Salted Fish is a Traditional Greek Food

Salted Fish is a Traditional Greek Food

Salt has been sprinkled over food throughout the centuries and Greece is no exception. There are places in the world that derived their wealth from salt mining, and its use in Greece can be traced back to ancient times. It is unclear why and how the ancient peoples throughout the world started mining and using salt.

Back in Ancient Greece, however, salt wasn’t looked at as a common season. It was used sparingly, but over the centuries, its importance grew. By the 5th Century B.C., salt was regularly being used to preserve whole fish, and this is a practice that’s still done. Here’s some more information as to how the Greeks use salt

fidh-greek food, bakaliaros

Salt Was Considered a Luxury

Back in Ancient Greece, salt was considered a luxury item, which is why it wasn’t used as the main seasoning in the cooking back then. It was relatively difficult to obtain it, as most of the salt found in Ancient Greece was mined on the island of Salamis. Although it doesn’t seem like a great distance now, it was considerable during ancient times since it was shipped using boats before distributing it to the rest of Greece.

Salting Whole Fish

One of the earliest uses of salt was to use it to preserve fish. As mentioned above, by the 5th Century B.C., salted fish was becoming a staple food in Greece. In fact, the salted anchovies that were are so familiar with today were served even then! Whether Greeks salt the fish themselves or use canned and salted anchovies that they purchased in the store, these fish aren’t normally eaten as is. They’re usually rinsed with water and then marinated with olive oil, lemon juice, herbs such as parsley, and maybe a sprinkling of red wine vinegar.

Using Salted Cod

Salted cod is another product that can still be found in Greece. Codfish are much larger than anchovies, and salted cod can either be purchased as a whole fish or in smaller pieces. The fact that cod has been overfished is possibly evidence as to how popular it has been, and salting it was a natural way to preserve it. Salted cod can be kept unrefrigerated for long periods of time. When ready to use, moisture was added to it, which served to both reconstitute the fish and to also remove some of the salt. For a time, salted cod was considered a major protein source since meat was often hard to come by. Referred to as bakaliaros, salted cod is still part of the cuisine. Today, it is most often reconstituted in milk or water, breaded, and fried in olive oil.

As you can see, salt has been an important part of Greek cuisine since Ancient Greece. Although it was considered a luxury item back then, salting whole fish became a fairly widespread practice. Salted anchovies and salted cod are two common fishes that have been an integral part of Greek food for centuries and some version of both of these foods can be found all over the world.

Source: GreekBoston.com

Ouzo as a way of life in Greek culture and cusine!

Ouzo as a way of life in Greek culture and cusine!

History 

Ouzo has a special place in Greek cuisine and culture and it is an original  Greek aperitif. In Greece especially, it is the perfect choice to accompany sea food delicacies in a seaside setting, with good friends. Tradition traces it back to 14th century Athonian monasteries, when by chance some monks mixed alcohol with anise.

Ouzo is a product with protected designation of origin (PDO) within the European Union (EU). Initially it was manufactured in the regions of Tyrnavos, and Kalamata, while at the end of 19th century Lesvos island is the most  famous nationally and internationally ouzo producer being the company of Plomari. There is a production of 7 million liters each year, of which 80% is consumed within Greek borders.

 

Tradition and cuisine

 

When someone tastes ouzo with mezes they surely will not forget the moment. Moments like those are spent amongst good company, with loved and cherished people. Mezes are served on a big plate in the middle of the table and everyone shares food from the same plate, that’s why one Meze is never enough, kind of like ‘Lays’!

Traditional “Ouzeri” (ouzo specialized taverns) are everywhere in Greece. Ouzo is served in small shaped bottles together with ice cubes on a separate plate. You can drink it plain – without water, just ice – or you can drink it mixed with water, depends what you prefer better. As already mentioned mezes follow  the drinks.

A big variety of sea food is mostly eaten, but also some meat plates, green vegetables, small Greek type pies and Greek cheese. This type of lunch or even in special occasions, a night out combined with good company can last for hours.

ouzo

ouzo

Its unique flavor has the ability to remain undistorted of the various aromas’ of the Meze plates that accompany it. Thus it becomes a choice of food lovers, those who like good food, those who like to enjoy a meal in the shade of great Plane tree, or along a beautiful Greek island’s coastal sea front tavern.

Ouzo and its ‘ancestor’ tsipouro are rightfully identified with Greece and its people.

Source: https://www.portoplanet.com/

Vegetarian Vegan Tastes

Vegetarian Vegan Tastes

Discovering Greece’s Vegetarian Vegan Tastes

Greek vegetarian vegan tastes are simple, and when someone wants to sense their identity, then they need to visit Greece. If you’ve never walked under the warm and bright sun of Greece, nor sat under an olive tree, smelled fresh thyme, oregano, sage, experienced simplicity over complexity, then it would be difficult for you to sense and comprehend the superiority and uniqueness of Greek vegetarian vegan food, diet and lifestyle.

Greece’s bright blue sky, the serenity of its sea, and the fact of being at the crossroad of three continents, have always attracted people from around the world and even in ancient times great Mediterranean civilizations endeavored to establish political and economic dominance (or relations) with the Greek world.

As a result, over the centuries Greece has inevitably become a melting pot of cultures, foods and civilizations. Ancient Greeks had, and still have, that certain superiority over its neighbors that not even the mightiest Roman and Ottoman empires could overwhelm.

This superiority allowed them to guard their traditions and look after what was really important and valuable to them, even adapting foreign habits and inheritance to their culture and lifestyle. This is the environment where their admirable diet was created, becoming an important part of their daily life.

Greek Diet

Greek cuisine boasts delightful, tasteful, light and healthy ingredients that are supported by the climate and nutritional elements of the land. The sun and salty sea play a key role in the growing process of agricultural products, with unique beneficial effects on crops. And of course, raw materials are fresh and rich in nutrients, but no one can neglect the importance of recipes. They have always been passed down by word-of- mouth, from mother to daughter, from neighbor to neighbor.

The Ancient Greeks discovered the therapeutic properties of greens and herbs. Many Greek philosophers recommended a healthy and balanced diet to heal diseases and pain. Greeks have always used a great variety of greens, herbs and vegetables in their diet and today’s Greek “cookery books” include more than 2.500 vegetarian and vegan recipes.

Many vegetarian dishes are served as a healing method for chronic diseases, or to contrast severe adverse health effects. Let’s have an overview of the most important ingredients you’ll find in the main recipes

greek-diet

Pulses

Pulses and especially beans were and still are one of Greeks’ favorites, maybe more in the countryside than in the big cities nowadays. In the past, beans were even considered Greece’s most representative dish, like pasta in Italy.

Spices

Who can ever imagine Greece’s countryside without the smell of thyme, oregano, and sage? And the famous Greek salad would never be so fragrant without its fresh oregano!

Olive Oil

Bread with olive oil is still today a favorite snack for kids in Crete and Mani regions. From the Food science perspective, olive oil has a great content of unsaturated fatty acids that contribute in lowering cholesterol levels (HDL) in blood. Therefore, as Greeks use mostly olive oil in their diet (extra virgin olive oil) they have a natural and unintentional protection against cardiovascular diseases and in some cases against some forms of cancer.

Bread

Bread was and still is the main daily constituent of Greek diet. It also has a distinctive place among festive recipes. It takes many shapes and is often “disguised” with particular names inspired by tradition and according to different recipes.

greek-bread

greek-bread

Greek Bread

Shape, baking process, and flour type largely define the bread type:
APOPYRIAS: Bread cooked in the ash
KLIVANITIS: Bread cooked in a mould
STREPTIKIOS: Braid-shaped Bread
SEMIGDALITIS: Bread made of semolina
VOTINIOS: Mushroom-shaped Bread

Ancient theatrical plays, poems, historical and mythological records, describe how bread, greens and vegetables and olives were the primary foodstuffs in Greek diet while dairy products were served as a supplement.

Cheese

The first recorded cheese manufacturer in Greek History was Cyclops Polyphemus from Homer’s Odyssey poem. Odysseus tried to steal food from his cave and found several cheese types ripening. Fresh unpasteurized cheeses like mizithra (white soft cheese) are some of the main dairy products made in Greece and still produced and consumed today. Also sour cheese is greatly appreciated in Greece nowadays, it was first created by accident as fresh cheese was forgotten and left to sour.

Traditional Greek Dishes

Ever since, Greeks unwittingly follow the rules of simplicity and temperance using countless combinations of greens, herbs and vegetables, eating vegetarian dishes that retain the aroma of tradition, foods rich in taste and flavor but also helpful for a balanced and healthy diet.

greek-dishes

greek-dishes

Collage Greek dishes
Here is a selection of some of the most famous and traditional dishes you can’t fail to taste while visiting Greece!

Prasyni salata – Greens salad: Greens from the mountain, salt, onion, pepper, olive oil
Horta vlitta me Kolokythia Vrasta: Boiled wild greens vlita with zucchini and potatoes, fresh lemon juice and raw olive oil
Gygantes fournou – Oven roasted big white beans: white big beans, tomatoes, parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil.
Fava – Yellow split pea puree: Puree, olive oil, onion
Koukia xera – Broad bean puree: Broad bean, salt, olive oil, lemon
Gemista – Stuffed vegetables with rice: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini squash, onion, parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper
Kolokythoanthi – Stuffed zucchini Flowers: zucchini flowers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, rice, salt, pepper, olive oil
Dolmades – Stuffed vine leafs: vine leafs, rice, onion, olive oil, tomato, salt, pepper
Pantzaria – Beet salad: Beets, salt, olive oil, vinegar, garlic
Kolokythakia tiganita: Fried courgettes
Dakos: Rusks with fresh tomato, olive oil, feta cheese and oregano
Hortopitakia – Small pies with greens dough: water, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, flour. Filling: greens like spinach, fennel, mint, parsley, leeks, spring onions, olive oil, salt, pepper
Marathopyta – Fennel pie
Myzithropita me meli – Cretan soft cheese pie with thyme honey
Tiganites me Petimezi – Cretan pancakes with grapes syrup
Horiatiki – Greek salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, onion, olives, olive oil, vinegar, salt, oregano
Briam – Baked summer vegetables: Zucchini, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper;
Kolokythokeftedes – Courgettes patties: Zucchini squash, onions, toasted bread, salt, pepper, flour, olive oil for frying
Revithia – Chickpeas in flour lemon sauce Chickpeas, olive oil, onion, salt, pepper, flour, lemon juice.

Source:http://blog.traveleurope.com

Giorgos Portokalakis

Giorgos Portokalakis

About the Author

Giorgos Portokalakis
Giorgos Portokalakis Founder and owner of Porto Club, Giorgos is a passionate about Cretan food and culture and loves sharing this passion with guests and clients. Since 2000 he has been specializing in the field of special concepts of tourism with emphasis in Eco – Tourism, food, wine, culture and cooking classes for all lifestyles including gluten free followers, vegetarians and meat eaters. After spending over 40 years in the travel and cooking industry, he loves telling about the wonders of Crete, the family warmth of Cretan people, but also sharing the delights of Cretan cuisine with people who really appreciate good, fresh, natural and healthy cooking and slow food! Booking one of his food tour you will have the opportunity to taste the best of Cretan traditional Vegetarian cuisine and you will experience a way of life that very few tourists have the chance to enjoy.

 

Greece’s vegetarian lifestyle

Greece’s vegetarian lifestyle

Greece’s vegetarian lifestyle:

Religion and fasting

Fasting in Orthodox Christian world is a way to clean souls by willingly avoiding temptations of gluttony taste related to meat and other animal products as well as daily food quantities, throughout the fasting period. At the same time, people must keep away from “spiritual temptations” (passions) too.

During the first millennia A.D. the Greek Orthodox Church defined the small and great fasting periods that Orthodox Christians should observe, in accordance with the fasting that our Lord Jesus Christ did for 40 days in the desert. Nonetheless, the fasting period “habits” of Orthodox Church found fertile “ground” within Greeks, since the ancient Greek dietary habits (eg Eleusinian mysteries – a ritual initiation) were very similar to the newly introduced rules. The catharsis of the body and mind is the target of any religion (Vedas, Bible, Koran) imposing fasting periods.

Also other mystic characters, like Moses and Pythagoras among others, followed the 40 days fasting on their “journeys to self-knowledge”, during which it is known they drank water only to purify their body and mind.

According to Greek Orthodox Church, deviations from vegan to vegetarianism should be performed depending on the seasons (eg Autumn and Spring fasting), for more or less 6 months a year. Until the early 1970s the majority of the Greek population followed this diet, which was literally engraved in their minds since pre–Christian times.

However, as the Greeks passed from the traditional way of living to the modern society’s fast paced and stressful living rhythm, this wisdom was gradually lost, especially in major cities. In small cities and small communities nevertheless the wisdom has been preserved by community members and still flourishes nowadays. Indeed, both Small Fasts (every Wednesday and Friday) and longer ones (40 days before Christmas, 49 days before Easter and 15 days before August) are still observed.

Many Greek specialty dishes, like Ladera (a special subcategory of casseroles, exclusively made of greens vegetables and grains) are linked to Greek Orthodox Christian religion commands. In accordance with the precepts of the Church, during fasting periods Ladera, a few olives and bread provide proper nourishment to the peasants who have been working hard every day in the fields for centuries, making these days also pleasant and healthy.

On many week fasting days (Wednesdays and Fridays) all animal products are prohibited, as well as fats and oils – following the vegan diet and lifestyle, actually the need of people to eat something tasty and substantial activates women’s creativity and for more than 1000 years Greek farm housewives and mothers have been using their inspiration to create a large number of different “ladera” options, our today’s inheritance!

Dried fruits, raisins, honey and Petimezi (a thick, non-fermented grape juice) are some of the additional ingredients used in the preparation of traditional recipes of pulses and Ladera: they often serve as substitutes for animal origin proteins. An example is the use of Tahini instead of fats and oils in food recipes in order to achieve a better and more nourishing result.

Fasting has also had certain health benefits for Greeks. In other words, fasting is a healthy nutritional model based on wisely used seasonal disposable products.

Source:http://blog.traveleurope.com

Giorgos Portokalakis

Giorgos Portokalakis

About the Author

Giorgos Portokalakis
Giorgos Portokalakis Founder and owner of Porto Club, Giorgos is a passionate about Cretan food and culture and loves sharing this passion with guests and clients. Since 2000 he has been specializing in the field of special concepts of tourism with emphasis in Eco – Tourism, food, wine, culture and cooking classes for all lifestyles including gluten free followers, vegetarians and meat eaters. After spending over 40 years in the travel and cooking industry, he loves telling about the wonders of Crete, the family warmth of Cretan people, but also sharing the delights of Cretan cuisine with people who really appreciate good, fresh, natural and healthy cooking and slow food! Booking one of his food tour you will have the opportunity to taste the best of Cretan traditional Vegetarian cuisine and you will experience a way of life that very few tourists have the chance to enjoy.

 

Crete and Cretan vegetarian diet

Crete and Cretan vegetarian diet

Crete and Cretan vegetarian diet

Historical evidence and mythology have extensively proved Cretans’ nutritional preferences throughout the centuries as well as their fondness for basic products.

I would like to introduce you to one of the most tasty and healthy cuisines in the world but also to a magnificent ancient civilization. Learn about the art of Cretan vegetarian nutrition and cooking.

Their diet is typically based on products that originate from the island’s farmlands and mainly includes plates of raw or home cooked greens, grains, pulses, vegetables, olive oil, and fruits. Cretan diet is based on fresh and natural produce that is cooked in their original form without any addition in the preparation of the recipes of processed or complicated sauces and only enriched with fresh spices and aromatic herbs that grow on the island of Crete.

Vegetarian Food

The taste and aroma of Cretan plates are perfectly balanced and recipes are typically passed on from older women to younger ones, e.g. grandmother, mother, aunt, sister and so on, rather than from neighbor to neighbor, just like a class in school so that their food traditions last in time. Most of the dishes are very colorful and well presented (big variety and combinations of vegetables, pulses, and greens) in Cretan diet, but taste still comes before presentation.

vegetarian-food

Raw materials

Basic ingredients are greens, vegetables, fresh herbs, spices, and olive oil. With a recorded history and culture dating back to 2500 B.C. (more than 5000 years ago) the Island’s cuisine has been clearly influenced in a unique way over time, and has evolved to its current state blending traditions from three different continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa. Mediterranean Sea played a significant ‘role’ in Crete’s cuisine. The salt and iodine of the Mediterranean Sea around the island, make lands particularly fertile, fortifying and enriching the agricultural products with their presence. The diet of locals also includes fish and other seafood almost in the same proportion as meat.

Olive oil on bread, wine for the spirit, sweet for the soul…

Back to the origins. Homemade bread, olive oil, wine, and spoon desserts have nourished Cretans throughout the centuries until today, with no need to be supplemented with standardized, processed food.

cretan-food

Cretan Food

Although not very rich in meat proteins, Crete’s cuisine never lacks in quality and quantity of foods, because housewives always cook creative dishes as casseroles, pies, stews, spoon desserts and so on, to the delight of real gourmands. Simple and healthy tastes support a centuries old gastronomic tradition, so powerful and original that it features different specialties and traditional dishes at each and every festivity or local celebration.

Crete’s vegetarian – vegan tastes

Cretans discovered the healing properties of the greens and herbs of their island a very long time ago. Even today that modern, chemistry based Medicine and Pharmaceutical industry have replaced the medicinal knowledge of our ancestors, Cretan farmers still collect greens and herbs from the mountains, mix them, and use them as natural and practical methods to heal their families.

As I’ve spent my childhood living in the city, I’ve never understood the need of a different and specific diet for each season. Later, as soon as I started to work in the tourism industry, with a particular fondness for alternative types tourism such as agro-tourism and ecotourism, I realized and came to the conclusion that Cretans have not adopted a vegetarian lifestyle intentionally, but rather because of their daily needs.

Taste of Crete

Also the Greek Orthodox Church has largely contributed towards this lifestyle as they include the practice of Small Fasts (every Wednesday and Friday) and longer ones (Christmas, Easter and August) among their precepts. Vegetables soups and pulses. Meat is out of the menu. Greens are eaten boiled an seasoned with fresh lemon juice and raw olive oil, or fried in olive oil; they are also used to fill the famous Cretan pies.

Ecologically, and spiritually minded, varied, balanced and especially tasty, Cretan food is said to be the ideal diet which ensures good health and long life. Research shows that people who eat according to Crete’s traditional ways, have less chance of suffering from heart disease, and are generally healthier even than people living in the neighboring Mediterranean countries. Their secret? Cretans typically eat twice as much fruit as other Europeans, a quarter less meat and more pulses. Think about it…

Source:http://blog.traveleurope.com

Giorgos Portokalakis

Giorgos Portokalakis

 

About the Author

Giorgos Portokalakis
Giorgos Portokalakis Founder and owner of Porto Club, Giorgos is a passionate about Cretan food and culture and loves sharing this passion with guests and clients. Since 2000 he has been specializing in the field of special concepts of tourism with emphasis in Eco – Tourism, food, wine, culture and cooking classes for all lifestyles including gluten free followers, vegetarians and meat eaters. After spending over 40 years in the travel and cooking industry, he loves telling about the wonders of Crete, the family warmth of Cretan people, but also sharing the delights of Cretan cuisine with people who really appreciate good, fresh, natural and healthy cooking and slow food! Booking one of his food tour you will have the opportunity to taste the best of Cretan traditional Vegetarian cuisine and you will experience a way of life that very few tourists have the chance to enjoy.

 

 

Cretan cuisine

Cretan cuisine

Cretan cuisine,

discovering traditional products and flavours

Crete, a beautiful island placed in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, couldn’t be less than an important centre and crossroad of commercial and cultural exchanges throughout the centuries. Cretan diet is the result of the long history of the island. It’s a real philosophy and lifestyle, aimed at harmonizing body and spirit with nature.

The study of the Minoan civilization shows a culture with pure and healthy nutritional habits. Interestingly enough, Cretan cuisine wasn’t influenced by anyone. For more than 2 millennia, Cretans have rejected the presence of conquerors by sparingly calibrating relational dynamics and avoiding foreign influences on their diet, literally keeping them away from their culture and their kitchens.

The place, its ingredients, the knowledge of cooking practices, and cooks make the mosaic of every local cuisine. The gastronomic tradition of any country in the world includes a plethora of original recipes which give the stigma of every era and follow the festivities and religious events of its place of origin. And of course, the culture of taste is purely feminine. Cretan housewives have passed down their recipes and their experience with love and care to their families from generation to generation for centuries, while taking full advantage of the ingredients that mother earth had to offer.

Crete is blessed by nature, and thanks to its good weather conditions, it is also rich in vegetation. So among glades, brooks, and rivers, besides vineyards, walnut trees and chestnut trees, green leafy vegetables like chicories, stamnagathi (spine chicory), sorrels, myronia, and leeks in the wild here, in all their full beauty.

Since the Minoan era, olive oil, wheat, dairy products, vegetables, fish and, in part, also meat, were the ingredients of delicious meals which ensured health and longevity. But natural foods ripened in the Sun play the main role in this land, an wheat and olive oil have always been the basis. Kneaded bread, olives, olive oil, food made from cereals, pulses, vegetables, grapes and nuts have a leading role since the birth of the Minoan civilization.

The natural and fresh are always the favourites. Cretan cuisine is characterized by frugal ingredients, pure tastes, simplicity. Over the centuries, Cretans managed to keep the nutritional habits of their ancestors. As a result, olive oil, wild green leafy vegetables, vegetables, pulses, fish, brown bread, dairy products, honey and red wine are the masters on Cretan tables. Stone and tradition, thyme and honey, wild green leafy vegetables from the mountains and unique herbs, talented Cretan women compete in grandeur with contemporary master chefs and claim to hold the best of delicious and traditional recipes ever.

In the past, Cretan women used to work in the fields all day with the rest of the family, so they didn’t have time for cooking. For this reason, food had to be simple, easy to prepare but strengthening and tasty at the same time. Men and women alike were in charge of the preparation of food at the time, whereas its management was clearly a woman’s matter, so the latter eventually defined the qualitative characteristics of Cretan diet: simplicity, originality of the ingredients and tastes, the exclusive use of olive oil. Of course the main rule was conviviality, eating together and sharing meals with the whole family.

What is more, visitors and tourists, too, have the privilege to taste original Cretan food because, especially in small villages, the kitchens of all tavernas and bars are managed by wives, mothers, mothers-in-law, daughters. The culinary tradition is carried from generation to generation and is alive because Cretan housewives only cook what they already know in ways that they know and not how tourists would like; the result is that visitors and tourists accept and adore this delicious package of Cretan culture. They eat and drink in a Cretan way, they love Cretan feasts and enjoy Cretan traditional food in its authenticity.

Crete has peculiar tastes. Exquisite cheese, exceptional olive oil, a great variety of herbs and spices. Taste the Sarikopites and the kalitsounia, the antikristo and the boubouristous snails, with the rest of the unique maze of tastes and flavors. Taste the goods of the Cretan land and sea and enjoy its flavours on your palate, knowing that they have travelled through the centuries and the cultures of 3 continents because in Crete food is hospitality, civilization, history, pleasure. A pleasure that makes life here even sweeter.

Crete is one of the few regions where visitors won’t need reserve pizza and souvlaki because anywhere they will enjoy good food, beautiful surroundings and attractive prices.

Author: Giorgos Portokalakis

Source:http://blog.traveleurope.com

Giorgos Portokalakis

Giorgos Portokalakis

About the Author

Giorgos Portokalakis Founder and owner of Porto Club, Giorgos is a passionate about Cretan food and culture and loves sharing this passion with guests and clients. Since 2000 he has been specializing in the field of special concepts of tourism with emphasis in Eco – Tourism, food, wine, culture and cooking classes for all lifestyles including gluten free followers, vegetarians and meat eaters. After spending over 40 years in the travel and cooking industry, he loves telling about the wonders of Crete, the family warmth of Cretan people, but also sharing the delights of Cretan cuisine with people who really appreciate good, fresh, natural and healthy cooking and slow food! Booking one of his food tour you will have the opportunity to taste the best of Cretan traditional Vegetarian cuisine and you will experience a way of life that very few tourists have the chance to enjoy