I’m honored to have been asked to guest blog.

As a second generation Greek American, Mezes Greek Grill’s Authentic Greek dishes takes me back to my time as a child and spending Sunday afternoon at Yiayia’s and Papou’s home in Lincoln Park, Michigan.

Over the river and through the woods

Our family moved away from the Greek clan living in the Downriver area when I was two. In the mid-1960’s some of the current highway infrastructure hadn’t been completed. Whereas today you can travel from our home in Livonia to the grandparents place in Lincoln Park in under 30 minutes, it took the better part of an hour before we arrived.

Grandmother’s house

My grandparents had a modest home in a blue-collar neighborhood. It was built originally by my aunt and uncle, bought by another uncle to accommodate his parents, and then lodged another uncle following his return from Vietnam. Upon his death in 1992, I bought it. 1839 Russell was more than just it’s wood frame and vinyl siding, it was the family home.

So many siblings

Dad is one of eight, and it’s his parents who we called Yiayia and Papou. On Sunday, following church in Livonia, my only sibling, mother and dad would drive Downriver. Sunday was a day of gathering at Yiayia’s. Her children and their children would converge on this modest home. Growing up I had many cousins to play with (and find ourselves in trouble more than once). Spending time with them weekly provided a larger sense of family than just the four of us in our immediate family. Even today, whether it’s weddings, graduations, funerals or reunions we’re still close - thick as thieves one might say.

So much love

Upon arrival during the summer months, Papou would be seated on the front porch with a great big smile and warming welcome. Upon entering the home, and even before, you could smell the food simmering on the stove and cooking in the oven. Yiayia would walk out of the kitchen in one of her sleeveless house dresses, her hair pulled back and up, and arms outstretched ready with a warm hug.

So much food

I can’t forget the delicious smells coming from the kitchen – it’s what I will never forget about her. It seemed like every Sunday Kapama (braised cinnamon chicken) would be simmering away - the spices overwhelming and of the other scents emanating from the kitchen. As a child, I wasn’t a big fan of tomato sauce, and although I still loved the smell from the Kapama, I wouldn’t eat it. Kapama is served over Greek spaghetti, Elliniká Makarónia, which I would eat. And for each plate, Yiayia would burn a little Greek Cheese with butter and pour it all over the dish.

And the list goes on

Pasta wasn’t the only item on our family fare.

  • Dolmades
  • Spanakopita
  • Greek Salata
  • Pastitsio
  • Kourabiedes, and copious amounts of
  • Sliced Fruit

On those very special occasions we’d have a full lamb roasted over the spit near my Grandmother’s grape trellis in the backyard just a few feet away from the sweetest peach tree in Michigan. Then there was her rice, chicken and lemon soup (Avgolemono) and her Loukoumades – Greek donuts hot and dripping with honey; not to mention homemade tzatziki and, of course, souvlakia.

Yiayia was fiercely Greek through and through. Her kitchen was the focal point for the family. It remained that way long after we lost her and I retained the family heritage.

Best Greek Food

And the winner is “My Yiayia ”! Not that there is any competition. Her skills (never using a recipe or measuring) and the hours of love she’d spend over the stove doesn’t prove it but the memories of the taste and flavorful cooking that still lingers today, does.

Today, the award goes to Mezes Greek Grill. You can go many places and get a Gyros but few, in fact I dare to say that only one, offers a marinated, hand-stacked, rotisserie lamb / beef Gyros Pita or Gyros Bowl that takes me back to the flavors of my past.

Greek Family is the best

Yiayia always made us feel like home. Now as a typical Greek grandmother, she made us all eat our meal, clear our plates, so she could pile on even more food. Eating was / IS a very serious matter in my Greek family. The owners and staff at Mezes Greek Grill understand that concept of family through their high level of customer service. Now, they may not make you eat all your food before leaving but they are certain to make sure you’ve had enough as you take your dishes to the bin before heading back to class or the office or a concert at Hill Auditorium.

Passed on from generation to generation

Yiayia didn’t use a recipe book but she did teach her children and grandchildren how to make her dishes. Not all the dishes are known by one person. One aunt knows this dish and another knows the other, my brother has a version of one recipe and my cousin still another. I think about this today and wonder if this was Yiayia’s way to ensure, if you want to relive the memories of our Sunday feasts, you have to gather together as we did in the past.

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