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A Family Affair

June 26, 2011

After having such an exciting day on Sunday, a case of the “Mondays” would TYPICALLY be the firs thing on my mind .. But this Monday was different, because we would be spending our morning at a confectionery πŸ™‚ And who isn’t happy when sweets are involved?

When I heard we were going to film at a confectionery, I was so excited because one of my favorite hobbies at home is baking. But I was even more excited when I found out I was going to be the talent for this particular day of filming, having the opportunity to work with the bakers and see how they made baklava the traditional way. A way which is rarely seen in today’s fast-paced, demanding culture. So when they said we were leaving at 7:30 a.m. (meaning I would have to be up at 6), I wasn’t really THAT upset πŸ™‚

The confectionery in the Old City where we would be filming

When we arrived at the confectionery, the two bakers (a father and his son) took no time taking us back to the kitchen to get started. While they had already been up for hours baking, our crew was barely waking up. But we quickly snapped out of it and got the equipment ready and were filming in a matter of minutes.

The crew filming the confectionery owner's son preparing some sweets

We learned that the confectionery was a family business and had been in their family since they first opened over 50 years ago. The father had opened the shop after working at another sweet shop for several years because he wanted something bigger, and something he could add his own personal touch to. The son had worked and played at the confectionery since he was a little boy, and never really imagined doing anything else. Both men seemed to thoroughly enjoy their jobs, however both voiced that they were more than sick of eating all the sweets they produced. We were sad to learn that while they shop had been in the family for over 50 years, both bakers believed after they were gone it would come to an end, seeing as the only grandchild has no interest in it. From what we have seen so far, this seems to be a trend in Cyprus, with the traditional ways slowly dying out with the new generation. No need to fret though, the father just turned 80 (and does not look anywhere near that age) and his son plans to live a very long life, with the confectionery being a huge part of it for a long time.

The confectionery owner telling us about his shop while he prepared sweets

Just a few of the sweets produced int he confectionery, none of which the bakers enjoy eating anymore πŸ˜‰

After our brief history lesson on the confectionery, it was finally time to start making the traditional baklava. The son showed us what to do and then let me and Kim have a shot at it. It is a very tedious process of layering and buttering individual sheets of filo dough over and over, but we had fun doing so! While I layered, Kim buttered, and even though we weren’t QUITE as fast as the pros (OK, not nearly as fast), I think we did a pretty good job!

Me and Kim learning how to layer and butter the filo dough for baklava

Me talking to the son about the difference between his traditional ways and the mass produced versions

We finally finished layering and buttering and the confectioner’s son popped our baklava into the oven. He wanted us to try what our finished product would (hopefully) taste like and took us out into the front of the shop to serve us two hot pieces of baklava.

Me and Kim more than ready to try out the traditional baklava

Trying the absolutely delicious baklava

The baklava was delicious! And they were so generous, giving each us both (and our entire crew) large portions to try. Everyone seemed to enjoy it! While we were eating, the son sat down to talk to us about baklava and what goes into it. When we got up for a few seconds to film other portions of the piece, the father got upset and stopped me to ask why I didn’t finish my baklava. He was so worried I didn’t enjoy it and he needed to know why. But I assured him it was excellent and I would be back shortly to finish and he gave me the biggest smile. THAT made my day πŸ™‚

Talking with the son about his traditional baklava

Filming one of the scenes for the documentary

As it was time to leave, we wrapped things up and said our goodbyes. After talking with the shop owners and learning about them, I started to realize the small impacts each person here has made on me. Family values mean so much to the Cypriot people, and it shines through in everything they say and do. The confectionery was no different. Father and son working side by side, doing something they love and teaching each other as they go. Everywhere we go, family photos are strewn about the restaurants, shops and homes. It is evident that before anything else, family is more important to the Cypriot people. That is just one of the many lessons I will be taking home from this remarkable country, and probably one of the most important. So until next time, stay tuned!

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