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Greek Salad Deconstructed - History And The Invasion Of The Tomato
Traditionally Greek salad is made with pieces of tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, onion, Feta cheese (served in a single rectangular-shaped cutting put over the vegetables), and olives (usually Kalamata olives), typically seasoned with salt and oregano, and dressed with olive oil.
GREEK CUISINE AND THE 19TH CENTURY INVASION OF THE TOMATO
Amazingly, it’s the same dish that is also one of the most popular lunch options in the United States – the Greek Salad.
In Greece we call it ‘Horiatiki’, which means village or peasant salad – basically a combination of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, green peppers, olives and feta cheese, dressed in olive oil and sprinkled with oregano. Please also note that an authentic Greek salad does not include lettuce. It is quite common for Greeks to eat seasonally. A Greek salad is primarily a summer dish, and since lettuce only grows in Greece during the winter months a traditional ‘Horiatiki’ salad does not include lettuce.
Before we take a closer look at our key ingredient – the tomato – let’s consider the history of this lovely salad. From its Greek name we assume that it was a rural dish. It is true that the salad’s essential ingredients were often what a farmer would take to the field for his mid-morning snack, only he would keep the ingredients uncut and wrapped in a cloth with a piece of bread. When the time came, he would bite straight into his chunk of feta, his tomato and even (quite heroically) his onion!
The salad’s exact origin is debatable, but one thing we can be sure of is that the Greek Salad is not part of the country’s long established traditional cuisine. We know this because, incredibly, the tomato did not become popular in Greece until the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century. This is hard to believe, considering how fast it’s made itself a home here in Greece.
The Tomato Invades Europe
Tomato seeds were first brought to Europe from South America by the Conquistadors, but due to the plant’s resemblance to atropa belladonna (Deadly nightshade) it was viewed with suspicion and grown purely ornamentally. The Italians were among the first to brave the tomato. Tomato recipes began making an appearance in Italy towards the end of the 16th century, but tomato seeds were not introduced to Greece until 1818 when the country was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Shortly thereafter, in 1821, the country embarked on a war of independence and everyone was simply too preoccupied with the war to be overly concerned with this strange new fruit.
The first tomatoes to grow in Greece were on the island of Syros. Not long after, the petite waterless tomato, similar to the cherry tomato was first grown in Santorini. To this day these tomatoes still thrive on Santorini’s rich volcanic soil, sunshine and heavy morning dew. In 1915 the first canning plant opened in Nauplion, supplied by increasing tomato production in the nearby plains of the Argolis. It wasn’t long before the tomato quickly became one of the main ingredients of Greek cuisine.
Before the Tomato Conquered Greece Today, it’s hard to imagine a time when iconic Greek dishes such as ‘domates yemistes’ (stuffed tomatoes), ‘kokkinisto’ (literally ‘reddened’ meat stew) and countless others, including, of course, the ubiquitous Greek Salad, were unheard of. Whatever did we eat before the invasion of the tomato?
Many ancient Greek tales tell us of heroes roasting oxen, sheep and goats over an open flame in honor of the gods and of course for their own enjoyment – the two always seemed to go together, and few found fault in this. The diet also consisted of milk, yogurt and cheese – Cheese that was very similar to the modern day feta. They made bread from barley and wheat. They preserved and ate olives and used olive oil in their cooking. They grew vegetables in their gardens, set out fishing nets on the sea, and searched the rocky coasts for octopus and other seafood. Sugar did not exist in those days, but the ancients satisfied their ‘sweet tooth’ with honey and fruit – grapes and figs were especially prized and eaten both fresh and dried. Wine was an important part of any meal.
It was the Greeks who produced the first ever cook book. Debating food and the best ways to enjoy it was a common practice. Some traditionalists insisted that meat and bread were the proper ‘manly’ diet and scorned the fancy cooking and more delicate dishes advocated by others. They in turn considered the ‘carnivores’ barbaric and unrefined. Then there were those who argued in favor of a purely vegetarian diet as being more civilized. It all sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?
A Culinary Love Affair Much of Greek cuisine has remained intact since antiquity, merely expanding to include new ingredients as they were introduced. Approaches to eating haven’t changed either. In the 1st century AD, Plutarch wrote, “We do not sit at the table to eat… but to eat together” – an attitude that prevails in Greece to this day.
Even though we might conclude that Greeks managed extremely well without all the ‘reddened’ dishes we enjoy today, I’m not giving up on tomatoes. They thrive in the Greek sunshine and our long, dry summers. Despite all I know of their history, they still seem quintessentially Greek to me, deeply entrenched in what we eat and how we see ourselves. So, ‘kali orexi’ (bon appétit) and pass the Greek salad!
Corn, also known as maize or our good old ( Bhutta/Makkai/Challi ) in Hindi, ‘ Mokka Jonnalu ‘ in Telugu, ‘ Makkacholam ‘ in Tamil, ‘ Cholam ‘ in Malayalam, ‘ Musukina Jol a’ in Kannada, ‘ Makkai ‘ in Gujarati, ‘ Makai ‘ in Marathi and Punjabi and ‘ Butta ‘ in Bengali. Corn is a large grain plant which is said to have originated in Mexico and Central America. Though viewed as a vegetable, it is actually a food grain. The leafy stalk of the plant produces ears, which contain the grains known as kernels. For every kernel on the cob, there is a strand of silk. The white and yellow kernels are most popular, but today, corn is available in red, brown, blue and purple also. The white and yellow hybrids are known as butter and sugar corn which contain both kinds of kernels. This cereal is known for its pleasant taste and its versatility. Baby corn is available in cans or jars in the supermarkets and is used in Asian cooking. This grain is generally available in summer and can be
Lobster fishers have been steadily increasing hauls of this kelp crops in their off-season. By Jelisa Castrodale We're already a month-plus into spring and in Maine, spring isn't just about April showers (rain or snow) or May flowers: it also marks the start of the state's seaweed harvest. According to the Associated Press, Maine is the spot for the United State's seaweed farming industry, and this year already looks like one for the record books. Atlantic Sea Farms, which works with more than two dozen seaweed farmers, told the outlet that it expects this year's briny crop to tip the scales at more than 800,000 pounds, which almost doubles last year's harvest of 450,000 pounds—a state record at the time. Over the past several years, Maine has moved from collecting wild seaweed to farmed varieties, and the annual harvests keep getting bigger. In 2018, the total haul of farmed seaweed was around 54,000 pounds, then grew to 280,000 pounds in 2019. A proje
Dining out got a new look in 1948, thanks to a 100-square foot burger shack perched next to a circular Baldwin Park, California, driveway. There, five cooks worked behind glass walls assembling take-out meals for motorists, lured by the a sign assuring “NO DELAY” and a restaurant name that promised exactly what it delivered: In-N-Out. There are a few claimants for the first fast food eatery to feature a true drive-thru, but In-N-Out Burger’s first restaurant, with its intercom ordering system and its lack of both inside seating and outside parking was likely the first to offer the complete drive-thru package. Where Did Drive-Thru Dining Begin? Before the drive-thru, though, came the drive-in, a type of restaurant where customers ate their meals on the premises without leaving their cars. The drive-in concept was first popularized by a Texas chain of eateries called the Pig Stand, whose first drive-in opened on a highway connecting Dallas and Fort Worth in 1921. Customers would pull in
INGREDIENTS 1 pound chicken livers, gizzards or boneless thigh meat ½ cup dark soy sauce or tamari ¼ cup mirin 2 tablespoons sake or dry sherry 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish PREPARATION Cut chicken into one-inch pieces and place in a shallow dish. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce or tamari, mirin, sake or sherry, brown sugar, garlic and ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes, until thickened. Reserve 2 tablespoons sauce for serving. Pour remaining sauce over chicken, cover, and chill for at least one hour (and up to 4 hours). If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for one hour. Preheat grill or broiler. Thread chicken pieces onto skewers, and grill or broil, turning halfway, for about 3 minutes for livers, 10 minutes for gizzards and 6 minutes for thighs. Serve drizzled with reserved sauce and garnished
We have been working on a dairy free pudding, in this case a banana pudding using coconut milk. The following recipe was been reworked a couple of times and the results are pretty good. In fact, you could eliminate the sugar/sweetener all together when using the roasted bananas. It all depends on how sweet you like your pudding. If you are so inclined, you could layer the pudding with cookies (as many do), but we prefer them not in our pudding. It is a personal choice. Also you could strain the bananas before adding to your warm mixture if you do not want lumps. Again, we wanted the texture of the bananas so we opted not to go this route. 1/4 cup sugar or other sweetener such as honey or gava 3 eggs 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups full fat coconut milk 1/3 cup flour 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract) 4 bananas, roasted Coconut whipped cream (optional - our recipe to be posted later) When your bananas are roasted, let cool for 5-10 minutes then re
White Fish Gravlax Serves 4 Here is a great starter, light lunch or a fantastic item for your holiday buffet. If you have problems with gluten substitute the wheat bread for a flax or millet bread or leave it out entirely and eat on some mixed greens. Gravlax 5 ounces/145 grams white fish, bass, snapper-I used tilapia (sushi grade) 2 tablespoons/30 ml coarse salt 2 tablespoons/30 ml caster sugar 1 tablespoon/15 ml of ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon/2 ml ground allspice 1/2 teaspoon/2 ml ground cloves 8-10 pieces of fresh dill fronds Mustard Butter 2 Tablespoons/30 ml 28g of unsalted butter, softened 2 Tablespoons/30 ml of dijon mustard. Salad 1 handful of watercress dressed with simple vinaigrette Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream Mix salt, sugar, black pepper, allspice, and ground cloves. Liberally sprinkle on both sides of the fish. Lay half of the dill in a glass container. Place the fish on top and cover with rest of the dill
Do you have food allergies? Can't take YEAST? Here is a simple way to substitute- Baking Soda or Baking Powder. Baking soda is also used as a leavening agent i n some bread products. However, it operates differently than yeast and may not always be suitable as a substitute. However, here is how baking soda differs from yeast and how to substitute it. Baking soda doesn’t make bread rise in the same fashion as yeast. Baking soda needs to react to an acid to cause carbon dioxide bubbles to make the bread rise. It is often called for in recipes that have a naturally acidic batter for the baking soda to react in. If your recipe calls for yeast and not baking soda, then it generally does not have the required acid for the baking soda to react in. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use baking soda as a substitute. If you want to use baking soda as a substitute for yeast, you’ll need to add an acid to the mix. Generally this is done by adding equal parts baking soda an
Do you find yourself going to the grocery store and feeling overwhelmed by everything that is on the shelves? With the hectic schedules that we all lead today it can feel like a chore to provide a good home-cooked meal for your family. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone working in your kitchen, providing delicious – and time-saving – family-friendly meals? Look no further: YaDa Chef is the stress-free answer to your family’s grocery shopping and cooking needs. A personal chef is not a luxury A personal chef service provides stress-free meals prepared to your specifications in your home. Your kitchen is left spotless with a refrigerator full of delicious meals. Having your own personal chef is not a luxury reserved for the rich. A personal chef service can cost you less than eating out at a moderately priced restaurant. Using a personal chef service can free up 10 to 12 hours of your time every week. Personal chefs are responsible for handling all the menu planning, groce
From the book Best Recipes from the backs of bottles, boxes, cans and jars 15 ounce/425g can salmon or mackerel (drained and flaked) 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons/183g dry bread crumbs* 1/2 cup/125ml Mayonnaise 1 small onion chopped 1 stalk celery chopped 1/2 red pepper chopped 1 egg beaten In a large bowl add the salmon/mackerel, bread crumbs, mayonnaise, onion, celery, pepper and egg. Mix to combine well. Place the mixture into lightly greased 9 x 5 inch/23 x 13 centimeter loaf pan. Place in a pre-heated 350F/180C/Gas 4 oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes. *Substitute 1/2 the amount of rice crumbs for a gluten free version While the salmon loaf is cooking combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, cucumber, onion and dill. Taste for salt and pepper. Let sit to marry the flavours. Cucumber Sauce 1/2 cup/125ml Mayonnaise 1/2 cup/125ml Sour Cream * 1/2 Cucumber finely chopped 1 small onion chopped 1 teaspoon/5ml dill weed * If you do not have s
Rich flavours and a hearty sauce will make everyone think you have been cooking for hours. Bone in chicken has more flavor and is the classic way to make this dish, but feel free to use a boneless piece. Serves 4 2 pounds/900g chicken leg quarters 1 teaspoon/5ml sea salt 1/2 teaspoon/2ml black pepper 1/3 cup/90ml olive oil 1/2 cup/125 dry white wine 2 medium onions chopped 1 clove garlic minced 8 ounces/225g baby bella mushrooms sliced 1/2 cup/125ml pureed tomatoes 2 tablespoons/30ml chopped parsley Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Thoroughly wash and pat dry the chicken and season with salt and pepper liberally on all sides. Brown chicken 4-5 minutes on both sides. Reduce the heat to medium and add 1/4 cup of the wine. Cook chicken for 10-12 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and 1/2 of the parsley cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and add r