Our name MYRTIÁ:
the plant that inspired me
Talking to Kyria Vaso, a very good friend and fabulous cook, about our new venture, she mentioned the mirto liquor from the myrtle berries (μυρτια/myrtia) and gave me a sip to try. I loved it, the aroma and colour, and all excited I asked her where these myrtia bushes were so I could make some of my own. They were there right in front of me, right on the plot of land where we planned to open our new venture, there were the myrtle bushes, quietly waving in the afternoon breeze, being ignored. I had no idea that as we were walking around, pacing out the buildings, our legs were brushing against a local food ingredient. And so I wondered: what else exists on Ithaca that I am unaware of?
This set me off on a new quest, an exciting journey of local discovery - reading, researching, making, experimenting and gleaning as much valuable oral history from the yiayias and aunties as I could. Even our local priest sat down with me to share what he knew.
And the journey led me on beyond myrtia: to carob trees and making carob syrup (an ancient Greek ingredient, did you know we grow carob here in Ithaca?), to marinating capers and their leaves, to pickling rock samphire and grape hyacinth, and foraging for wild garlic, asparagus, wild greens and edible flowers
In fact, the yiayias have told me their hortopita should have 33 different types of local wild horta, leaves we’re crushing underfoot as we race to the top of a ridge to take a photo of the beautiful view beyond!