Getting a taste of Greece
It has often been said that the true Mediterranean diet is based on traditional Greek cuisine, with its emphasis on vegetables, fruits, grains, seafood, fresh meat and dairy products, and pure wine.
Following are some basic Greek ingredients
Olives and olive oil
Olive oil in Greece dates back 4000 years, but also has a significant present and promising future. It is globally acknowledged for its purity and exceptional taste and it is globally proposed as one of the features quality Greek products. It is the basis of all the Greek traditional recipes, thus proving its unique position within the Greek diet.
Far earlier than olive oil, long before wine, Greeks fell in love with honey. In ancient Greece, the bee, as well as its products, found itself in high place in the estimate of the people and the men in power. Proof of this constitutes the large quantity of mythological references and representations in ancient Greek vessels of mainly 6th century B.C. Greek honey is globally famous for its exceptional quality, its unique aroma and its rich taste. Its great diversity in terms of flavour and aroma sets it apart from its competitors, fuelling its international recognition. This advantage to a great extent derives from the rich Greek flora, which comprises numerous wild plants land herbs.
Saffron is the most precious and expensive spice in the world. The Saffron filaments, or threads, are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, "Crocus Sativus Linneaus". Each flower contains only three stigmas. These threads must be picked from each flower by hand, and more than 75,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one pound of Saffron filaments. "Crocus Sativus Linneaus" contains crocin, the source of its strong coloring property, bitter-crocin, which offers the distinctive aroma and taste and essential oils, which are responsible for its therapeutic properties. Saffron is well known since the beginning of its production for its healing attributes and its use in gastronomy. Today, the greatest saffron producing countries are Greece, Spain, Turkey, Iran, India, and Morocco. The largest saffron importers are Germany, Italy, U.S.A., Switzerland, U.K., and France.
Mastic Gum (Mastiha)
Mastic Gum comes from the resin that seeps like teardrops from the bark of the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). It is an exclusively Greek product, because although the mastic tree grows in many places it only sheds its tears, thus producing its valuable crystals, in the Aegean island of Chios. From early July until late September, the men make vertical slits, 4-5 mm deep and 10-15 mm long, in the trunks and branches of every tree twice a week. The process is called kentima, a word that also means embroidery, but it more like the jabs one makes in a leg of lamb to insert a garlic sliver. A tree can receive from between 20 and 100 slits, depending on its age. Τhe most important thing about mastic is that its good for myriad ailments. For example, a research team from the UK’s Nottingham University has found that mastic can destroy bacteria that cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.
Ouzo is a globally famous Greek drink-aperitif. It is an anise-flavored liqueur that is widely consumed throughout the country. Ouzo is exported throughout the world and Ouzo is one of Greece's most sought after products.
Greece, since the days of Homer produces quality dairy products. The first ever reference to cheese making comes in the Odyssey. Perhaps surprisingly, the first recorded cheese maker ever is not any idyllic shepherd but none other than the one – eyed giant Cyclops. As Homer explains it, Cyclops was quite the avid milk fan. After he drank swaths of it, he would leave what was left in his cold, dark cave only to become cheese shortly thereafter. Feta is arguably the best - known Greek food abroad. The European Union granted Greek Feta a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status and issued a decree prohibiting European countries other than Greece from using the name Feta. In Europe, similar cheeses now must be called “brined white cheese.” Within Greece, Feta can be made only in specific regions: Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Central Mainland Greece, the Peloponnese, and Lesvos.
Greece, the renowned birthplace of Dionysus, the god of wine, has arguably the longest wine history in the world, as well as the richest heritage. Wine culture - the consumption of wine as a social event and the appreciation of it at a very sophisticated level was something developed for the first time by the ancient Greeks. There is clear evidence that in ancient Athens it was known that the forms of cups were affecting the taste of wine. Nowadays, Greece has a major role in the international wine culture and industry.In a wine world that is increasingly dominated by chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, indigenous grape varieties can provide a much needed point of difference. Greek wine producers, through better understanding of vine physiology, matching site and grape variety and attention to detail, have realised the potential of local viticultural treasurers.
For more information about Greek cuisine, please visit http://www.kerasma.gr/