the digital alias of Despina Panagakos Yeargin


GREEK HERITAGE COOKING SIMPLIFIED: One Family’s Cultural DNA Saved for Future Generations

L – R: Antonia (sister), Demetra (mother) and little Despina

Greek food and Greek cookery–the techniques and methods of Greek food preparation–are an essential part of growing up Greek. My heritage isn’t only the ruins of the Acropolis in Athens or the remaining statues in the public park in Sparta. My Greek heritage is more than the icons lined up in any Greek Orthodox Church; it is also the language of my mother, Dimitra, and father, Gregory, and of the vast number of authentically traditional dishes that my sister and I ate growing up in Greece and (as immigrants) in Australia.

My mother was from the island of Samos but had moved to Athens when she met my father who was from the small village of Kalami three kilometers from Sparta. When they married, my mother incorporated some of the traditional dishes of Samos into her newly acquired Spartan kitchen, and she learned to prepare the traditional dishes that my father had grown up with. Occasionally, she would combine the two, which is why I cannot find a traditional recipe for sweet pumpkin pita that is rolled in Filo dough and then turned out into a spiral in a round cake pan. This is my heritage too–this storytelling and unique way of cooking–and I want to preserve it for my nieces and for their children and for my stepchildren who grew up eating my Greek food and hearing stories of my life in Greece. I also want to share it with all of you (whoever you are) and offer you updated techniques for a simplified version of the traditional Greek dishes that I grew up with. This is what inspired the title of my book, “Greek Heritage Cooking Simplified.” Stay tuned as I share my journey.