Spicy, sweet, hot´n cold say "Calimera" to Greek Cuisine

It is 8 p.m., the sun´s going down, I´m sitting on a terrace, my legs on the unstable table, and my hair is slowly drying in a sea breeze. The air is humid. Sun is drawing beautiful layers of...

DSC_0898

It is 8 p.m., the sun´s going down, I´m sitting on a terrace, my legs on the unstable table, and my hair is slowly drying in a sea breeze. The air is humid. Sun is drawing beautiful layers of orange, pink and yellow in the sky. I´m looking at my tanned legs thinking that I have probably never been more tanned than this (my family agreed by calling me a little gypsy when I returned home, fair enough). Some cats are fighting nearby, I´m sipping some ?retsina? (traditional wine we bought at a local producer today).  It´s quite sweet and they said we won´t feel tipsy after drinking this one.If you are wondering, I´m traveling through Corfu, and the man selling wine was wrong, I got tipsy and realized it afterwards while walking along local ´tavernas´ as all the different smells were mixing around us. Loved the smokey scent coming from the grill where they prepared traditional gyros. Greek cuisine has both Italian and Arabic influences. Its climate provides good conditions for cultivation of olives and Greece is 3rd in the world in their cultivating. Corfu is known as a ´green island´.  From October to April there is a fair amount of rainfall when trees absorb their water supplies so they can easily pass the summer heat waves. The water is transparent like crystal, no joke, it was like scuba diving without goggles. Attention on the roads! When planning our trip we wanted to rent a car and drive around the Island as it is quite tiny but we quickly changed our minds after we arrived. The roads are narrow and there are many buses with tourists driving around, I swear that going through some towns, the back mirror of the bus was no more than 2 cm from the house on the street, I felt so sorry for the drivers at that moment! Still, we had an amazing time there.  There are areas which are quite crowded, however, you can always find unspoiled areas with amazing views where you feel like you are on top of the world. Now here is a brief look at Greek cuisine, enjoy!

Tzatziki

You may not be all that familiar with Greek cuisine, but you must of heard of a yogurt dip called tzatziki made from famous thick creamy Greek yogurt, grated cucumber and garlic. The addition of herbs is arguable. Locals declare that the traditional way is without any herbs, while some prefer adding a mixture of oregano and dried garlic, while others add dill. I have tried all of them, and while none were awful, if you have good quality yogurt, fresh cucumber, olive oil and a pinch of salt, you have no need for any other ingredients.

greek fast food

Greek salad

Famous Greek salad may be found on menus in restaurants all over the world. Not all of them, however, keep it traditional. A real Greek salad should only contain tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (not necessary), onions, olives and feta cheese drizzled with generous amounts of olive oil and vinegar. I have seen instances where leaf vegetables were added to ?so called? Greek salad.  Don´t do  this please.  I would rather you put twice as many vegetable leaves into a Caesar salad, but please keep the Greek salad pure.

Day21 My Greek Salad
My Greek Salad
Moussaka and Pastitsio

DSC_0852These are the two most popular Greek ´al forno´ baked dishes.   Let´s start with the more common of the two - Moussaka.   Moussaka, also called ´aubergine lasagna´, is a dish made from aubergines and a tomato sauce with minced meat and seasoned with cinnamon. In an oven- proof pan, put layers of aubergine and tomatoe sauce finishing with a layer of bechamel sauce. Maybe you have been served moussaka with potatoes on the botton, very common, but not the traditional way of serving. Many recipes include potatoes to make the dish more heavy, Greeks however, traditionally serve it with bread.

The less common of the two - Pastitsio is much similar, except you exchange aubergines for pasta (most common are macaroni). Final touch is also bechamel. Both dishes are then baked exactly like lasagna. The minced meat used can be beef or lamb or a mixture of the two.

Baklava, Kadaif and Galaktoboureko

The three most famous Greek desserts are strongly influenced by muslim countries and Arabic cuisine using lots of honey and spices such as cardamon and cinnamon.  All of them have very intense sweet flavours thanks to the addition of honey and sugar syrup. The base is puffed pastry.

Baklava is made of layers of puffed pastry and nuts mixed with honey and spices. It is first cut and then baked as puffed pastry can be difficult to cut into precise pieces once it is baked.   Generous amounts of sugar syrup are then poured over the already baked baklava.

DSC_0872

Galaktoboureko is prepared in the same way as baklava with pastry cream replacing the nuts.Kadaif is much different. The preparation does not include puffed pastry.  The pastry here has a special shape of spaghetti. They are rolled around the nut filling and immersed in sugar syrup after baking.

pastry

Ouzo and retsina

Ouzo is an apperitive with 40% volume of alcohol made from anise and if you add in some water to it, the ouzo turns cloudy white.

DSC_0859Retsina is a special wine with the aroma of resin. In ancient times, the recipients for storing wine were sealed with resin and so its scent affected the flavour of the wine. With the invention of barrels, the taste of resin disappeared from wine but it was so popular that some producers continued storing it the traditional way until recently.