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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 September 2014
SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 15 FOOD The sweet and sour of citrus fruit They may not be native to Greece, but adding citrus fruit is almost a secure way to Hellenise any recipe. Lemon squeezed on souvlaki or ladolemono for your fish, Dora Kitinas- Gogos shares her favourite citrus recipes Throughout time, there have been many conflicting theories as to the origins of citrus fruit, with the most common belief being that citrus fruit is genetically tied to South East Asia. Recent research conducted by the University of Sydney, however, tells us that citrus belongs genetically to Australia, New Caledonia and New Guinea. Here we are talking about millions of years ago. The western world discovered the citrus species as they 'floated' - as scientists call the migration of plant species - to South East Asia. Today the common knowledge is that 50 per cent of citrus originated in New Guinea, but the ones that are commercially viable - such as mandarins, oranges and lemons - do come from South East Asia. Today, citrus fruit is the highest value fruit crop of international trade. It is believed that these commercial citrus fruit started appearing in South East Asia about 4,000 BC. Historians believe that citrus was introduced to Europe via Greece, the land that is today Turkey and into North Africa by Alexander's armies who brought it back from India in the late 4th century BC. The first recorded history we have of citrus in Europe is by the historian Theophrastus in 350 BC, following its introduction by Alexander the Great. In early European history writers wrote about the Persian citrus with its wonderful fragrance. Citrus was thought to be a remedy for poisoning, a breath sweetener and a repellent for moths. As with everything else Greek, the Romans adapted well to citrus and it was cultivated in North Africa. Ceramics with drawings of citrus branches and lemons have been found in the ruins of Pompeii in Southern Italy and Carthage in North Africa. After the fall of Rome to the Barbarian tribes and Muslims, the Arabs spread the cultivation of citrus to North Africa, Spain and Syria, and later the crusaders spread the citrus to the rest of Europe. Years afterwards, Christopher Columbus would take the citrus to the Americas. Citrus are grown in temperate climates and in Greece in most of the country. The Peloponnese is renowned for its citrus growing industry. Alongside olive oil, oregano and garlic, the king of citrus fruit - lemons - are without doubt one of the defining flavours of Greek cuisine. They star in the classic Greek avgolemono sauce and soup, and in the ladolemono, the classic emulsion of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, oregano and garlic. Recipes with citrus in Greek cuisine - especially lemons and oranges - are endless. Here are some favourites of mine.
20 September 2014