Andy Cornish: May 2014
Healthy and delicious for over 4 millennia.
Greek cuisine is becoming a popular export with gastrophiles from across Europe embracing delicious mediterranean cooking. Recipe websites record many searches for traditional Greek delicacies, and restaurants outside of Greece will often offer Greek dishes on their menus. Andy Cornish provides you with the potted history along with a couple of his favourite recipes.
Cooking and eating are fundamental parts of Greek culture, with the traditional Greek Taverna an integral part of the mix. The flavours changes subtly with the seasons and have also developed over time.
Olive oil is used in my Greek dishes and has been a fundamental part of Greek cuisine since the ancient times. It is produced locally from the olive trees which are commonplace throughout the mediterranean region.
The history of Greek cooking and Greek food goes back thousands of years. The ancient Greek poet Archestratos wrote the world's first cookbook in 320 B.C. Apart from an increase in the use of meat, the ingredients used in greek cuisine haven't altered hugely at any point since.
The staple foods are known as the 'Mediterranean Triad', a blend of wheat products, olive oil and local wine. As a rule the Greeks tend to throw more herbs and spices into their dishes than their immediate Mediterranean neighbours. Oregano, mint, garlic and bay laurel leaves are commonly added to dishes, with sweet spices such as cloves or cinnamon added to stews or meat dishes.
Many Greek dishes get their roots from the Ottoman empire, their names often revealing an Arab, Turkish or even Persian heritage. Moussaka, Tzatzki and so on. Other dishes can be traced back to ancient times such as the original Greek lentil soup, and curiously pasteli. This is a type of treat, a candy bar made with sesame seeds and then baked in honey.
We've been featuring numerous Greek recipes on our network of website for many years. Below are a couple of our favourites.
The great thing about lamb kleftiko is that it is so easy to prepare but looks so impressive on the plate. The lamb should be melt-in the-mouth and the vegetables infused with all the meaty juices. more...
Beef stifado is a nourishing meaty stew made with shallot onions and should be pronounced stifatho rather than stifado with emphasis on the 'fa'. The meat is usually beef but it can be lamb, rabbit or any sort of game. more...
Greek food (by Sam) is a great Twitter feed with information, news and recipes. Everything you need to know about Greek cuisine in 120 bite-size characters. Check him out here: https://twitter.com/greekfood. He also has a great blog which is worth a read: greekgourmand.blogspot.