I grew up in a country whose soil and climate allows for a wealth of fruit and vegetables to prosper. As a result, my diet has always been primarily plant based.
Our supplies would mainly come from the local weekly market. Still today, markets are those crowded places where you will push and get pushed, but also find the best fresh ingredients for your everyday cooking. Store-bought vegetables are a bit sad in comparison.
This weekly provisioning exercise requires weight-lifting – that is where carts come in handy. That is also where traffic jams start. Also, wearing closed shoes are a good idea when going to the market, unless you want to have your toes overrun by a wheeled hasard loaded with 3 kg tomatoes, 2 kg spinach, 2 cucumbers, an 8 kg watermelon, 12 peppers, and a big bag of squash and eggplants.
Because, dear friends, unlike the connotations of souvlaki, gyros and mousaka, all meat-based dishes, Greek cuisine is all about the vegetables and legumes. Not even the Greeks may realise it, but a typical hellenic family, consumes a whole lot of purely vegetarian dishes, typically accompanied by feta cheese and salad: spinach, leek or cabbage risotto, green pea/bean stews, lentil, chickpea or bean soup are good examples. Hence the heavy loads.
Of course, there are the convinced carnivores that cannot imagine a meal without meat, but most families have red meat, fish and poultry, at the most once a week, respectively.
As a grown up, I have come to appreciate this small culinary paradise even more. Fresh ingredients and simple combinations create full-bodied taste results.
I believe that access to such food is a great blessing and I become almost tearful when I think of the bright green flesh of a Cretan avocado, the heavenly smell of a ripe fig and the crisp juiciness of cold water-melon. Not to talk about olive oil and honey, the colour of emerald and ambre ….
So I decided to launch a Greek week on chickonapea where I will be sharing some favourite recipes and vegetarian variations of signature dishes.
Welcome to my own little Greek taverna by the sea….