Greek Island Food

Mr N. left for Africa a few days ago and unfortunately he took all my food photos with him. I have lots of interesting things to show you but, dear reader, you’ll have to wait until October.

I haven’t been cooking much lately; I’m trying to find my inspiration…However I do have something interesting to share. Last weekend the sister, friend M1 and I visited an island in the Aegean. It is quite close to Athens, Greece (about an hour by boat) and it was lovely. On our way there we met some of the locals. They all suggested places for us to eat and there were a few tavernas that were highly recommended.

Taverna is in a way the Greek equivalent of the French bistro or the Italian trattoria: a cozy place with (ideally) authentic local food, simple and inexpensive. Checked tablecloths, wooden uncomfortable chairs and short thick glasses for Greek wine or beer describe the Greek taverna. Some of them serve fish (grilled or deep fried), others meat (grilled) and many of them serve both. But all of them serve Greek appertisers, Greek home cooked food (usually oven baked), Greek wine and almost always fresh fruit for dessert. I personally don’t agree with only fruit being offered as there are a lot of interesting Greek desserts that would perfectly complement a meal, but that is a thought for another post…

Visiting the island for the fist time (to be honest I was there before but it’s been ages since and I was unable to remember anything), we opt to dine to the recommended places. For a family of three with a teenage daughter and a middle aged gay man to be recommending the same places, that must mean that the food there will be at least decent. Or so we thought…. We ate at 3 different tavernas, in 3 different locations around the island and the food was very average. Not terrible, but definitely not coming back for it…

And this brings me to my point: Greece is a country which, because of its location and climate offers a great variety of fresh ingredients. Fresh seafood, meat, fruits and vegetables are widely available (depending on the season) and, especially in rural areas or in the islands, they taste amazingly! If you’ve ever tasted a tomato straight from the ground you’ll know what I mean :) And it is such a pity not to take advantage of such freshness and variety. With that foundation only amazing, home cooked food should be offered, especially from the non-touristy, local places. Greek grandmothers have so many interesting recipes to share and the owners of the Tavernas should make use of all this knowledge and ingredients and create something at least well above the average food we tasted last weekend. It is not a matter of demand and supply (yes, tourists visit the islands and will continue doing so without expecting mind-blowing food) but for me, it is a matter of respect for one’s self.

There is a lot more to tell about this but let’s keep these thoughts for the future…Let me get back to trying to find my inspiration and hopefully this week more adventures (and photos) will follow!