About the Greek Salad
Greek Salad deconstructed. Ever wondered why food tastes better in other countries?
The Greek Salad is one example.
The Greek salad has been around for a long time. Today, we see many variations in Australia and all over the world. In fact, the Greeks themselves argue over what should and shouldn’t be included in the ingredients list.
The last time I thoroughly enjoyed a Greek Salad was in August of this year. I was on the island of Crete in Greece. I remember the precise moment because I enjoyed it so much. Good food remains in our memory because it evokes such a strong feeling of satisfaction.
It was a hot day and I could feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I was at my aunt’s house surrounded by family. I was sitting on the table on the verandah which overlooked the beach on the one side and the mountains on the other.
When I walked into her home the first thing I noticed was an array of different sized tomatoes on her kitchen bench. Naturally, I picked some up to touch them, to bring them up to my nose so I could smell them.
I wanted to see if they had a fragrance. Of course they did!
I have consumed many Greek salads in my time. However, I have also struggled to understand why the Greek salad tastes so much better when eaten in Greece. Is it the quality of the produce itself, or is it the environmental conditions in which it is served?
Food for the Greeks is not just about the food itself. The food experience for them begins with the soil. Growing produce at home happens organically. Seeds are collected from the previous tomato harvest, dried out and replanted the following year. The garden is an activity that the whole family willingly and lovingly participates in. Whether it is in the process of planting, harvesting or preparing the produce.
So this brings us to the first point; quality of ingredients.
Here are the top tips to perfecting the ingredients element of the Greek Salad and the taste component of our sensory experience.
Recipe for the best Greek Salad you will ever eat!
- Greek food is about simple, fresh and seasonal ingredients.
- Tomato, cucumber and green capsicum must be selected when they are in the peak of the season. Or better yet from your own garden or a Mediterranean neighbours garden, making them super fresh, fragrant and ripe.
- Olive oil needs be the highest quality you can get your hands on. And it must be Extra Virgin which ensures it has come from the first cold pressed extraction of the olive. Salt must be freshly ground and added to the olive oil directly to really elevate the oil. This will be used to dress the salad. Add a sprinkle of salt to the tomato and cucumber as well.
- Oregano must be picked straight off the stem (this can be purchased from a deli). Crush it slightly between your fingers to release an intense aroma and notice how different it smells to regular prepackaged loose oregano.
- Purchase the Greek feta and the Greek olives from a deli and be sure to sprinkle the feta with oregano and olive oil.
- Roughly chop up the fresh ingredients, dress it to your liking and place it in a container.
Now to the second point; the environment.
In order for you to experience an awakening of your senses, ideally, this salad must be prepared on a warm day. And even better if you are planning to be outdoors surrounded with people whose company you enjoy.
After preparing your salad, gather your tribe, pick your spot in nature. Then layout your picnic rug, and turn on the sounds of Mikis Theodorakis, ‘Zorbas’ on your playlist. While listening to the music of Greece, remove the lid from your container. Next feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on your skin, connect with your loved one over a glass of wine, breathe in the fresh air surrounding you. You will now notice that you have created the perfect ambience to be present in the moment.
Why does the Greek salad taste better in Greece? What is this secret ingredient we use to elevate the sensory experience?
The secret ingredient is love.
It all starts with love.
Love for the cultivation of produce. And for the preparation of food using simple good quality ingredients but also a love for sharing and connecting with others, nature and oneself.
For more tomato-based recipes, click here.
Interested to find out how to grow your own tomatoes?