Flavours of Greece
I wrote Flavours of Greece to celebrate Greek food – the people who find or produce it, the cooks who work their magic on it, and its place at the heart of Greek life. Greek tables are welcoming, noisy and colourful places, laden with gloriously aromatic dishes that are made to share. This book is a product of my curiosity and of years of pleasurable work, research and travels. It was first published twenty-one years ago by William Morrow (New York) and has never been out of print.
I hope you enjoy preparing the recipes in Flavours of Greece. I hope too that they evoke the wonderful spirit of friendliness that has engulfed me, and warms any visitor, in Greece; that they will revive happy memories for those who have already travelled to Greece or to her islands, and in Greeks who now live elsewhere. If you haven't already visited this beautiful country, or had the opportunity to taste its fine foods and wines, now is the time, and you have a treat in store.
From the Introduction to
Flavours of Greece
Those who know Greece, even if only on a brief acquaintance, are aware that there is a vigorous culinary tradition in the country, with a distinct identity and character. There is a robust regional and local cuisine and an informed and lively interest in food and flavour. All these aspects are linked, in an amazing continuity of tradition, with the ancient world of over two thousand years ago.
Ancient Greece is universally accepted as the cradle of Western civilization, with its highly developed political and social system and rich intellectual and cultural life ... (the ancient Greeks) regarded cooking as both an art and a science and throughout the ancient world Greek chefs were accorded the status and reputation that French chefs now enjoy.
... What makes the style and flavour of Greek food essentially different from that of other Mediterranean countries? To discover that we need to take a brief look at the country’s history, since Greek cooking is greatly influenced by the twists and turns of its turbulent past. Until around 3500 BC the early inhabitants of Greece grilled the food they had gathered, hunted, and fished over wood fires, baked it in glowing embers, or, like their Etruscan neighbours, cooked it in clay ovens. But with the advent of what has been called the 'Greek miracle' – the budding of the sophisticated Minoan civilization on the islands of Crete and Santorini – Greek cuisine began to develop a strongly individual style...
Recipes in Flavours of Greece include
Black Olives and Lentil Salata Island Aubergines Sesame Spinach Pies
Pan-Seared Tuna and Beetroot Greens Bay-Scented Chicken with Figs
Yoghurt Lamb Souvlaki with Saffron Rice Piquant Garlic Beef
Spicy Sausages with Mustard Sauce Fava Bean Salad with Fennel and Black Olives
Wild Greens Salad Cheese Mint Bread Aromatic Rice Pudding
Honey Sesame Sweetmeats Marinated Lamb Souvlaki
Traditional Pork and Bean Casserole Baked Summer Vegetables
Macaronia with Chicken and Wild Greens The Villagers' Grilled Lamb
"Rosemary Barron is English, but you'd never know it from Flavors of Greece, a sparkling collection of recipes developed over many years of traveling in Greece and teaching its robust and vivid cuisine in the United States, England and Greece. Greek food is little known in this country, undeservedly so. The cuisine emphasizes … and is one of the foundations of the Mediterranean diet so much in the news lately. This book should do much to correct Greece's unhappy culinary image. The recipes are clearly presented and remarkably easy to execute … just two of many preparations from this book that have quickly become standards in my kitchen. This is armchair traveling at its best."
The New York Times
"This richly detailed volume is redolent with the unusual preparations of a cuisine ancient in origin but entirely modern in its palette of tastes. Thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written by Barron, who launched the Kandra Kitchen cooking school, the book will prove both intriguing and practical for modern cooks – and harried menu planners ... Just as impressive are the author’s selection of dishes “inspired”, she writes, “ by the heady perfumed fragrances that seem to float on the Greek air.” These include ... and recipes for a variety of sauces, pickles, jams, preserves, and crusty Greek breads round out this tempting and original work."
'This is the first Greek cookbook that has ever made me want to start cooking from the moment I opened it.'
"I found the lentil salad in her Flavors of Greece and it was only the first of many recipes that convinced me that she is a rare food writer whose love for this cooking has the courage to be exclusive, honing our interest with authentic dishes carefully chosen to show off its charm and verve."
John Thorne, The Outlaw Cook in Simple Cooking
"It's always sad to miss a party. One I particularly regretted not being able to attend was at Stoyanof's Restaurant in San Francisco, celebrating the publication of Rosemary Barron's Flavours of Greece. The dinner was built around recipes in the book. Skilled cooks prepared recipes such as saffron rice with mussels, sea bass in savory sauce, cinnamon lamb casserole … Barron, who may not have been totally unprejudiced since she was the honored guest, describes the dinner as magnificent. Based on her expertise on Greek cooking over the years, I'd be willing to take her word for it. A former San Francisco food writer who ran a cooking school on Crete, Barron has been professionally savoring Greek cuisine for decades. Her cooking school was popular and widely praised until political rivalries in Greece exploded in the mid-'80s, making visits there risky for outsiders. It was then she decided to write a Greek cookbook … the very happy result is Flavors of Greece ..."
Jim Wood, San Francisco Examiner
"If your love affair with Mediterranean food is just now expanding to include Greece, start your journey with Flavors of Greece … It will make you forget coffee-shop salads and discover grilled lobsters basted with honey and coriander, rice pilaf with green lentils ... The food is full-flavored, the recipes clear."
Irene Sax, New York Newsday
"Rosemary Barron's Flavors of Greece contains over 250 well thought-out and beautifully written recipes. With this excellent book, the reader will safely venture into the world of Greek cooking."
Rocky Mountain News
"There is a wonderful new cookbook which is aptly timed for when many of us have exhausted our ideas for the abundance of summer vegetables … Recently, when Barron was a guest on KCHO, 91.7FM my husband dashed out and brought home a copy of this glorious book ... there are 15 recipes for eggplant dishes alone ..."
Joan Jackson, Chico Enterprise-Record
'Every once in a while a cook book author happens along who makes a important contribution to our culinary landscape. Such is Rosemary Barron and here she presents a book you can fall in love with.'
"Reading Flavors of Greece is like taking a trip to Greece. In this beautifully written epicurean cookery and travel book you will find ..."
Los Angeles Times
Flavors of Greece
Published by William Morrow, NY 1991
on Good Morning America (ABC TV, United States)
with Charlie Gibson and three very large fish
'Practical and charmingly evocative.'
'The leading Greek cookbook – among many contenders – by a recognized authority.'
The Rough Guide to Greece & The Rough Guide to The Greek Islands
"Greek cooking is one of the world’s most underrated cuisines ... In this comprehensive book Rosemary Barron, who ran a cookery school on Crete and still regularly leads workshop-style courses on Santorini, gives recipes for more than 250 regional and national specialities ... Think informal but classy ... this well-written book shows there is life beyond moussaka."
The 50 best cook books for summer
Christopher Hirst, The Independent
"Whatever people say, the true joy of cookbooks lies not only in whether their recipes work. It also has to do with scholarship, social history, good writing and – most important of all – vicarious pleasure ... I’ve been thinking about cookbooks nonstop. The following are all very useful, but they also have an extra something that means you’re as likely to be wearing pyjamas as an apron when you read them: Rosemary Barron’s Flavours of Greece, because it will take you back to that week in Mykonos."
The Perfect Recipe? A good cookbook in bed
Rachel Cooke, The Observer
"Flavours of Greece is a book with an amazingly large and mouth-watering selection of Greek mezes ... The best thing about Rosemary Barron is her understanding and knowledge of Greek myth and its historical past."
Emma Tennant, Daily Mail
"Rosemary Barron’s Flavours of Greece, first published in 1991 and relaunched this year, is one of the best guides to Greek regional food in the English language. The recipes are foolproof and Barron weaves nuggets of history throughout. For a true taste of Greece, from Easter lamb to spice-scented Christmas bread, this is the book to reach for."
Best Books of 2010
"With Barron's delightful introduction to each recipe, providing some historical perspective and context to the ingredients used, Flavours of Greece is a joy to read. It is also probably the most comprehensive recipe book regarding Greek cookery on the market today."
Caterer and Hotelkeeper
"My first thought, when I picked up Flavours of Greece, was how can a book on Greek cookery be so fat? ... Having read it, I now know what accounts for its girth. Rosemary Barron has written a fascinating Introduction about Greek life, the Greek kitchen, about lemons, nuts, capers, kitchen tools an the intrinsic significance of shared food, whether within the family or on festive occasions among friends … This book is definitely one to be kept in the kitchen than left lying among the glossies ... Flavours of Greece is doomed to be spattered, the well-thumbed pages carrying the scars of past meals."
Mirabel Osler, Convivium
"Thousands of cookery books are published every year, but very few stand the test of time. However, Rosemary Barron’s Flavours of Greece, which has recently been republished by Grub Street Press as a stylish hardback, is one such book which has now become accepted as a classic. Rosemary Barron's Flavours of Greece runs to 370 pages. The temptation is to ask how? There is, of course, more to Greek food culture than feta salads and klephticos of holiday memory. Her engaging study starts with mezedes and closes with sauces ranging from avgolemono to scorched tomato. In between recipes for dishes like spinach pie, baked sole in vine leaves, bay-scented chicken with figs and Cretan pork, she reinforces her case that the beauty of Greek food is its honesty and its healthy indifference to trends."
Robert Cockcroft, Yorkshire Post
Rowley Leigh, Sunday Telegraph
"A great gift for the serious cook."
The Daily Express
"Never out of print, this superb publication is proving as popular now as it was when it first appeared in 1991."
"Flavours of Greece is an exceptional cookery book, beautifully written and full of delightful recipes. A short review cannot do it justice. Go buy it."
"The true test of cookery books is whether the instructions are adequate to produce the food even if you've never made it before. This book easily passes that test."
The Sunday Times
"If you like a cuisine based on olives, olive oil, herbs and spices, grilled and spit-roasted meats, yoghurts and honey, you'll devour these recipes."
Derek Cooper, Saga magazine
Meze: Small Bites, Big Flavors from the Greek Table
There's nothing new in our current love of 'small dishes'. Offering guests refreshment – savoury, sweet, with or without alcohol – has always been a way of life throughout the hot and arid lands of the eastern Mediterranean. The reason for this is a practical one: no one knew, or knows, when they, too, might be a traveller in need of refreshment or sustenance.
It took the thinkers of Greek classicism – the philosophers, mathematicians, doctors, dramatists, poets – to turn this simple and generous human behaviour into something more: the Greek meze table is a place of vivid colours, enticing aromas, delightfully contrasting shapes and textures, and plenty of chatter. For those curious intellectuals thought about food and wine, too, and the effect they had on body, mind and social well-being. Over the centuries, new foods and tastes have been introduced into the Greek meze repertoire, but the fundamental purpose of the meze table has never changed – it's a place to relish each other's company, and life itself.
From the Introduction to
Meze: Small Bites, Big Flavors from the Greek Table
Mezes are one of the most enjoyable and companionable aspects of Greek life, served everywhere from the humblest beachfront café to the most elegant city hotel. An approximate translation of the word is “appetizers”, a wholly inadequate term to express the variety, vitality, and sensual pleasure of the meze table, or its integral place in the national culture.
Mezes are the embodiment of living, continuing tradition; in them, modern Greeks experience and savor the flavors, textures, and ingredients that excited and intrigued their forebears in the ancient classical world. My own interest in the Greek food past began when I took part in archaeological digs on Crete in the 1960s. I can still remember being amazed that I was eating, quite naturally, and in the same manner, foods that we were uncovering evidence of thousands of years earlier: wild greens, grains, fish, game, wines, olives, and olive oil.
The origins of the meze table lie in that long-ago past and began as common sense. The ancients discovered, no doubt through bitter experience, that drinking on an empty stomach was bad news and that alcohol’s less-pleasing effects could be avoided or reduced by the simple expedient of eating morsels of food while drinking. Gradually, this practical custom was elevated to the status of a social ritual, making it culturally unacceptable to drink without eating, and the snacks-with-drinks habit developed into a new way of eating. Today, the tradition and culture of the meze table is woven into the fabric of Greek life; what began as a precaution is now a framework for social interaction and the unhurried enjoyment of fresh, seasonal, and intensely flavored food ...
Recipes in Meze: Small Bites, Big Flavors from the Greek Table include
Fish Under a Blanket Tiny Tomatoes with Green Olive Sauce Rosy Lamb
Mustard Asparagus and New Potatoes Watercress with Piquant Currant Sauce
Plaka Summer Salad Savory Honey-Pear Pies
Cinnamon Cheese Pies Lemon-Laced Zucchini with Zucchini Greens
Leaf-Wrapped Kephtedes with Yogurt Sauce Sweet & Sour Shallots
'Keep an eye out for Meze, Rosemary Barron’s new book, which gives a great selection of the small plates served in Greece.'
The Independent on Sunday
Meze: Small Bites, Big Flavors from the Greek Table
Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco 2002
"From the author of the most definitive book on Greek Cooking, Flavours of Greece. The Greek shelf is always busy during the spring and summer as the Brits get back from their holidays hankering after a taste of the islands, so this is a welcome addition to the section. There's a few UK published meze books out there but none of them has such an authoritative author nor is as well packaged (in true Chronicle tradition) as this one."
Rosie Kindersley, Books for Cooks, in The Bookseller
"Until I made some of the recipes in Meze, I had never really understood the attraction of making small dishes for friends. But I do now. Colorful and welcoming, and mostly made ahead, a table of mezes needs no further adornment and, best of all, I too can relax and enjoy them."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Rosemary Barron has taught Greek cooking classes for more than 25 years in Greece and around the world. Flavors of Greece is her classic book. In her new book, Meze: Small Bites, Big Flavors she offers 60 of her most appetizing recipes along with a thorough examination of the meze culture. Beyond avid Grecophiles, for example, who knew there's an entire subset called mezedakia (“little tidbits”) that are served with drinks? These can be very simple, but one more ambitious example is sort of a cocktail-hour granola mixture that incorporates almonds, figs, currants, pistachio nuts, sesame seeds and several other ingredients."