Since my mother was Italian and my father was Greek, most of the food we ate was Italian.I would get the Greek food when we would visit the Greek Side. My Grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins would set feasts of unusual foods before us each Greek Easter, during the Greek celebration of Christmas, the Epiphany, or on summer visits.On those days or at a big Greek wedding, the aromas and flavors would burst forward from an unusual array of appetizers, main courses and deserts.Wow!
Since I had this good fortune, I couldnt help but want to share a few of these great tastes with you.Believe me; you wont be hungry after this meal.Leftovers and doggie bags are okay.Good luck and stock up on the garlic!
When you visit a Greek diner there are so many meat dishes on the menu that most xenos (non-Greeks) believe that meat is the Greek staple.Not so fast.Greece and its islands have thousands of miles of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea where fish is the staple.Tonights dinner has a nice, light entree for our main course from those coastal regions with a twist.We will use salmon, a hearty cold water fish.If you are in Greece you would more likely find this dish served with sword fish, tuna, bream, sea bass or porgy.If you would like, any of these could be substituted for the salmon.
I am recommending ouzo with this meal for more authenticity as both an aperitif and as an after dinner drink.WARNING!If you dont like licorice, you will not like ouzo.Barring that oddity, you can drink ouzo straight up in shots or as a mixed drink.Try it over cracked ice; try it mixed with water or club soda (it turns milky white); or mix it with vodka and orange juice for a new twist on the screwdriver.If you become really interested in ouzo, there are dozens if not hundreds of bar recipes on the internet.The key to drinking ouzo is to eat snacks known as mezedes. These keep the effects of the alcohol from overwhelming you and enable you to sit and drink slowly for hours in a profoundly calm state of mind where all is beautiful and life is fine. In the villages of Greece where life is slow people can be found in the tavernas drinking ouzo day or night.Sunday afternoons after church the tavernas fill up with lively voices and singing.Sometimes the village priest even shows up to sing (and drink).Men do much of the cooking and serving in the tavernas, but when it is done by a woman, she typically acts as a den mother to the old men who come around each day. She knows their likes and dislikes, favorite seats and personal history.
You can get close to this feeling of taverna right in your own home by sharing this meal and its preparation with friends you know a lot about.For fun, throw in a few people you dont know that well.After a few ouzos, who cares?You will come to know them all as close friends.