We asked Belinda Harley, author of Roast Lamb in the Olive Groves, about her inspiration for the book:-
As a food writer, cook and creator of events and parties in London, I have been escaping to Paxos for many, many years. I need to recharge my batteries as far from the canapé circuit as it is possible to get! Gradually, I came to know the locals – until I began to feel felt like part of the family. The islanders are fortunate, despite their hardships: they have protected their food heritage. They keep alive the wonderful food knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation, as something precious. It’s something that we here in the UK let slip through our fingers. It is very Greek to show such love for food – and to share it. This book is therefore a culinary love letter –bringing back wonderful, ancient recipes; and, rather bravely, I have created new recipes, inspired by the food of the island.
The title is inspired by the smell of lamb, roasting on the spit on Easter Sunday. Entire families turn out in their gardens in the Easter sunshine, to roast a lamb or a kid in celebration, so that as you walk along the old stone donkey paths which wind across the island, the smell of roasting lamb wafts through the olive groves to you….
To me, one of the most perfect examples of something very simple which can rise to gastronomic heights is yogurt….we really appreciate the tang of yogurt which, when strained like Greek yogurt, becomes very creamy – but less bland than cream! It behaves beautifully in cooking, too…in cakes, sauces, as dips…