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            Kitchen is such a place that even if food is produced there; the dishes cooked, the technique used, the sauces, the spices... and many more such details vary greatly from culture to culture. In fact, this difference sometimes emerges so clearly that what one person loves to eat, another cannot put it in his/her mouth. Let alone the cuisine of different cultures, even cooking a dish of the same culture by different hands changes its flavor. A person may not be able to eat a favorite meal from someone else's hand. Mostly, they look for that first and continuing flavor that they have tasted in their family. 'My mother's meals, my grandmother's desserts, my grandfather's liquors...'. So, can we ask the following question: Could the family kitchen and many of the foods and beverages that come out of this kitchen be part of family heirlooms? If you can't find those flavors elsewhere, if you want the person who made them to cook it again, if it's a special recipe and if these recipes are passed on within the family, we can say without a doubt that 'yes, the family kitchen is an important family heirloom'. In the fourth article of this section where we share 2mi3museum family heirlooms, we will tell you about the food culture of our Greek, Armenian and Italian family, a recipe, recipe notebooks and kitchen utensils.

      Many years ago, the Vafiadis family; Before connecting with the Mıgırdician, Sanzoni and Koulurgioti families, each family we talked about at 2mi3museum had its own unique culinary culture. The Sanzoni family was Italian, the Mıgırdician family was Armenian, and the Vafiadis and Koulurgioti families had developed their tastes through Greek cuisine. When Hurmuzios Vafiadis married Ashen Migirdician in the early 1920s, both Greek and Armenian dishes were being cooked in the kitchen of the house they lived in. Who knows, maybe Hurmuzios saw the 'topik' in Ashen's kitchen for the first time, and he ate the bean stew from her for the first time in a different style. Although we do not know how Hurmuzios' taste was, his son Aleko Vafiadis was naturally a food lover because he was brought up by an Armenian mother and a Greek father. Aleko's overweight childhood and youth photos prove this. We don't need proofs by photos, everyone in the family knows how much Aleko loves to eat. Aleko, in one of his memories, told with a laugh that he heard his first scolding from his father when he said to Hurmuzios, who was brooding over the Wealth Tax period, "Daddy, I want cutlets".

1930s Vafiadis Family, Foto Saray - We continue to our exhibition with another photo of Al
1930s, Aleko Vafiadis

      In 1955, Aleko, who grew up with Greek and Armenian culinary culture, married the Italian Giuseppina Sanzoni from Edirne. Although Giuseppina had a Greek-born mother and even a German-born grandmother, she knew the details of Italian cuisine the most. His mother, Ashen, who knew her son Aleko's fondness for food very well, had taught her young daughter-in-law Giuseppina everything she knew in the kitchen, probably thinking of the stomach of her only and very precious son. Perhaps the tradition of the mother-in-law to pass on her culinary knowledge to her daughter-in-law first started in these years (1950-1960s). Giuseppina has constantly stated that she learned stuffed mussels, tarama, pilaki, and many dishes made with offal from Ashen. Of course, while making these dishes, she did not hesitate to cook lasagna, gnocchi and other Italian dishes for her own children.

1950s The Wedding Photo.jpg
1950s, Giuseppina Sanzoni & Aleko Vafiadis

      In the 1980s, Stavros, son of Aleko and Giuseppina, had married Theodora Koulurgioti, the daughter of a Greek family from Istanbul and Imbros. Although Theodora's cuisine lacks Armenian and Italian influences, being the daughter of a Greek family from Istanbul and Imbros made her an expert in Greek cuisine. Theodora also had an advantage: Her father, Dimitrios, was a cook. Dimitrios, who worked in restaurants for many years (especially in Sarıyer Canlı Balık Restaurant), knew the intricacies of the cuisine very well. With the experience of her father Dimitrios, the teachings of her aunt Sofia and the teachings of her mother-in-law Giuseppina, Theodora learned the finer points of Greek, Armenian and Italian cuisine.

1960s The days in Sarıyer Canlı Balık - Dimitrios Koulurigoti worked in restaurants in Sar
1940s Sofia Cakiroglu Dismengil - So let’s continue with the beautiful lady in our family,
1960s Dimitrios Koulurgioti & 1940s  Sofia Cakiroglu

      This is how the family cuisine culture, which we describe as an heirloom in 2mi3museum, developed. Especially when the family was very crowded, the kitchen would almost turn into an art workshop during the meetings. We can list the dishes that come to our mind first from family gatherings and celebrations both in Istanbul and Athens as follows: Stuffed Mussels, Mussels Pilaki, Mussels Salma, Tarama, Red Fish with Mayonnaise, Colefish with garlic tomato sauce, Crab, Dried Mackarel, Lakerda, Snails (Escargot), Beans Pilaki, Topik, Lasagne, Stifado (Rabbit Stew), Dalyan Meatball, Stuffed Peppers with Olive Oil, Stuffed Leaves, Cuttlefish Stew, Brain Salad, Turbot Eggs and Liver, Fried Tripe... Apart from these, many different dishes used to decorate the tables on special occasions and in daily life. We would like to share with you the recipe of one of these dishes. You can find recipes for many of them in books, on the Internet, and you've probably tasted many of them before. So, let us tell you about one of the dishes we have mentioned above, which we find interesting to prepare, cooked in different ways in the kitchens of both the Armenian and Greek sides of our family: Snails (Escargot, Saliggaria...)

1960s A Family Celebration - As today is Christmas and it’s one of the important celebrati
1960s A Celebration Day with Greek, Armenian & Italian Family Members

Snails as a Meal: Recipes from the Greek and Armenian sides of the family...

      The idea of eating snails grimaces many people in Turkey. Even though it is not eaten especially in Muslim circles, they must know that we non-Muslims have enjoyed eating snails since ancient times, because they have a saying, 'selling snails in Muslim neighborhoods', meaning to do something that is not worth it. Sources show that snails have been consumed as food since ancient times. Broken snail shells found in the famous Franchthi cave and the notes of Pliny the Elder on Roman cuisine prove this. Today when talking about 'snails as food', the first thing that comes to mind is the French, but actually Italians, Greeks and Spaniards also use these crustaceans in their kitchens.

      In our family's kitchen, snails are cooked in different ways on our Greek and Armenian sides. In the recipe conveyed to Theodora Koulurgioti by her father Dimitrios from Imbros and her aunt Sofia from Chios, the snail dish appears as a stew. Aleko Vafiadis, on the other hand, mentioned that her Armenian mother, Ashen, offered these snails to the table as an aperitif. In both our Greek and Armenian sides, the first cleaning process of the snails before cooking is the same. We would like to share it with you as it is very interesting to us.

      First of all, not all snails are edible. Non-flattened snails with brown and black striped shells are collected after the rain. After these snails are washed in a porous bowl or a strainer, they are sprinkled with flour. At the end of the first day, the stools of the snails are predominantly black. The snails are washed again and sprinkled with flour again. At the end of the second day, the feces of the snails that consume the flour start to come out white. The snails are washed again, cleaned and sprinkled with flour again. This process is repeated until the snails' excrement comes out only white. This process is necessary for cleaning the inside of the snail.

Edible Snails.JPG
Edible Snails

      The recipe of Ashen Migirdician, the mother of Aleko Vafiadis, is very simple in practice. The cleaned snails are thrown into the boiling water alive when they come out of their shells. Whether the snail is cooked or not is determined by separating the meat from its shell. A well-cooked snail will separate easily from its shell. Cooked snails are served with olive oil and lemon. It is mostly served as an aperitif.

      The recipe that Theodora Koulurgioti learned from her father and aunt is different. In this recipe, first the onions are cut in the shape of a crescent, tomato paste is added, and after they are turned in the pot, water is added to it. Add black peppercorns, bay leaves and salt to the boiling water. The snails that have come out of their shells are thrown into the pot and left to cook. In case of foaming, it is removed with a spoon and discarded. As a result of this recipe, a result is obtained as in the photo below.

Ekran Alıntısı.JPG
The Snail as a Meal : Saliggaria, Escargot 

      During the meal, snails are eaten by removing them from their shells with a fork or a toothpick. Special long forks are also available for snail dishes.

Noted Recipes: Notebooks, books and cut pages...

      Many family archives always contain a notebook with recipes. While the recipes were sometimes carefully written in these notebooks, sometimes the recipes were written on small note papers, napkins or cut from magazines and newspapers were left between the pages of these notebooks. Visits are one of the important moments where recipes are shared between the guests. The recipe of a dish that is pleasing and especially eaten for the first time is definitely asked from the person who makes it. This has sometimes even led to funny situations. Some hosts do their best not to share the recipe, while others give the recipe but do not tell the trick.

      There are two cook notebooks and a few cookbooks in our family archive. One of the notebooks belongs to Theodora Koulurgioti and the other to Giuseppina Sanzoni. The most popular cookbook in the archive was bought by Ashen Mıgırdician in the early 1980s and has survived to the present day. We were particularly excited when we found Giuseppina's cookbook. We thought we would reach the recipes of many different dishes she cooked. But it didn't turn out as we expected. We have understood that people do not feel the need to record something they know very well. The person who learns by being with the cook while the food is being cooked, cooks with the person he/she has learned, and makes this recipe frequently may not need to take notes. Just as Giuseppina Sanzoni learned the recipes from her mother and mother-in-law in this way and did not take notes. So what was written in Giuseppina's recipe book?

Recipe Notes of Giuseppina Sanzoni

      The recipes that Giuseppina noted in an old diary are almost like a summary of friends meetings and conversations. Most of the recipes in this notebook are named after the name of their friends rather than the name of the dish: Maral Recipe, Pakize Recipe, Cake Celesta with Apple...

Recipes with Friend Names of Giuseppina Sanzoni

      In the same notebook, there are also recipes that she noted down while watching TV, cut from magazines and left in the notebook. In addition to these recipes, liquor recipes, which are very important for our family drinking culture, are also written here.

      Every year, Giuseppina always prepared a cherry liqueur and served it to her guests. While the adults drank their liqueurs, the children would definitely taste the liqueur by eating a few cherries. Not only cherry liqueur, but also orange liqueur and mint liqueur were among the liqueurs made at home. An orange-lemon liqueur is written in the recipe book. We would like to share this recipe with you as written by Giuseppina.


1 lemon 1 orange, 1 glass of alcohol, 2 glasses of water, 1.5 glasses of sugar

Sugar will dissolve with water. Orange and lemon zest will be put in it. After 3 days, it is filtered and put into the bottle.

      There was also a cookbook in the family archive, which was frequently used on many special occasions. This book was acquired by Ashen Mgrdician in the early 1980s and then left to Theodora Koulurgioti. This book was published by Unilever as a promotion of Sana oil. In all the recipes in the book, the first ingredient is written as SANA oil.

The SANA Cookbook, 1982-83

      The recipes in the book are classified as follows: Soups, Eggs, Vegetables, Fish, Meat Dishes, Rice, Pastries, Desserts. Dalyan Meatballs is the most cooked dish on our special days, written in this book.

Dalyan Meatball, From The SANA Cookbook

      In the last pages of this book, published by Unilever in 1982-83, there is a remarkable section with the title of cocktails in the desserts section. In this section, 6 different cocktail recipes that can be prepared at home are given. The cocktail called Istanbul Rose arouses curiosity. We digitized this book by saying that it should not be left in the family archive, and that it should reach those who are interested. You can download it from here.

Kitchenware from the Past...

      Kitchen utensils do not lose their basic function, even after many years, and we do not become alienated from these items. A fork is always a fork, a glass is always a glass, even if it is millennial. Can we say the function of kitchen utensils as an example of something that time cannot change? We can easily say this when we look at the kitchen utensils unearthed in archaeological excavations today.

Cooking utensils excavated from the ruins of Pompeii. Naples Archaeological Museum.

      Among our family heirlooms, there are many kitchen appliances that have survived from the past. The difference of these utensils from other family heirlooms is that they are still used in the kitchen instead of being displayed in the showcase. Copper pots, old cutlery, glasses, strainers... Instead of sharing all these utensils with you, we would like to share a few examples with you with their stories.

D.O Pradel Oyster Knife, 1930s, From the Kitchen of Vafiadis Family...

      While examining the old utensils in our kitchen, a knife draws all the attention, both in shape and size. It is clear that this knife, which is attached to a wooden handle, has two sharp points, a sharp straight edge and a rounded top, was produced for a purpose other than standard use. This knife has survived from the kitchen of the Vafiadis family and was used to open oysters. It is definitely known that the knife is in our family heirlooms, from Ashen Migirdician and is at least 70 years old.

Pradel Oyster Knife 1930s
D.O Pradel Oyster Knife, Made in France

      It says 'D.P Pradel Inoxydable' on the blade. When we researched through this article, we learned that Pradel is an important French knife brand founded in the 1920s. The company founded by Pierre Dubost and his wife Marcelle Colas Pradel continues to produce under the brand name of Jean Dubost today. This knife in our kitchen is thought to have been produced in the 1930s. Presumably, the Vafiadis family either bought this knife from a trip to France in the 1950s or was given to them as a gift.

      Having an important place in French cuisine, oysters are a seafood enjoyed by our family's generation that grew up with the sea. Although the perception of it varies from person to person, it is quite delicious for us. Although oysters are expensive in luxury restaurants and some fish stalls today, they were a much cheaper food source in Istanbul in the past. We can understand this from the memories of Stavros Vafiadis. How Does? He said that when he was in business in the early 1980s, when his budget was running low towards the end of the month, he bought ten or fifteen oysters and a loaf of bread and ate it in his car to get his lunch cheaper. He opened these oysters with the knife we are talking about here.

Kitchen Mortar and Pepper Grinder, 1920s, From the Kitchen of  Sanzoni and Akasi Families...

      Concluding the kitchenware part of our article, we would like to talk about two family heirloom items. Of these two kitchen tools from the 1920s, the kitchen mortar belongs to the Sanzoni family, and the pepper grinder belongs to the Akasi family's kitchen.

1920s, Kitchen Mortar & Pepper Grinder

      The kitchen mortar made of yellow brass is 1610 gr. It is a heavy kitchen utensil. After being used by Giuseppina Sanzoni for years, this tool, which was left as a souvenir to Theodora Koulurgioti's kitchen, crushes more hard foods. This mortar, which we use for crushing nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, is also used for powdering gum, which is an indispensable ingredient in Easter buns.

      The wooden pepper grinder, which looks like a small barrel, has survived from Kiryaki Akasi's kitchen. The function of this device is to pulverize the peppers thrown into it with its hand-turned mechanism. As we mentioned at the beginning of our chapter, even though many years have passed, these tools can still be used today and meet the need. What makes these family heirlooms essential are the people, dialogues and moments they have witnessed over the century. If only they could speak their language...

A Recipe for Those Who are Interested: Mussel Salma...

      In this article, we shared with you our culinary culture as a family heirloom. You, our dear readers, may have wanted to see a recipe that you would like to apply in the article. Actually, we shared a recipe, but we are aware that this is not a dish for everyone's taste. Therefore, we wanted to end our article with a recipe that is more appetizing and easier to cook. Here is the Mussel Salma recipe, which has a place in the cuisine of both the Armenian and Greek sides of our family:

Mussels Salma


  • Big Mussels with shells

  • Onions

  • Tomato Paste

  • Bulgur Wheat

  • Pine Nuts

  • Dried Currants

  • Salt

  • Black Pepper

  • Cinnamon

Preparation :

       First, the onions are roasted and tomato paste is added. After the mussels are washed with their shells and cleaned from the sand, they are thrown into the pot, and they are turned with the previously prepared onion and tomato paste. Then, it is thrown into the pot with bulgur, peanuts, grapes, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add enough water to rise slightly above the bulgur. The taste of the food is hidden in a small detail. After washing the mussels, drain and separate the water. If you add this water to the pot while the food is cooking, the taste of salma will be better.

Written by : 2mi3, August 2022

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