Sunday, November 3, 2013

GREEK GASTRONOMY 101


It was the Greek poet and a lover of good food and fine eating, Archestratus who wrote the first cookbook in 330 BC in his poem Hedypatheia ("Life of Luxury"). According to cookinfo.com site, although he was not a full-time cook himself, because cooks wouldn't have been educated enough generally to write, let alone write poetry. He must, though, have been a lover of good food, and must have interacted with his cooks and servants with a good deal. Archestratus offered advises how to select the finest food and where to find it in the Mediterranean. With this record, it is not a surprise how the Greeks became famous for its authentic gastronomic delights.

Greek coffee


One element of the Greek cooking that deserves a special attention is their first class and renowned olive oil. If there's a country in the world that is so attached to it historically, culturally and economically, Greece would be it! According to their mythology, the goddess Athena, Athens' patron deity gave the olive tree to the Greeks to win their loyalty. Olive oil is one of Greece largest agricultural exports. They consume per capita more olive oil than any other nation in the world.

Other noteworthy essentials to Greek cuisine are fresh ingredients – sea foods freshly catch from the Mediterranean, fruits with sweet aroma, vegetables cultivated in its mild climate and fertile soil, and special herbs and spices.

Greek Food Tried:

HALVA FARSALOU


Kalambaka, the town of my first destination, Meteora is popularly known for one of its finest product – Halva Farsalou, a sweet dessert made primarily of almonds and sugar, a perfect treat for children and adult with sweet tooth. For searching the best halva in town, I leave it to Konstantinos, the kind driver from Thessalonica to do all the talking. After a few queries from the local folks, we were directed to a local store named Rhombus, a bakery specializing in this delicacy since 1924. 

SOUVLAKI


A popular fast food favorite, it is a grilled meat (pork, chicken, lamb or beef, I definitely chose the first) marinated in red wine served as sandwich wrapped in pita bread embellish with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions and sometimes with fries.  This is quite similar to shamarma.

 CALAMARI
               
Calamari is originally an Italian word referring to the black ink that spurts from squid and this food is adopted by the their Mediterranean neighbors – the Greeks, Turks and Spanish. In the Philippines, this is called calamares as it is brought by the Spanish conquerors when they colonized the islands hundred of years ago.


MARINATED OCTOPUS IN VINEGAR


Except for adobo and some types of paksiw, foods cooked or garnished with vinegar are not my favorite delicacies to devour. Although kinilaw is a typical food served in most Visayan community located along the coastline, I had never tried eating this dish. When I saw this menu while we were dining on a fine restaurant along the streets in Acropolis, I did not hesitate to try this delicacy which is considered a classic in Greek cuisine and absolutely I have no regrets in ordering this menu.

GREEK SALAD:

Like the Parthenon, one cannot claim that he has been to Greece without trying to indulge in this all-time Greek superstar cuisine. Made of slice cucumber, fresh tomato, red onions, olives and creamy feta cheese, it is dressed in olive oil, seasoned in salt and pepper and is often served as light meal or side dish and with bread.

GREEK COFFEE

 Like foods cooked in vinegar, coffee is not one of my favorite things, I prefer tea. When I was first offered by my Greek officemate to drink this beverage, I was hesitant first but I began to love the aroma that I brought some from Athens for my own personal consumption.



KOLOURI THESSALONIKI

A crunchy, round bread sprinkled with sesame seeds, this delicious delight is a perfect match to Greek coffee. Sold anywhere in Greece costing .50 Euro, it is a traditional breakfast but can also be served anytime of the day.





TURNING INTO LASENGGERONG TSINELAS:


Friday and Beer: The words go together like bread and butter, sugar and spice, milk and honey. Friday night is a hang out night in Athens, during this time, bars and party venues are jam packed with university students and yuppies. Our Greek friend, Konstantinos treated us to a bar named "A for Athens," located right in the heart of historic center of Athens, Monastiraki Square, a charming flea market neighborhood and only a 12 minute walk from the Acropolis area through the winding roads of Plaka. "A for Athens" offers an amazing view of the Acropolis area particularly the Parthenon at night.

Although the place was crowded as expected, the spectacular and stunning sight to behold and the chilled out music makes it a perfect weekend party place to grab a bottle or two of  cold beer or some ouzo or raki. 

Words and Photos by:  Anthony Parcon

2 comments :

  1. lextremus@gmail.comNovember 4, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Good job Anthony. I recommend that you visit the Scandinavian countries next time

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Sir Lex. Hmmm, have you visited the Norwegian fjords?

    ReplyDelete

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