Moussaka, grilled fish, and feta salad with olives--that's it for Greek food, right? Wrong, as abundantly proved by Diane Kochilas's masterful The Glorious Foods of Greece
. For over 10 years, Kochilas investigated the vast wealth of Greek cooking, traveling to its islands, cities, mountains, and villages and talking to cooks, bakers, fisherman, farmers, and cheese makers. She listened astutely, and the result is not only hundreds of authentic recipes, but a definitive culinary guide.
Following an introduction in which Kochilas details, among other fascinating information, the nature of each region's cuisine (Rooumali and Epirus are shepherds' domains, she writes, "where the reigning food is pita, as in savory pie, hundreds of them...."), she then offers chapter-by-chapter observations with straightforward recipes. These range from mezze (appetizers) and soups to breads, main dishes, sweets, and drinks. From the olive country of Peloponnesus, for example, readers are offered the likes of Roast Leg of Lamb with Wine, Garlic, Allspice, and Cheese. The Italian-influenced Ionian islands provide Chicken Stewed in Fragrant Tomato Sauce with Thick Pasta, among other dishes. Snd from Macedonia and Thrace come such fare as Roasted Potato Salad with Hot Pepper and Mint, and Leek and Yogurt Pie.
Throughout, Kochilas also provides interesting sidebars (The Sardines of Lesvos, for example, profiles this local treasure known for its sweetness), ingredient sketches, and preparation suggestions. A section that explores cooking techniques and a useful source list concludes the book, which is a tribute to a widely undiscovered cuisine and the author's steady yet exuberant powers of investigation. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
With this massive and masterful collection, Kochilas (an American with Greek roots who works in Athens as a food reporter for a Greek newspaper) brings Greek cooking front and center in American kitchens. Region by region (the Ionian Islands, the Cyclades, etc.), she provides over 400 appealing Mediterranean recipes. Fine seafood dishes such as the Fried Mussels of northern Greece and Spiny Lobster Cooked with Spring Onions and Herbs from Lesvos abound, as do interesting meat preparations, including the many lamb and goat dishes of Roumeli and Quinces Stuffed with Ground Lamb from the north, as well as poultry standouts like One-Pot Chicken with Broth-Simmered Noodles and Ground Walnuts (upholding the tradition of cooking noodles in broth because water was scarce). Many dishes use common ingredients in surprising ways, like an earthy Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions from Kassos and Chard-Stuffed Turkey from Nazos. Kochilas doesn't skimp on savory pies (Fresh Cheese Pie with Fennel from Kalavyrta, Pumpkin and Carrot Pie from Cephalonia), bread (Raisin-Stuffed Lazarus Bread from Lesvos), or desserts (Pancakes with Yogurt and Currants), and she presents numerous appetizing vegetable dishes. The text sections are of uniformly high quality, with indispensable pages on regional cheeses. Kochilas writes lovingly and insightfully about her adopted country, profiling the many Greeks (mostly women) who generously shared recipes with her, and displays a deep grasp of history. (Apr.) Forecast: Kochilas's eight years of research show in the book's thoroughness. A landmark for Greek cooking in the U.S., it's a likely candidate for cookbook awards and can be confidently billed as the definitive source.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.