Here we are, 2022.
I meant to write a pre new year’s ‘What’s New’ but it didn’t seem to happen. I was stumped. While it is a new year, everything seems not so new. So ‘What’s New’ became a little bit of a challenge. But, I will dive into ‘What’s New’ for lack of a more apt heading.
The past year at the restaurant found us settling onto the new normal (forgive me that term), finding our balance, our rhythm and flow. What seemed once to be an absolute necessity or constant, no longer is. As we ourselves get older, as the restaurant gets older, as this pandemic gets older, we have a different playbook. Flexibility has become our most important tool. Acceptance and adaptation reside in that same tool box.
The GT has always had the good fortune to have many long time coworkers and a certain charm that has allowed and enticed past coworkers to return, sometimes more than once, to work beside us. When The Good Table is referred to as a family restaurant they could just as easily be referring to the staff. Headed up by the Kostopoulos’s, we are a family. Blessed at that. So we carry on as a tight crew, onward and hopefully upward.
In the past year we have all been so touched by the gratitude and support you have all shown us. I have had so many folks touch my arm, look me deep in the eyes with such sincerity and say ‘thank you for still being here. thank you for feeding us.’ It is humbling. It reminds me that we are all in this wonderful community together. I thank you, as does the entire family and crew, for weathering the last years with us. Thank you for your support, kindness, patience and love. It has always been and remains our pleasure to feed you.
I thought it would be nice to share our family new year’s tradition. It has changed in the past years because of the pandemic but remains a constant in one form or another in the Kostopoulos family. Vasilopita is the traditional new year’s bread most Greek Orthodox families make for the celebration of a new year.
For my entire life I have made this bread with my mother and she with hers and so on and so forth. In our big fat Greek family every woman and girl child has shared in this tradition. This bread is made to be cut with great ceremony among family and friends on new year’s day. A coin wrapped in foil is baked in the sweet round loaf. The bread is cut by the head of the household, a slice is cut first for St Basil, then the church, then for each member of the family starting with the oldest to the youngest. The person who receives the coin is destined to have good fortune for the upcoming year.
In our family every woman and girl gets their hands in that dough, even infants are encouraged to squeeze some through their little fingers. In one day we make the Christmas bread, called Tsouraki, sweet braids stuffed with raisins, cinnamon and butter and also the big loaf of Vasilopita. When the braids are done we pull out the large round pan, wrap a coin in foil and nestle it in the dough. The Vasilopita is decorated with a six pointed star of almonds.
Before the pandemic there would be upwards of 12 women and girls around my kitchen island, kneading and braiding. Four generations plus cousins make this bread together. It is a beautiful tradition, one that has been sorely missed as we separated into pods during the last couple of years. While we have not made it en masse, it has been made by each family. I even hear that some men and boys been able to join in in some houses!! Even Tony has joined in.
In long tradition my mother, Sylvia, always assures we make many more loaves then we need so that we have extra to share with extended family and friends. This brings me back to St Basil and the tradition of Vasilopita. I knew very little if nothing about St Basil. I found the story.
St Basil realized his flock was poor and suffering but also understood they were a proud people who would not accept charity. He asked the women of the church to cook loaves of bread with coins scattered throughout them. After church services the bread was shared among the community, each slice holding a coin or two. St Basil was being charitable without making his followers feel needy. And he did it without expecting recognition. It made me think about our own giving and sense of charity. Do we give enough? Do I give enough? Do we give with no strings, glory, no expectations, no prizes?I do believe St Basil has a lot to teach us. All the best in the year to come.
‘the cure for anything
is salt water..sweat, tears or the sea’ isak dinesen