In Australia, where my wife comes from and where I grew up, the sight of big Greek picnics in the local reserve was something that was always present. There would be the grandparents in there picnic seats ordering everyone about, and there was mum and the aunts doing the hard work of laying out the food while eavesdropping into the conversation the men would have about the old days. There was the great aunts in black and lots of kids running around having a great time exploring the park or playing ball games. Most of all, though, it was the food, lots of different, exotic smelling dishes that stood out; a far cry from a steak and coleslaw that was the norm in those days. I guess it was the social cohesion between a Greek family that was very different to a typical Australian family, with their two kids, but rarely seen with any grandparents.
It was at one of these noisy, family picnics that I had my first taste of real Greek food. I wasn't very adventurous when I was young, but there was the omnipresent lamb that won me over. I still recollect the melt in the mouth tenderness, with the herbs and tomatoes making the whole thing an epiphany for me, well in the food sense at least.
Ok, I digress while I was remembering with fondness the great Greek food that you find in Australia. So, when we were sent Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros, I grabbed the copy to make sure I got to review it. Straight away, you are presented with mouthwatering recipes, some simply presented as is, while others recalling little anecdote about when or with whom Tessa had the dish.
The thing about Greek food is it is very seasonal. There are dishes that are ideal for Summer, being light and easy to prepare, and there are dishes that suit cold weather. To help you get the most out of the 120 recipes in the book, Tessa has presented them in ten sections: Traditional Foods, Fasting Foods, Easter Foods, Shared Foods, Baker's Foods, Soups, Ladera + Salad Foods, Ready-Cooked Foods, There + Then Foods and Sweet Foods.
The recipes cover all the styles that you will find in Greece, from Seafood to Meat, from breads and vegetables. There are recipes to suit every occasion, and are presented in a manner that allows a Greek cooking novice to make them with ease. I have found the recipe that I had all those years ago, which is Arni Yuvetsi, or Baked Lamb with Rice Shaped Pasta. Needless to say, it is one of the dishes that I will be trying from the book.
Beyond the recipes and the banter, the book, itself, is beautifully presented. There are great photos that bring the Greek people and their country into your home. It is a lovely book to peruse, and won't be out of place in your cookery book collection.