems happy – after all, they just tasted the purest, the most special treats which awakened their own childhood memories and ‘sweetened’ their mood.

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