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Monday, July 16, 2007


Greek food: you realise there is something to it when you see how fit these chaps and chapnis are, compared to the rest of us Indians.
Even the local Indians look fit and trim.
Medically speaking, there is a bulk
provided by complex carbs (like the mandatory salad and whole grain breads), proteins (as in meats and fish), and fats (in the olive oil, desserts and cheeses).
As the meal is leisurely and proceeds in stages, from the mezes (starters, usually with the wine or the local ouzo), the salads (with Feta cheese) and by the time you wait for the main course (all the while chomping hard bread soaked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar), you are no longer able to wolf down obscene amounts of meat and rice.
In the pictures on the left, you see a typical Greek salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, lettuce and feta cheese on top), and the second picture below that is the delicious Santorini salad (small, lobulated Santorini tomatoes, caper leaves, and the rest is the same as the Greek).

A disappointing but highly touted starter (meze) was 'Santorini pancakes' ( in the picture), which I ordered in a nice restaurant in Fira called Archipelagos. It turned out to be a flatter cousin of our own South Indian bondas which were never a favorite of mine, unless stuffed with spicy potatoes (the Mumbai batata vada or aloo bonda).

A dessert will effectively kill your hunger for around 12 hours: not for them the lightness of sandesh and rasgullas. The baclava or the Ekmek are favorites here, and, by the time you finish it all, your stomach is ready to disown you and migrate to India. If you can see, the Ekmek has a very smooth and heavy sweet cream stuffing inside the pastry, and will take you close to the Devil himself. Many tavernas have fresh seafood on display (as seen in the picture here), and mussels, swordfish, salmon and octopus are favorites in most island menus. Oh, another new dish I tried was a pie with date stuffing (see picture). Rather surprisingly, this is called a halwa.
All in all, magnificent. Indian food, of course, is far more diverse and rich, but if you talk of overall balance and nutrition, Mediterranean food is way up there!


Samir Johna, MD said...

Yum, Yum! I wonder why haven't you tried the most popular dishes, such as Souvlaki and Gyros. May be because you do not eat dead animals! I tease a friend of mine who is egetarian who tells me he will live longer, I tell him, no you got it wrong! Your life is so boring it just seems longer!

B. Ramana said...

Not a vegetarian at all, though I have no problems being one. I did have gyros and souvlakis, but truth to tell, I prefer the Indian subcontinental style of kebabs and rolls (fried breads with meat stuffing rolled and wrapped with paper).

Samir Johna, MD said...

Hmmmm, I will try that next time I am in an indian restaurant here in LA. Now that I know you eat meat, may be I should share some of my other recepies such as the Iraqi Bouryani, the Pardapalow, the qoozi mahshi and what have you!

B. Ramana said...

Get going on it, champ!

Krish Ashok said...

Ah. My favourite cuisine. Especially the feta cheese. In fact, I even prefer their kebabs, as they tend to use slightly less than 2 kg of masala per 5 gm of meat like we do here in India. I got hooked to Mediterranean food in the strangest of places - San Antonio, Texas :) It happened to be near my apartment and I just had to have their tomato/basil salad with large chunks of feta cheese at least twice a week. Hmm. No good greek restaurants in Chennai though

B. Ramana said...

Tomato and basil goes with goat or Mozzarella cheese in the classic Insalata Caprese, which we have discussed here before. However, with feta cheese, this must be a Greek version, I guess.