“When we first opened, you could only get olive oil at the chemist,” chef Loulla Astin tells me as we sit down together at Kosmos, Manchester’s oldest Greek restaurant. “We couldn’t get halloumi or cracked wheat and people didn’t know what aubergines (eggplants) or even peppers were.”
Thirty-five years down the line, a lot has changed—not least the average Brit’s ability to tell the difference between a courgette (zucchini, in American English) and a cucumber. The area of Fallowfield where Kosmos is situated is now the city’s studentville ,and Astin’s traditional looking taverna sits somewhat awkwardly between two neon-lit takeaways. Days like Mondays and Tuesdays can be especially tough, but the chef is determined to keep the business going, despite now being in her late 60s.