Secrets from the Greek KitchenCooking, Skill, and Everyday Life on an Aegean Island



Based on more than twenty years of research and the author’s videos of everyday cooking techniques, this rich ethnography treats the kitchen as an environment in which people pursue tasks, display expertise, and confront culturally defined risks.

Secrets from the Greek Kitchen explores how cooking skills, practices, and knowledge on the island of Kalymnos are reinforced or transformed by contemporary events. Based on more than twenty years of research and the author’s videos of everyday cooking techniques, this rich ethnography treats the kitchen as an environment in which people pursue tasks, display expertise, and confront culturally defined risks.

Kalymnian islanders, both women and men, use food as a way of evoking personal and collective memory, creating an elaborate discourse on ingredients, tastes, and recipes. Author David E. Sutton focuses on micropractices in the kitchen, such as the cutting of onions, the use of a can opener, and the rolling of phyllo dough, along with cultural changes, such as the rise of televised cooking shows, to reveal new perspectives on the anthropology of everyday living.

David E. Sutton is Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University. He is the author of Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memories Cast in Stone: The Relevance of the Past in Everyday Life and the coauthor of Hollywood Blockbusters: The Anthropology of Popular Movies.

“This is a beautifully written book that transports you into the heart of ordinary, everyday Greek life. David Sutton’s method is innovative and his writing lucid. He draws readers into an intimate ethnographic adventure—an embodied and sensorial cultural immersion—in which they have the sense of inquiring and learning alongside him.”—Laurie Kain Hart, Stinnes Professor of Global Studies and Professor of Anthropology, Haverford College

Secrets from the Greek Kitchen is yet another fine example of Sutton’s ability to draw our attention to details that matter through insightful ethnography and engaging writing. He brings his informants’ stories to life and unravels the magic behind a world that otherwise might be thought of as familiar, everyday, and insignificant. Once you have read this book you will never again consider cooking as trivial and mundane.”—Eleana Yalouri, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences