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Carolina Doriti

December 06 / 2023


Carolina Doriti is a professional chef, curator, writer and food historian who has amassed an impressively extensive knowledge of the history of Greek cuisine and the recipes and food traditions specific to its regions.

Cooking has been Doriti’s greatest passion from a very early age, and she regards it as a form of art, meditation, and self-expression — but also as an intimate and wonderful way to nourish and show love. Her cookbook, ‘Salt of the Earth’ (published by Quadrille in 2023) offers an enticing, in-depth exploration of the food and flavours of Greece — lavishly illustrated with photos by Manos Chatzikonstantis. Rooted in tradition and love for the land, its history, and ingredients, the book evokes a strong sense of place, shining a spotlight on local produce and traditional techniques.


Q >What’s your earliest food memory?

A >My grandfather’s botargo, my mom’s weekly dinner parties and my grandmother’s annual ceremonial preparation of the traditional New Year’s cake (Vassilopita).

Q >While ‘Salt of the Earth’ is your debut cookbook, you have a huge amount of experience in telling stories about Greek food and its rich heritage. How was the book informed by your work as the Culinary Backstreets Athens bureau chief, the Culinary Producer of the PBS show ‘My Greek Table’, and as a magazine food writer?

A >It was travelling for work and meeting people. Also realising that Greek cuisine is not very well known abroad aside from certain cliches which are not very representative of the cuisine. By interacting with people from different countries and cultures with a certain interest in gastronomy I got to realise that there was limited knowledge about Greek food, interest to learn more about it, and I developed an understanding about what they know, likes and dislikes.

Working in magazines for many years and publishing my recipes was a great training period to meet lots of people professionally involved in the Greek food world and I actually gained a lot of experience about how to properly develop recipes for home cooks of all levels that will actually work.

Q >What’s the most surprising or exciting thing you discovered while researching this book?

A >Lots of things and especially history related facts. History and social anthropology fascinate me — especially when I relate these to food. So, things such as the history of cheesecake which is traced [back to] around 2,000 BCE and a lot of other ancient Greek eating habits and recipes which have survived through the centuries like for instance ‘sykomaida’ (the fig salami) or ‘gastrin’ (an ancient version of a mixed nuts pie) or ‘pasteli’ (the sesame honey bars) etc. I have always been interested in ancient cooking methods and techniques and how these evolved throughout the years. How cultures intermingled and exchanged culinary knowledge, how did people use religion to differentiate themselves from eating habits of different cultures/religious groups. How poverty has proved crucial in shaping creative and sustainable kitchens. How the ancient Greek and Roman cultures have shaped several western food traditions and how many of those derive from ancient religious practices (for instance a lot of the Christmas traditions that are still carried on in Greece are rooted in ancient celebrations and practices [from] way before the birth of Christianity). Food from an anthropological perspective is really amazing and it really offers a lot of information about cultures, traditions and history.


Carolina Doriti. Photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis


Q >While Hellenic cuisine has overlaps with other foods in the Mediterranean and Levant, which elements of it do you believe sets it apart?

A >Every cuisine is unique one way or another. It’s the small details that may make it differ from a neighbouring kitchen, but if you know the cuisines well you can clearly tell them apart. 

Greek cuisine is simple, humble and with clear flavours. As it is ingredient-centred, the main ingredients used in a recipe (whether that is a fish, a piece of meat, a vegetable or a pulse) should really shine in the dish. The humble simplicity of a chickpea soup simply cooked with onion, lemon, olive oil and a bay leaf just fascinates me! The lack of many spices in Greek cuisine, the extensive use of pork and wine in many recipes is one thing that separates Greek cuisine from similar cuisines in Mediterranean and Levant regions. There are certain cliches abroad that are not so true in Greece such as the use of lamb in the cuisine or that hummus is Greek when it’s not. 

Often in Greek cuisine (depending on the region), there is limited use of spices. Lots of high-quality herbs are used, both fresh and dry, such as oregano, thyme, parsley, dill, basil, mint, bay leaves, marjoram, sage and more. The importance of wine and other alcohol in cooking and baking — even in bread and cookies — is massive and the majority of recipes include it one way or another. This is why I dedicate a whole chapter to the vine, which is such an important plant for Greek culture — equally important as the olive tree (another chapter in my book). Through these chapters I try to present the historical and cultural symbolism of these plants, their use and evolution in the cuisine.

Q >What are your food inspirations and influences?

A >When I feel creative everything inspires me! The seasons are inspiring and these are showcased in the local farmers markets — a great source of inspiration, as you get to see what thrives each season. I also love to forage. Foraging is very inspiring and it is a very big part of Greek culture and cuisine. This kind of knowledge has been passed on from the older generations to the younger. Now it’s back in fashion kind of worldwide but it never seized to exist and practised in Greece and some of the most popular and beloved Greek recipes truly rely on seasonal foraged goods from wild artichokes and asparagus to nettles or wild oregano, capers, sea fennel and a long list of wild grown greens packed in antioxidants. This is the magic world of the Mediterranean diet and I feel it’s my duty to show that to the world! I have always loved Julia Child and she’s a classic inspiration to most female cooks, I think — the way she loved food and cooking so much and nothing would stop her from achieving her dream. I like Yotam Ottolenghi’s books and I love Diana Kennedy’s books on Mexican cuisine. I generally love cookbooks (I own a lot!), especially those books that talk about history and culture and clearly present a cuisine, the produce and ingredients of a country, the history, traditions, and cooking methods. Travelling is very inspiring as well and probably the best form of education in my opinion.

Q >Your book is written in English and available in the UK and US and elsewhere (lucky us!). What inspired you to make it accessible to an international audience — and what were the considerations involved in bringing Greek recipes to home cooks living in far away parts of the world?

A >I feel comfortable writing in English, especially about food! I have been writing professionally for publications in English for several years now, so I thought that was a great opportunity to present the cuisine and recipes first hand and not possibly get lost in translation! I also felt I should do a Greek cookbook that would be available and accessible to a wider audience as I so much love the cuisine of Greece and it’s so rich and wonderful that I get excited to share it with as many people as possible!

Q >Building connections with ‘places’ through presence and absence: tell us about a journey (or journeys) and places which have triggered memorable emotions, a lingering impression or a strong sense of connection.

A >Whenever I travel to any Mediterranean country or to southern Europe the connections are huge and very interesting. I get even more fascinated however with connections or similarities I trace in countries that are very far away from Greece, like Mexico or Japan! I love it because you understand human nature in a wider sense and that one way or another different cultures may differ in many ways but in the end we are all humans and we really are more or less very similar!

Q >What patterns, routines or rituals define or help to shape your life and its rhythms?

A >I work a lot and thankfully I adore my job and at the same time I am a single mother as well and naturally I adore my son. It has been very challenging to balance those two, meet all my responsibilities, be creative and at the same time take care of myself effectively so that I am actually able to offer both to my job and son. I slowed down a lot after covid and tried to work a lot from home where I am calm and feel nice, safe and thus creative in order to test my recipes and write. I regard cooking as a great form of meditation and relaxation that seems to be working for me since I was young. Of course professional kitchens are not a very calm environment, but I can work around this if it’s not on a daily basis! This kind of adrenaline is also needed to sparkle our creativity! 

My daily ritual is to wake up very early when it is still very quiet. Those are my favourite writing hours because nothing will interrupt my thoughts and inspiration. I have my coffee and take my time to make my breakfast then take my son to school and then I start to work, depending on the daily schedule. No matter what my schedule is I make sure I walk daily for at least an hour and try to observe while I exercise, breath and relax. These walks have been very productive and crucial for decision-making and other inspirations and ideas!

Q >In your explorations of materiality, what has been your most surprising or exciting discovery?

A >It sounds trivial but using different raw material “scales”/“dimensions” and different tools can totally change the outcome of the new designed material. By changing the raw materials shape, the aesthetics, function and application of the developed material can differ entirely. That is why it often does not need a second, third and fourth component, as playing around with the first one can already multiply your options.

Q >Which things do you think the people around you take too much for granted?

A >I think our freedom of rights and speech and our health is taken for granted a lot in general. The water as well. Those of us who have access to clean water should be grateful and not wasteful. 

Greek people specifically take for granted the access they have to great food products, fresh fruit and vegetables that are full of flavour, beautiful cheeses and other dairy, amazing olive oils and wines, bright-yolk eggs, unprocessed food and meats. High quality food at reasonable prices is something we Greeks have to be appreciative for!

Q >They say recipes are like children… you’re not supposed to have favourites; but if you could pick one to cook, which one from the book would you choose, and why?

A >They are indeed and it’s so hard to pick. I guess it’s recipes that I dearly connect to my own childhood and personal memories and I treasure them in my heart for several other reasons aside from eating. Flavours and smells are so interconnected with memories, so my own memories are connected with an extra splash of love for any recipe that involves “avgolemono” (the Greek egg and lemon sauce), apart from the fact that I love those flavours I have also connected this sauce with my grandparents George and Rena that I was particularly close to. It’s funny but this huge love I have for this sauce has been naturally passed on to my son as well so there’s a mutual agreement on this in the house!!!

Q >Any clues as to what your next project(s) will involve?

A >More of Greece! I have so many lovely recipes I want to share with the world!


Carolina Doriti’s ‘Salt of the Earth’ was published by Quadrille in 2023; its sumptuous photography (including the images featured in this Q&A) are by the photographer Manos Chatzikonstantis (@ManosWasHere). The book is available from Barnes & Noble in the US and Bookshop in the UK – as well as plenty of other good bookstores. If South Africans can’t find it in their local indie, try Takealot.



Book Excerpt 

Vine leaf yogurt and cheese pie


Traditionally, this time-saving method is used to make regular dolmades or dolmadopites (dolma pies) filled with rice or bulgur mixed with lots of herbs — with or without minced meat. On Lesvos and in Drama, a great wine region in the north, they make vine leaf pies filled with yogurt and/or cheese, and most of the traditional recipes that I have come across are prepared with sheep’s milk yogurt. I love including feta in this pie and I also add anthotyro, a fresh, mild, creamy, white cheese very similar to ricotta. The herbs, as usual, have an important impact on the flavour and success of the pie.

Fresh vine leaves can be hard to find in some parts of the world, and the jarred ones work just fine here, as long as they are of good quality. Ideally, choose those stored in glass jars and go for the paler green leaves. The darker and shinier the leaves, the tougher they tend to be and, often, there is a stronger flavour from the brine. In any case, the thicker the leaves, the longer they need blanching. You could also substitute fresh vine leaves with leaves such as kale (remove the central stem of the kale) or, even better, chard.


Serves 6

About 40 vine leaves, fresh or from a jar 200g (7oz) feta
200g (7oz) anthotyro cheese, or ricotta 250g (9oz) Greek-style (strained) yogurt
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander 3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp chopped dill
1⁄2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 spring onions (scallions), including the green part, chopped
Olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


To Serve

2 tomatoes, deseeded, diced and drained 1 tsp chopped mint 2 tsp chopped spring onion (scallion), optional
4–5 tbsp Greek-style (strained) yogurt Smoked sweet paprika


Bring a large pan of water to the boil over a medium-high heat. Blanch the vine leaves, a few at a time, for about 3 minutes (depending on the quality of the leaves). Remove with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl with chilled water and ice. To drain, carefully hang them over the sides of a colander and leave to dry for about 20 minutes or so.

Crumble the feta into a large bowl, using your hands or a fork. Mix in the anthotyro (or ricotta) and yogurt until evenly combined. Add the ground coriander seeds, herbs, lemon zest, spring onions (scallions), and some black pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6.

Brush the base and sides of a round, shallow baking tin (pan), 25cm (10 inches) in diameter, with a little olive oil. Start layering the leaves, beginning from the sides of the pan, laying them one next to the other and slightly overlapping. The top half of the leaves should be hanging over the rim of the tin (they will be folded over the filling), and the base and sides covered (using about 15 of the leaves). Brush with olive oil then create a second layer of leaves in exactly the same manner, covering both the base and side of the pan, making sure there are no little gaps between the leaves. Gently pat dry with some kitchen paper, then spoon in the filling, spreading it evenly with the back of a tablespoon. Fold in the overhanging leaves and layer the remaining eaves on top. Brush with a little olive oil and make sure it is sealed, without any gaps. Tuck the leaves around the edges down into the tin using a knife, to ensure it is fully sealed and smooth all the way around, then brush the final layer with olive oil.

Place a piece of baking parchment on top of the pie, gently pressing it down to stick to the leaves. Spray with a little water then cover the whole thing with foil.

Bake on the lowest shelf in the oven for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and baking parchment and bake for another 10–15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a little (you can serve it either warm or cold).

Mix the tomatoes with the mint, spring onions (scallions) and a little salt. Spoon the yogurt over the top of the pie, creating a thin, even layer. Create another layer with the diced tomato mix on top.

Slice the pie like a pizza and serve it drizzled with a few drops of olive oil and sprinkled with a little smoked paprika. 


This recipe was excerpted from ‘Salt of the Earth’ (Quadrille, 2023). Recipe text © Carolina Doriti; photography © Manos Chatzikonstantis.

Carolina Doriti. Photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis

Collecting Vine Leafs. Photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis

Collecting Vine Leafs. Photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis

Vine Leaf Yogurt and Cheese Pie Recipe. Photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis

Vine Leaf Yogurt and Cheese Pie Recipe. Photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis