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Sharing food, sharing cultures: How cooking brings this Greek-Indian family together

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No matter where on the planet you are, if you are of Greek heritage or you have Greek friends you will know that in the Greek culture, food means more than sustenance; it’s a way to understand the culture and defines the customs and traditions it represents. 

“People of Indian background share similar values,” says Melbourne based food blogger and mother of two, Dhru Xiros.

“Both cultures are centred around food, family and fun. The celebrations and festivities are always over the top, everyone is loud and opinionated but best of all at the end of the day there is a whole lot of love and support,” says Dhru.

‘Food is a great uniter’

Married to Bill, who is of Greek heritage, Dhru started her Instagram food blog, Indo Grecian Kitchen, while she was a stay-at-home mum, as a way to express herself and to learn more about her husband’s heritage and culinary traditions of his country.

“It was a fantastic way to connect with the adult world, document my recipes and learn more about food,” says Dhru and explains what cooking means to her.

“Cooking to me is a connection, from past to present and future. My grandmothers, my mother, my aunties, were all formidable in the kitchen. Food is the great uniter,” says the blogger.

“It teaches us how to work together (preparing food) and then how to share the fruits of our labour (feasting). It is the simplest and most important expression of our love and care for ourselves, our family and our communities.”

The secrets to a successful intercultural marriage

Greek style lamb chops or Biryani? 

When it comes to the challenges of intercultural marriages Dhru says there were no cultural difficulties in her relationship with Bill due to the similar nature of the two cultures in terms of values and morals. 

“To anyone in an intercultural marriage – always learn about your partner’s roots.  If you have children one day, and with existing families, it will make things so much smoother if you understand the other person’s background,” says Dhru.

“I went to Greek school to learn the language; I’ve read a lot with regards to the religious side of things but I have done that because I wanted to. It has never been forced on me and I have never felt pressured to assimilate. Definitely helps.

“I have a genuine interest in language, culture and food – these are the things which help bridge the gap.” 

A Greek by…marriage 

When you are married to a Greek you may not automatically get granted a citizenship but Dhru is proud of her family’s Greek heritage and expresses her gratitude for the loving acceptance the Greek community has shown her.

“My husband’s family and friends, the Hellenic community I’ve met through the food blog, even my dad’s Greek friends from when I was growing up: everyone I come across is so full of love. 

“Their sense of pride in the Greek culture and heritage is astounding and fascinating. This was new to me at first, I come from a strong culture but I don’t think Indian diaspora are as passionate about the up-keeping of their language and heritage,” says Dhru.

“You only have to look at the number of Greek schools in operation to realise how important it is to Greek’s that their knowledge is passed on!

And what did she struggle to understand about the Greek culture?

“It took some time to get used to this patriotism, but the more I read, learn and absorb about Greek history it makes more sense. There is a LOT to be proud of and now I’m strangely proud of it too.”

Before we conclude the interview, I ask Dhru to share her favourite Greek expression with us.

‘Mou eheis kanei ti zoi patini (Μου έχεις κάνει τη ζωή πατίνι) – You have made my life a rollerskate,’ she replies.

“Such a dramatic statement. Instead of saying something simple like ‘You’re making this difficult’ the Greeks turn it into a hilarious metaphor. This is how my life feels lately too!” Dhru concludes. 

DHRU’S PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

These cookies are the easiest and quickest you will ever make. 3 base ingredients, gluten free, dairy free and so delicious they won’t last more than a couple of days so be sure to make a double batch!

 Ingredients

240g smooth peanut butter

100g brown sugar

1 egg

Chocolate chips (optional)

Method

1. Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.

2. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.

3. Roll into 1/2 tablespoon sized balls, flatten very slightly and put onto lined baking trays.

4. If you are using them, press a free chocolate chips onto each cookie.

5. Bake in 1800C oven for 8-10 mins or until you see small cracks on the surface. Be careful they will darken and burn very quickly.

6. Allow to cool on tray for 5-10 mins before eating. Enjoy!

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