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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 October 2014
SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 2014 21 FOOD DORA KITINAS-GOGOS Ancient recipes Though having often written about ancient Greeks and their food culture, I felt it was time to visit the subject again, with the spotlight on our spiritual forefathers and the dig in Amphipolis that we are all holding our breath over, and the renewed interest in the Parthenon Marbles now that Amal Clooney (nee Alamuddin) is lobbying for their return to their ancestral home. There is a lot that can be written about the ancient Greeks and their diet and it helps to give a background on the way they lived and their philosophies on life, in order to be able to understand the impact this had on the way they ate. The key 'ingredient' of their lifestyle was simplicity, even amongst the rich, from the way they dressed, the way they ate to the way they amused themselves. Their homes were simple, the poor had white-washed walls and the rich's only decorations were wall murals. The furniture was simple even in rich homes. Water was collected daily and stored in the water tanks next to their homes. Soap was olive oil and sand. Cleanliness was ingrained in the culture for home and body. They did not have forks, they used knives and spoons and bread to mop up food and also to clean their hands. They had ample produce but back then Europe still did not have eggplants, peppers, okra, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, nor coffee or sugar. They also did not have rice, as we know it today - although there are records of luxurious bread made from rice flour. And Greece did not have ouzo, as they still had not discovered distillation. The set table consisted of healthy food that we would do well to mimic today. They had wine in abundance but it was drunk watered down - sometimes with sea water and it often had added ingredients such as honey. The stand-out event of eating in the ancient Greek world was the symposia (symposium in Latin). What we might call today 'dinner parties', symposia were well organised and nothing was left to chance. The food was carefully chosen, with the most famous being Plato's symposia which he later wrote about. These symposia of ancient Greece were drinking parties strictly for men. The symposia did not consist of many men and Plato's - known to reach the number of thirty - was considered to be a crowd. These gatherings were not just about food and drink; they were a venue for philosophical dialogue. I have in my possession a Greek cookbook, Ancient Dining by Maria Loi, that I bought in Greece, with spectacular recipes from the ancient world. I can only give you a few in this space but there is not one in the thirty-odd recipes that we could not salivate over today - they are all within our reach. They are healthy and, judging them, I know if we ate like this we would never have a weight problem. If you want to contact Dora, email firstname.lastname@example.org with recipe suggestions - Kali Orexi! Rabbit with mustard seeds Ingredients: 1 rabbit cut into serving size pieces 1 finely cut onion 1 spoonful of olive oil 3-4 cups of chicken stock 1 cup of white wine 2 spoonfuls of mustard seeds, roughly crushed 1 spoonful of finely chopped fresh rosemary salt and freshly ground pepper small branches of rosemary for decoration Method: 1. Sauté the onion lightly and add the rabbit pieces to sauté as well, turning constantly so they don't burn - only slightly brown. 2. Add the stock, the mustard seeds, rosemary, wine and salt and pepper. 3. Continue cooking for about 1 hour till the meat is tender. Marinated anchovies Ingredients: 1 kilo of large sized anchovies 6 tablespoons of olive oil 1 cup of vinegar 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped 5 tablespoons of sea salt granules 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley juice of one lemon coarsely ground pepper Method: Note: It's important that the anchovies are well cleaned. 1. Clean the anchovies by removing the innards, the head and opening up and removing the skeleton. Open sideways and try and leave the anchovies whole. 2.In a large bowl line up the anchovies side by side in rows, on top of one another. Salt each row before placing the next on top. Do this till all anchovies are used. 3. Once the salt layering is done pour the vinegar on top. 4. Cover the bowl and leave in the refrigerator for one day. 5. Take the fillets out, wash the salt off one by one. Lay out on a tea towel to dry. 6. Make the dressing - beat lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Pour half of this on the bottom of a platter, line up the anchovies and pour the remaining dressing on top. 7. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and ground pepper.
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