My name is Matthew Jones, and I’m the supervising curator for the exhibition The Life of Patrick White. I’m also a world champion eater but when it comes to cooking, I’ll never be anything more than a reserve grade benchwarmer . When faced with the task of tackling one of his recipes in the kitchen, I thought my knowledge of Patrick White’s life might compensate for my culinary deficiencies. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found it was of no benefit whatsoever. Fortunately my partner, Jo – a curator at the National Portrait Gallery who, appropriately, has spent the last few months acquainting herself with Brett Whiteley’s infamous portrait of White – was around to help select a recipe and then bring it to life.
We cooked the Kolokythopitta (a recipe given to White by someone named Mrs Louloudas) for a bash at a colleague’s place to celebrate the launch of this blog. The recipe appealed for its simplicity and because – unlike some of the others transcribed from White’s papers – it was without any vague, unfinished or esoteric instructions (the recipe for ‘Liberal soufflé’, for example advises a mixture of Philly cream cheese and jellied soup!)
Kolokythopitta (Mrs. Loloudas)
1 ½ kilos Kolokythakia (zucchini or marrow)
2 medium sized onions
200 grams feta
1 cup plain flour
250 grams olive oil
Pepper (salt unnecessary because of the feta)
Grate marrows and place in colander. (‘Mrs Louloudas’, whoever she was, must have had remarkable stamina: grating 1.5 kilograms of zucchini is hard, hard work.)
Boil chopped onions with a little water, & when water is absorbed, add ½ of the oil and fry lightly. (Not knowing what purpose would be served by the instruction to ‘boil chopped onions with a little water’ before sautéing them in oil, we omitted this step in the recipe.)
Squeeze marrows with the hands to remove moisture. Place in bowl and add chopped parsley, grated feta, 4 eggs whisked with flour, pepper onions and remainder of oil.
Mix together, place in oiled (oblong) holding dish and level. Cook in moderate oven about 45 mins until brown. Cut into squares when cold. Keeps well. Do not refrigerate.(Use the biggest size grater not too fine)
What’s the verdict?
We also took the flagrantly extra-textual step of deciding to serve the dish with a side of garlic-dosed Greek yoghurt . The recipe instructs to ‘Cut into squares when cold’ which led us to assume it could be eaten both ways and we served it cold at the dinner party. However we don’t think this really worked and it tasted much better when we sampled a small slice not long after it came out of the oven.
When eaten warm it ‘has a genius’ but can be a bit ‘humdrum’ when cold.