On the 15th of August, on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, in the village of Oxylithos in Evia, a divine service is held at Panagia Petriotissa or Hatirianissa.According to tradition, the icon of the Virgin Mary was originally located in Petries. But at night he disappeared and in the morning he was on the branches of a tree in the place where the church is built today. The tree, although it has dried, is kept as a sacred relic on the north side of the church and has an inscription that explains how it was built.
The church dates back to 1280 to 1300 by craftsmen sent by the emperor.
Every year, on the day of the Virgin Mary, the divine service takes place and at the same time a gastronomic event (stew) takes place in the courtyard of the church, which is designed to accommodate people from the surrounding villages and visitors from Athens.
For the traditional stew this year they were used
- 2 tons and 250 kg onions
- 2 tons and 200 kilos of tomatoes
- 2 tons and 700 kilos of meat
- 300 kg of olive oil
- 600 kilos of wine
The cauldrons were 150 this year !!!!!
You make the stew by boiling it slowly over a wood fire, which gives it a special taste and smell. Each cauldron produces around 50 servings.
The procedure is to first put the beef at 5 in the morning and boil it without adding any ingredients; as soon as it absorbs the liquids, sauté it with oil, add the onions, then the garlic, the tomato and the wine with the spices (salt , pepper, bay leaf, allspice) at the end.
The wine we use is white, because red in such a large quantity makes it very heavy, and let us not forget that it is eaten by children to the elderly.
The process is time consuming so there are alternating shifts and the preparation of the stew is the event of the year!
At the end of the divine service, the Metropolitan of Karystos blesses the cauldrons and then distributes the stew to the people who will either take it home or sit at the tables to eat and they will all become a great company!
Many thanks to chef Vangelis Kiousis for his contribution and help.