Comfort foods is a series of Life sections highlighting AU students and the foods that remind them of home and heritage.
Food is the great equalizer; it brings people together. Enjoying a delicious meal with good company creates memories and an appreciation of different cultures. Anastasia Matlin, an American college graduate, offers a special comfort food that connects her to her Greek heritage and reminds her of the memories she has with her family.
Matlin’s maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Greece when they were teenagers. Decades later, her entire family would spend Sundays at Matlin’s grandparents’ house when she was growing up. Everyone brought different Greek dishes, but there was one that always stood out to Matlin.
The dish is Youvetsi, a stew of orzo pasta and lamb simmered in tomato sauce with aromatics like garlic, cinnamon and cloves.
“It’s full of comforting flavors and spices,” Matlin said. “The way the smell of the dish filled the house” reminds him of his family tradition.
Matlin said she has many fond memories of precious time spent with her cousins, aunts and uncles on Sundays.
When Matlin visited Greece in 2016 and 2018, Matlin was able to experience his Greek heritage in a new way.
“It’s so beautiful. It has such a rich culture and history,” she said. “You can have the mountains, you can have the beach, a little bit of everything.”
For Matlin, Greek cuisine is the ultimate comfort food.
Matlin said Greek food is a “reminder of where my grandparents came from and everything they did to get me to where I am in my life now.”
Now in college, Matlin is trying to find small ways to incorporate his Greek heritage into his food. Her go-to is a Greek salad, which she says always reminds her of her heritage even though it is so simple.
When she’s craving traditional Mediterranean food, Matlin likes to go to Zorba Café in Dupont Circle. One of his favorite restaurants in the area is Zaytinyalocated in downtown DC, serving Mediterranean fusion cuisine.
Comfort food has the power to connect us to more than just our plate. Through his family’s Greek cooking, Matlin created memories and an appreciation for his Greek heritage.