Maria A. Karamitsos, Founder & Editor
I took a rather roundabout route to celebrating all things Greek.
My father was born and raised near Pyrgos, Ilias, and my Greek-American mother is from Chicago (her roots are in Tegea and Steno, Arkadia). I was baptized in Greece, which I truly believe is what’s brought me here, to WindyCity Greek. My parents say it’s definitely the “Elliniko ladi!”
I grew up in the quintessential Greek diner, learning many important life lessons from the kitchen and behind the counter.
When I was five, my father decreed that we would no longer speak Greek at home because he needed to learn how to speak English. My siblings and I forgot our Greek. Mom didn’t drive, so there was no Greek school, Sunday school, or regular church attendance for us. Our affinity for anything Greek was quickly diluted. One day, at university, I had an epiphany: I’m Greek, but I didn’t really know what that meant. So, after completing my MBA, I went to Greek school, and began to pull the language from the archives of my mind. I traveled to Greece regularly. My passion for all things Greek was ignited. But after all, it was “Greek ladi” fueled, right? When I became a writer (having previously worked in marketing) I channeled my celebration of all things Greek into a career. My Greek-American husband and our daughters share my passion for all things Greek.
I love to cook and explore the world of food (especially Greek–I learned from Dad and Yia Yia. Dad says my pastitsio is “best ever!”, and I have Yia Yia’s kourambiedes and koulourakia down perfectly, if I do say so myself.) To go with all that great food, let me not forget my appreciation for good wine. My current favorite is Xinomavro, but a nice Assyrtiko on a hot summer day transports me to Santorini.
For ten years, I served as Associate Editor and Senior Writer for The Greek Star newspaper. I’ve contributed to three books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes, Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook, and I chronicled my maternal grandfather’s arrival in America in the premiere edition of Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal. From 2002 until 2015, I was a featured writer at GreekCircle magazine. My work has also been published in The National Herald, USAGreekReporter.com, Harlots’ Sauce Radio (Bring the Marbles Home – Once and For All; You Did Not Just Say That!), KRHTH magazine, NEO Magazine, and Women.Who.Write. (My Dad: Reflections, Lessons, Love…and Celebration; Time to Forgive My Mother), and more. At From the Mommy Files…, I explore the highs and lows of life as a parent. I’m also co-director of Chicago’s Greek Media Club, and a stalwart advocate of Greek Orthodox parochial schools. (Five of the USA’s twenty-five such schools are right here in Chicago).
I’m also a past president of Hellenic Professional Society of Illinois. For eight years, I performed with the Olympian Greek Dance Troupe of Chicago and served on the board of directors. During that time, I was actively involved in organizing the Metropolis of Chicago Young Adult League conferences.
I just recently completed a 3-1/2 year tenure on the St. Demetrios Pythagoras School Board. I’m also the media sector rep for Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY). I teach singing and movement to kids at The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios’ annual Vacation Church School. All this while also being caregiver to my elderly parents, and pursuing my writing career.
I’m really excited to take this journey with you and WindyCity Greek! Thanks for your parea.
Connect on Twitter
Photo by: Elios Photography