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Greece: The Cookbook

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Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the potatoes to the pot and boil for about 12 minutes until they are soft. Drain and place in a serving bowl. Greek cookbooks are layered with simple and hearty traditional dishes with a focus on quality ingredients. It’s no wonder this cookbook was chosen as the year’s best cookbook by the New York Times, the year it was released. Although this book’s title seems to indicate that this is the end-all, the definitive and comprehensive Greek cookbook still awaits its author/researcher. That fact does not detract at all from this magnificent book which should be in your library whether you’re an aficionado of Greek cuisine or not. This recipe is inspired by Cato's recipe but uses honey to make it sweet. You can make a savoury version without the honey by using a salted cheese, such as feta.

Cut the potatoes into large (5cm) chunks. I like to leave the skins on, but remove them if you prefer. This cookbook includes recipes from the entire Mediterranean region including Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Be that as it may, the reader can jump right into the chapter on Regions which is a fine overview although perfunctory. If one criticism can be made—and it can be made against nearly all Greek food writers except one, and it is understandable—there is a diminution of the important influence of the Ottoman Turks, who occupied Greece for 500 years, on contemporary Greek cooking. Greek food writers will start their histories of Greek food with the ancient Greeks, properly enough, and then gloss over the 800 years of Venetian, Catalan, Arab, and Ottoman Turk influence during the Middle Ages. To her credit Alexiadou is not as guilty of this omission as others have been, and one should remember the book’s subtitle: The Cookbook.As you read about Greek food in Ikaria, you will see every dish described and every person featured. The recipes speak of Ikarian culture in a really lovely way.

See more The Kitchen Shelf: Take a few pantry essentials, add two ingredients and make everyday eating extraordinary tsp dried or chopped fresh rue (you can use a bitter herb or spice such as fenugreek seed as a substitute)

Transnational Issues

This is a popular recipe among Greek and Roman writers. Oribasius (4th century AD), a well-known doctor of the late Roman Empire, borrowed it from a much older book of dietary advice by Mnesitheus, a medical writer from Athens who lived in the 4th century BC.

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