Saturday, February 5, 2011

Welcome to good Greek food and its heritage

I'm new at blogging, bare with me as I have a lot to say about Greek food.  I'm driven to do this for several reasons, first my heritage and the love of the real Greek food I grew up with, but most of all to tell people that Greek food is not souvlaki and lamb on the spit. On the contrary Greek food is highly vegetarian. Lamb on the spit is something that happens once a year as rule and souvlaki is Greece's national fast food and it stops there.
I grew up with legumes, and lots and I mean lots of vegetables dishes. I was a skinny child I'm told, this is not true, my grandmother saw me that way. Yiayia Theodora was constantly trying to feed me butter to fatten me up but I preferred olive oil on my bread with salt and oregano, try it its delicious.  Yiayia herself did not eat meat all her life, she did though eat fish.
I bought my children up with the same food, but we did eat meat and still do but in moderation. There was always one indulgence that I catered for, potato chips cooked in good olive oil and the battle would be on, forking each other so that they would not be cheated in the count.
Contrary to most belief Greek cooking can be very simple to prepare with the exception of a few dishes and even those you learn to organise yourself so they are not to difficult, I will come to these dishes as we go along and you get to know the simple ones first.
In this blog I will also go into the regional aspect of Greek food, talk a little about the culture, the geography, the population shifts and all the influences. This all takes time as you can guess so be patient there is a lot on the way.
Slow eating to me is to learn once again to sit around a dining table as we did, the way I bought my children up, enjoy each others company and savour the food in front of you. To have a bowel of salad in the middle of the table, fresh bread in a basket, a glass of wine that I believe as the tradition has it should only be drunk with food, water in a jug and never any soft drinks. Soft drinks for my children only came to the house at their birthday parties and these habits are learned, they don't drink them and their children are being bought up the same way.
For today I will start of with a regional salad from the Peloponnese, the citrus growing region of Greece. In my research I have come across an almost identical version form the citrus growing region of Valencia in Spain with only one difference, where's the Greek version has onion the Spanish version has pimento. One needs to take note of this as food in the Mediterranean often has many similarities and it has to do with geography and the climate.  The Greek version is called "Maniatiki Salata" (Salad from Mani). Mani is a region in Greece far south very barren and grows practically nothing, it is very beautiful though and worth a I'm digressing... the citrus trees are in fertile areas of the Peloponnese, mostly in the northern part called Achaea and next to Mani is Messinia which is famous for olive oil and Kalamata olives.


INGREDIENTS:   3 - 4 medium sized potatoes boiled and sliced
                               1 small onion peeled, cut in rings and put in cold water for about 20 minutes
                               8 - 10 pitted kalamata olives
                               1 orange peeled and quartered or cut in rings
                               3 - tablespoons good Greek olive oil
                               Sea salt and black pepper grated on top with caution

METHOD:           Arrange everything in the order give, drizzle with the olive oil and season
                              This like a mini meal and can be eaten any time

                              KALI ORXI