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"As children we used to play in the family's bakery and through our games came knowledge. We felt the true meaning life in here. Our father used to warm up the wood at night in order to dry them out from the humidity and burn them at the bakery in the morning. The place we live at is full of almond and olive trees, the two best kinds of wood, of which leave their scent on the bread".
He won't use electricity
The Stephatos family’s bakery at Missolonghi has been operating since 1890, according to some old contracts that were found. Chris Stephatos, the current owner, is a modern and educated man but has never thought about switching the operation from using wood to electricity, no matter how tiring and expensive it is for him. He keeps the family tradition and hopes that someday the situation will improve and his hard work will once again bear fruits.
"Many years ago, people couldn't appreciate the significance of holidays if they didn't take iron baking sheets to the bakery to cook the meat. At Christmas, it was inconceivable not to see women carrying iron baking sheets filled with sweets and homemade pies, on their heads. Thank God there still are grandmothers in the province who keep the tradition alive. That's where the Athenians go on holidays and that is why there's so much traffic on the national roads".
Chris Stephatos has heard his grandfather telling stories from the 1930s, a time when people entered and left the bakery holding pots in their hands. "These were big pots filled with meat, onions and tomatoes. The baker added water for the beef to boil in, not much, just enough to blend with the onion's juices. The pot required a low fire, and needed up to eight hours for the meat to be cooked. It was brought to the bakery at noon so that it would be ready by night. They used to take it to the tavern as well, because it was a delicacy for those who knew how to appreciate good food".
Other delicacies that were cooked at Stephatos's bakery were calf heads and ox tails, baked in double baking paper. "They also cooked lamb in baking sheets, stuffed with cheese and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The unpleasant scent of the ewe was tolerated by the elders of Missolonghi. The younger generations add some tomato and green pepper in order to eliminate it".
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS