By Aglaia Kremezi
Including recipes from
New York's acclaimed Molyvos Restaurant
"Aglaia's Kremezi's book is as seductive as the Greek islands she evokes."—Claudia Roden
Let's shatter the idea that Greek food is little more than stuffed grape leaves, a greek salad, and a gryo eaten on a city street corner. Greece, like its Mediterranean neighbor, Italy, has exciting regional cooking that is based on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Now comes a book to help us appreciate the diversity of and history behind Greek cuisine.
The Foods of the Greek Islands: Cooking and Culture at the Crossroads of the Mediterranean. by Aglaia Kremezi, is a groundbreaking cookbook featuring the regional foods of the more than 170 inhabited Greek islands. The recipes from the islands vary tremendously and include Tomato Patties from Santorini; Spaghetti and Lobster from Kithira; Braised Lamb with Artichokes from Chios; Greens and Potato Stew from Crete; Spinach, Leek and Fennel Pie from Skopelos; and Rolled Baklava from Kos. Now that's Mediterranean!
Aglaia Kremezi is an Athens journalist, an award-winning cookbook author, and a frequent contributor to magazines, including Gourmet. Over the last eight years she has been collecting recipes from local island women, fishermen, farmers, and bakers. Many of these recipes have never been recorded, just passed down through the generations.
Greece has served as a crossroads to the Mediterranean since the time of Homer. The islands are located between Italy and Turkey, which have often been at war with each another throughout history. That fact made for hard times but resulted in some wonderful food. Italian influences show up in Greek pastas and polentas. Eastern seasonings turn up in many dishes.
"Greek island cooking relies on flavorful ingredients rather than complicated techniques," says Kremezi. Seasonal vegetables, leafy greens, grains, olives, olive oil, beans, local cheeses, fish (fresh or cured), occasionally meat, and fresh herbs and seasonings like fennel, dill, thyme, and garlic are the ingredients for everyday cooking on the Greek islands.
Island cooking has always been shaped by the various rites of the Greek Orthodox Church. Christmas, Easter, and August 15, the feast of the Virgin Mary's Assumption, are the most colorful of the festivals. Easter is preceded by the 40 days of Lent, during which people abstain from all foods derived from animals (meat, dairy products, and eggs), as they do every Wednesday and Friday throughout the year. This abstention has inspired cooks to invent a number of exquisite vegetarian dishes that substitute for the more familiar versions made with meat. Lenten Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice; Pasta with Olive Oil, Onions, and Spices; Tomato and Onion Flatbread, and Zucchini or Chickpea Fritters are just a few of the flavorful examples. There is plenty of celebration food as well, like Roast Leg of Lamb with Potatoes, fragrant with garlic, oregano, and thyme, and Baked Chicken with Orzo.
Through the transcription of these treasured recipes, the stories of local traditions and customs, and Kremezi's beautiful photographs of islanders preparing their specialties The Foods of the Greek Islands records a cuisine and a way of life that could have been lost.
A journalist, photographer, and food columnist for leading Athens newspapers and magazines, Aglaia Kremezi is a contributing writer for the Los Angeles Times and Gourmet. She won a Julia Child Award for her first book, The Foods of Greece. An internationally known expert on Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, she has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning. She helped develop the menu for New York City's famous Greek restaurant Molyvos. She divides her time between Athens and her house on the Greek island of Kea.
The Foods of the Greek Islands
Cooking and Culture at the
Crossroads of the Mediterranean
By Aglaia Kremezi
Houghton Mifflin, November 2000
Full-color photographs throughout
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created March 2001
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