Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 15 August 2015
20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 15 AUGUST 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Meze: Greek cuisine’s most prominent offspring A short insight into the history and most importantly the concept behind meze ZOE THOMAÚDOU No Greek gathering is complete without the little plates of mezethes on the table complementing the traditional anise-flavoured liquor of ouzo or tsipouro or just a glass of wine. The word μεζέ (μεζέδες in plural) is of Turkish origin, borrowed from the Persian mazze, which means 'taste' and/ or 'snack'. Its history traces its roots back in antiquity in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region. Ancient Greeks following their usual hospitality custom would never welcome guests without something to nibble along with the drink they offered. But truthfully, nearly every Middle Eastern or Mediterranean country, and the Balkans as well, at some point developed the culinary tradition of small dishes served as appetisers or finger food. The Byzantines and later the Persians are said to have greatly influenced and inspired Turkish culinary expertise, among others. Therefore, before and during the years of the Ottoman Empire, a great number of elements from different Tzatziki (cucumber-yoghurt dip) Served with warm pita bread, it can stand alone as a delicious party dip. Ingredients: sea salt 2 medium cloves garlic 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yoghurt 3/4 cup peeled, seeded, and finely chopped cucumber 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional) Method: 1. Spread 3/4 of a teaspoon salt on a cutting board. 2. Peel the garlic and finely chop it on top of the salt. 3. Transfer the garlic and salt to a medium bowl and stir in the yoghurt. 4. Put the cucumber in a colander and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can. 5. Add the cucumber, vinegar, mint, dill, and olive oil to the yoghurt mixture. 6. Stir to blend and season to taste with salt. 7. Cover and chill for at least four hours before serving. 8. Serve cool, garnished with the mint leaves (optional). civilisations made Turkish cuisine a blend rich in both flavour and variety. The Turkish occupation left undeniable traces in the cuisine of Greece and among these a list of mouth-watering mezethes. Even though mezethes can be served to start off a meal, they should be seen as a separate eating experience rather than appetisers. In a Greek get-together it is common that a meal starts and ends with small savoury treats without any main dish served. People gather around the table and drink the good old - often homemade - tsipouro or ouzo complemented by mezethes, which are shared by everyone. But meze does not only stand as the perfect excuse for staying at home, but for having a fun night out as well. A whole category of restaurants called mezethopolia (μεζεδοπωλεία) is dedicated Melitzanosalata (rustic eggplant dip) The Lebanese version of this dip is known as baba ghanoush, which means spoiled father in Arabic. Ingredients: 2 small eggplants 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup seeded and finely diced fresh tomato 2 tablespoons minced yellow onion 1-1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh mint salt and freshly ground black pepper Method: 1. Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire (charcoal will give a smokier flavour). 2. Prick the eggplants once with the tip of a paring knife to prevent them from swelling and exploding and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. 3. Grill, covered but turning every few minutes, until the eggplants are very soft inside and the skins are charred, 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool. 4. Cut the stems off the eggplants and peel away the charred skin; discard the stems and skin. 5. Coarsely chop the flesh and transfer it to a medium bowl. 6. Add the remaining one teaspoon of oil and the tomato, onion, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano or marjoram, thyme, mint, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Mix well. 7. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Season to taste with more salt. Serve cool or at room temperature. to serving exclusively meze dishes. In fact, the heart and soul of meze is said to be in Volos, a coastal city in central Greece. If you ever find yourself in a mezethopolio in Volos, have in mind that you are only allowed to choose your drink of preference. Each time you order another round, the chef sends out one or more different small savoury plates that best pair with the drink you're having. The great thing about meze is that it can merely be a platter of olives, fried vegetables or some squid tubes; as simple as that. Alternatively, you can prepare a more 'sophisticated' one, choosing from the recipes below. Sources: bbcgoodfood.com, epicureantable.com, greekfood.com, finecooking.com, thehellenicdeli.com, Cuttlefish with spinach As it is a good source of protein and iron, this dish is traditionally eaten on Clean Monday, the beginning of the Lent period before Easter. Ingredients: 1kg cuttlefish 1kg spinach 1 cup oil 2 onions 1/2 cup white wine a little fresh dill mint salt, pepper Method: 1. Wash and clean the cuttlefish, cutting it into small pieces. Sauté the chopped onions in the oil, add the chopped dill and mint, followed by the cuttlefish pieces. 2. Allow to cook, and finish off with the wine. Season with salt and pepper, add 2 cups water and let simmer till the squid is half done. 3. Add the chopped spinach, allow to cook for 10 more minutes, and serve.
8 August 2015
22 August 2015