Continuing our series on Athens, we sat down with Evangelia, the founder of herbs and spices company Daphnis and Chloe, which was launched in 2013. The company provides both professional chefs and home cooks with herbs and spices of the highest quality all while continuously celebrating Mediterranean traditions and expertise.
THE DECISIVE OREGANO
I moved to Italy when I was 17 or 18. I went to study journalism there at the university.
I had this friend who was always super excited about the Greek oregano I was bringing from home, from a small village where I used to spend my holidays as a kid. He was so excited about it that it made me very curious, because they have such good food in Italy.
Why would an Italian want Greek oregano?
All the research started from there. Not just with oregano, but with all these other plants that are delicious and that nobody had ever taken seriously.
HERBS & WINE, PARALLEL PLEASURES
We work a lot according to the terroir. With wine, you can take a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon vine, and if you plant the exact same plant in another place, you will have a different wine as a result. This is something that also happens with herbs, because herbs are strongly influenced by the climate.
What we do is different from what any other company of herbs and spices does: we source our products according to this principle.
HER OWN TREASURE HUNT
Before starting a collaboration with someone, we go and visit their fields. We see them in the place where everything happens.
"It’s not like you can sit in an office all day
and have nice herbs coming to you"
We are very picky and we make no compromises. Sometimes it takes a long time to develop a new product because there’s a lot of research behind it and the quality standards are very high.
After trying and trying and trying, you develop a certain taste.
MAKING THE MOST OF A CULTURAL SHIFT
Instead of going out, our generation entertains itself in a different way. We invite friends over and cook more at home. People pay more attention to the ingredients they cook with.
I grew up in a family that is an exception, but I don’t think that many of my friends grew up with parents who were very concerned about the quality of the food.
The fact is that there is a cultural shift regarding the way we consume and what we consume.
Magnifying simple food
Even people who only cook in emergency cases would like to eat something nice, right?
When I was living in Italy, I was travelling a lot and once when I got back home, there was nothing in the fridge: two half-broken onions, some cheese and garlic maybe. And well, I had our chili flakes and pasta so I made pasta with all these ingredients and it was super delicious.
There is one thing that people don’t necessarily think about and that is very important about herbs and spices. Yes, they are great to make great meat and super sophisticated dishes, but the moment where you will probably appreciate them the most is when you come back home and there’s not much to cook with, and thank god you have the little thyme flowers and the chili flakes.
"You end up using them to cook something very simple and you turn “nothing” into something delicious"
TAKING FETA FROM GOOD TO PERFECT
In Greece, we have a dish called Bouyourdi. It’s feta cheese with stripes of red pepper and olive oil, baked in the oven for just 10 minutes. It’s already very good on its own, but if you coat the cheese with oregano and chili flakes before baking, it becomes totally bomb.
Bouyourdi is a great example of something that is already good, but from good it becomes perfect.
A CITY OF MANY FACES
Athens changes a lot depending on the area where you live or spend time. It’s definitely a city of many faces.
Every area is lively, also because of the weather: In a place where the weather is nice, people go out more. They go to the park, go out at night, they ride their bikes and so on.
Athens is a nice place to live.
Of course you can see the consequences of the crisis, but there are a lot of people who are trying to do things in a more creative way than in the past.
Thanks to Evangelia for receiving us.
Words by Camille Darroux
Pictures by Victoria Nossent