Monday, November 23, 2009

The Greek In Me

My family members used to joke that my mother must have had an affair with the Greek mailman thus spurring me because ever since I was a little girl my tastes were very un-American in that I craved things like kalamata olives, flaming cheese, hummus and pita as bread rather than that disgusting white-flour version with the name (of all things!) Wonder. As I grew up, Lebanese and Indian and Thai were added to my palate's favorites list but there has always been something elementally exciting to me about the simplicity of Greek food. What other culture offers up the instant meal that can be crafted in minutes from mostly fresh ingredients that don't even need to be cooked (or take little effort to be cooked). And what other nationality offers up the mainstay staple of lamb as their prime source of meat?

Lamb is the most exquisite meat that exists on this planet--the musky scent, the various textures that can be created in various meals. I had a girlfriend once whose family was Greek and my favorite thing on Sunday would be to go to her Auntie Helen's house and get a day long lesson in Greek cuisine. Koos (spelling?) was the best, coring out holes in long zucchini and stuffing it with a freshly ground lamb and rice mixture and then letting them steam all day in a pot on a lamb bone base with tomatoes swimming around them, or the handrolled dolmadas that we would get up at two a.m. to sneak cold in bed, and best of all--the lamb stuffed artichokes from which you would pull each tender leaf and have an almost instantaneous mouth orgasm when sucking the meat and from which you received a slow-tooth-pulled pile of artichoke.

It doesn't take much to whet my whistle when it comes to Greek. I would do just fine lolling away the rest of my life in a crisp and simple white building set aside a cliff above the sea, windows that don't need a pane of glass, cool breeze, and wild and vivacious dancing all night with plenty of Sambuco. Sweat and sea air and fresh fish every morn, no shoes and sundresses and a variety of raw greens. But for now, I stick with what I can get, and often make Greek salads in the summer to get me in the hot day mood. I also travel often to markets and stores that carry specific things like the amazing assortments of Voskos yogurt at Trader Joe's with flavors like honey and fig. A morning with one of these, topped off witha  drizzle of honey and maybe a crumble or two of fresh goat cheese and sprig of mint--heaven!

1 comment:

  1. Being of Greek descent, the food and the fabulous people- are very close to my heart :)