this story originally ran in Slow Living by Where Women Cook
A native Oregonian, Eva Kosmas Flores currently resides in Portland with her husband, cat, two dogs, seven chickens and hive of bees. She shares recipes, travel guides, and all-around how-to's on her blog, Adventures in Cooking. When she's not working in her garden or baking in her kitchen, she can be found with her nose buried in a good book. She has a soft spot for stinky cheese, her beagle’s muzzle, kneading dough, and Rumi.
“Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth, trust that." –Rumi
Food is my passion AND my livelihood. I launched my blog, Adventures in Cooking, in 2009. From that journey grew the publication of my two cookbooks, Adventures in Chicken and First We Eat written in 2016 and 2018. Since 2014, I’ve hosted travel-based food photography workshops through my company of the same name, First We Eat.
Oregon has always been my home, and food and cooking have always been a huge part of my life. I live in Portland, and I grew up in Hillsboro where my parents ran a Greek deli and restaurant. Every Saturday of my childhood was spent there helping out, and I was there on school breaks too.
My mom is American, and my dad is from a small Greek island called Aegina, and they're very yin and yang. My mom is the social, adventurous extrovert and my dad is the reserved introvert. At the restaurant my mom would be in the front, taking customers' orders and making them feel welcome, while my dad was in the kitchen cooking. I'd Ping-Pong between them, wearing an apron folded in half so I wouldn't trip over it because I was so small! It was hectic, but I loved it, and I learned so much growing up among the many meals and customers.
Food defined my childhood; it's always been a deeply rooted love and fascination. I've been in the kitchen cooking as long as I can remember…when I was very small, my mom would pull a chair up to the stove so I could stand on it to help stir the pot. I wanted to help whenever she cooked anything—the transformation of ingredients through cooking was so mesmerizing to me as a kid—and is to this day!
My parents are both avid gardeners and growing up we always had fresh produce from the garden. They were composting back in the 90s and used produce from the garden in the restaurant. I learned about the many merits of farm-to-table before it was a marketable thing when food was seen differently by most in the industry.
While I learned to cook from both my mother and father, they have very different cooking styles. My mom was more creative, she'd just look around the cupboards and refrigerator for whatever we had on hand and could create a beautiful meal. My dad had to cook everything for the restaurant, and it had to taste the same every time so that the menu was consistent. At the restaurant, he was a perfectionist.
It took me hours until I learned to peel a cucumber "correctly." Between the two of them, I learned a lot about cooking with improvisation, but also the importance of precision, especially developing written recipes for the blog and my cookbooks.
The importance of food in my life really hit me when I went to college in Los Angeles. The food on campus was prepared by Sodexho (it's a processed food company that also caters many prisons), and after eating that for the first month and not having access to a real kitchen I felt really, really depressed—disconnected and out of sorts. I think that's when I realized what a tremendous role food had in my life, and the positive impact of cooking and the joy of preparing and eating good, fresh food. Luckily I was able to get an on-campus apartment with some roommates the next year; that kitchenette saved me!
I’ve also realized that food connects us to community and memory. I love that you can share moments and sensations with other people through a recipe. For example, if I follow Julia Child's recipe for beef bourguignon, I know that I'm enjoying the same flavors, smells, and textures that she did many years ago—along with all the others who have cooked it over the years!
The same special connection follows with family recipes; it's an incredible way to connect with loved ones who aren't here anymore. My yiayia lived in Greece, I only met her once when I was one, and so for me being able to cook recipes that she used to make for my father helps me feel connected to her.
Slow living with the seasons is a win-win. Ninety-nine percent of what I make is seasonally based. When we eat seasonally and support local farmers and growers, there are SO MANY AWESOME things that happen. Our meals taste infinitely better, your local community's economy grows, you're eating nutrient-dense foods, and you're helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions that come from shipping food all over the world. It's a win-win for literally everyone involved from the grower to the consumer…
Growing your own food also instills a sense of patience within you, and forces you to slow down. You get to watch your meal be created from a tiny seed to a bubbling pot of tomato sauce over the course of several months. If you can start a small garden, even a container herb garden on your windowsill, I highly recommend it. There's nothing like the connection that's created between you and your food when you get to nurture it, care for it, and watch it grow into something big and bountiful—and then the plant gets to nurture you right back with fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables. It's incredibly grounding.
As someone who has a very busy mind with lots of random thoughts flying through it all the time, being out in the garden or cooking in the kitchen are the two times when my mind really quiets down. I just get to focus on the task at hand, there's something very meditative about it. Seasonal living is the best for so many reasons!