THE FOOD OF GREECE by Vilma Liacouras Chantiles
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This is not just a collection of recipes, but an ode to the Greek concept of food as an expression of the ""good"" and a veritable treatise on its uses in Hellenic culture. The essential character and national variety of the most central foods -- the olive, the fig, goat cheeses, the egg -- are lavishly celebrated, and Chantiles' appreciation encompasses both contemporary folk wisdom (when preparing avgolemono, Greek cooks ""make a kissing sound, a magical trick to keep the egg from curdling"") and the advice of such classical cooks and nutritionists as Antiphanes and Hippocrates. (Nor are the Greek words themselves passed over; Chantiles lists twelve distinct linguistic gradations of drunkenness.) The recipes reflect a similar breadth of taste and respect for the food's integrity; they range from the predictably encyclopedic treatment of lamb and eggplant to more adventurous seafood specialties (octopus and fennel in wine, braised snails. . .), a wide selection of fila pastries and pies, festive breads, and several varieties of koulourakia, the hand-rolled biscuits of the Greek provinces. This is definitely an essential cookbook for the gourmet who feasts on social ambience and cultural history as much as on the final dish. The directions are authentic enough to call for an occasional zucchini blossom and enough fresh herbs to make one consider planting a private garden, but the emphasis on healthful ingredients and quality spices, and the relative lack of complicated sauces, makes The Food of Greece less formidable than many comparable ethnic cuisines.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Atheneum