The Pelion orchards were well known all over Thessaly for their variety and the quality of their products. This was due to the rich earth of the mountain and the abundant rainfall. In old photos we can see that the whole mountain was tended to and cultivated. Especially in Tsagarada, where each house had enough space around it for cultivating, each household was self-sufficient when it came to fruit, vegetables, dairy products and meat.And if there was not enough space for all of this, there were always the orchards to make up for it, which began from the seaside and worked their way up to the top of the mountain.
My first attempt to cultivate on Pelion was made during the Spring of 2007. It was the first Spring of AMANITA guesthouse’s opening. In the garden the trees and plants had just been planted. Then I decided that in the garden, in the space between the freshly planted trees, I would grow zucchini plants. Mr. Apostolos from the “tavernaki” in Mouresi gave me winter pumpkin seeds. The only thing I did was to plant and water them. The result was amazing. The whole garden was filled with huge plants, which took up every corner of it. They sprouted flowers, and produced pumpkins. By the end of the summer we were in possession of more than ten huge pumpkins – weighing ten kilos each. The soil of Pelion had demonstrated its power! Since then I decided each year to grow quite a big vegetable garden meaning about a hundred vegetables, garlic, onions and herbs, plus strawberries, plus potatoes and beans, … plus the 80 trees of our orchard, plus the herb garden. Our latest entry is the apiary. Now our bees roam our flowers by helping pollination and offer us their wonderful honey.
In the AMANITA guesthouse our preoccupation with cooking arose from our personal need to learn about and understand the rich ingredients of Pelion’s natural environment and the traditional recipes that are gradually dying out, and also to make nice dishes for our family. Of course there is also the great challenge of introducing our friends from abroad to the dishes that Greeks eat in their homes. We don’t have a restaurant, or any specialist cooking knowledge. What we know is to cook for our family and friends. In the end we decided that our cooking attempts would focus on initiating our friends from abroad – through experiential activities – in the ways that a Greek family and friends eat on a relaxed evening in the summer. So we shall fully dedicate ourselves to the Greekness of our recipes and to our garden as the source of our raw ingredients.