Summer means Greek islands for a lot of us here in Greece. We all have memories of our first “adult” vacation when we took a boat to one of the islands with our friends and arrived in one of the many Greek islands and had the time of our lives. The islands are often associated with a carefree lifestyle, no need for formalities just fun. While living on an island is not all fun and games, particularly years ago when transportation was not good, islanders and those living near coastal areas are generally more outgoing than those from mountainous areas of Greece. Even their songs were more positive sounding. This was very refreshing for me as both my parents are from Arcadia which is in the center of Peloponnesus surrounded by mountains and people tend to be a bit more closed.
I remember a friend of my mom’s back in the U.S. Her name was Petroula and she was from the island of Kimolos. We would always go to their house on Christmas and it was a big Greek gathering. The moment she opened the door and saw us, she welcomed us with such excitement that it made you think that you were her favorite person in the world. During these parties the table was full of food: mountains of meatballs (keftethakia), salads, cheese, lamb and also lathenia. Lathenia is a recipe that resembles a pizza from the island of Kimolos. Read more »
Beans, not the green kind but the ones also known as pulses or legumes are such an important part of the Greek diet. Whether they are used in soups. patties, roasted or stewed, the flavor is something that is highlighted along with the other ingredients. Greeks don’t hide their beans in pasta sauce nor do they mix them in salads. Beans take center stage in the Greek cuisine. Read more »
Zucchini is a vegetable I associate with the summer, so we have a constant supply the whole season. We’ll typically use them in briami, or add them to lathera, or bake or fry them. As I mentioned Greeks love using zucchini in many ways. Here is a simple (and not so common)recipe that works very well as an appetizer or even as a side dish: cheese filled zucchini. Read more »
I don’t know where to start with the dakos. It is delicious, it is healthy, it is the ultimate representation of the Mediterranean diet, straight from Crete.
First of all it’s been described as a Greek bruschetta, but it isn’t, it is a bit different. Here’s what it is: Dakos specifically refers to a recipe that uses the famous Cretan barley rusks. These rusks are made with whole grain barley flour, water and salt. They are super hard and super healthy. Also dakos includes olive oil, tomato, and crumbled cheese, traditionally this cheese is Cretan mitzithra but you often see it (outside of Crete) made with feta. Read more »
Tabbouleh is such a great salad. It combines all the classic ingredients of the Mediterranean: tomatoes, cucumbers. herbs (parsley, mint), olive oil and lemon. While it is not a Greek dish, it definitely combines ingredients common in the Greek cuisine and I love it!
So there are many different versions, I tend to like the one with more parsley and less bulgur, although in the photo it seems like I added less parsley (I ran out). Also the original recipe uses bulgur (in Greek we call it pligouri) a cereal made from the kernels of wheat, which maintains much of its bran and therefore is a good source of fiber. When I decided to make this over the weekend to photograph it, I did not have bulgur on hand and just used couscous instead hence the photo, although I much more prefer it with bulgur- healthier and tastier. Read more »
Every country has it own rules and considerations when it comes to food and Greece is no different. Generally, when you visit another country it is good to eat as the locals do, to know what to expect and to gain as close as you can an authentic eating experience.
1. Don’t expect your waiter to be your friend. By this I do not mean that Greek waiters are not friendly, many of them are, but you will not get the typical American greeting “Hi my name is so and so and I’ll be your server for tonight, can I get you some margaritas to start out?” No you will not have any of that. If they are really busy, they’ll probably bring out the basics (bread, forks, knives, menu etc.), and expect you to quickly give them your order when they come back to your table. Read more »
So as you may have noticed cheese is really important in our home, but also in the Greek diet. Since traditionally Greeks did not eat much meat, cheese played the role of protein to go along with all those vegetable dishes. In fact, according to the USDA and other sources, Greece has the highest consumption of cheese per person in the world (yes more than the French), at 71 pounds a year which corresponds to 3 ounces a day (which isn’t that much really). That’s because it is actually an important component to the meal, especially feta which makes up most of the cheese consumed in Greece. Read more »