Zeus is the greatest god of Olympus, the god of thunder and the protector of the family. He appeared in mythology not only as an image associated with the Olympic Games, but also as a god who had many wives and mistresses. Zeus was revered in ancient Greece, and his cult is revived among the modern inhabitants of Crete – the island where, according to myths, the god of lightning and thunder was born. Lovers of ancient culture are interested in everything related to Zeus, including dishes associated with the gods.
Food of the gods
Greek cuisine is based on vegetables, fish and meat. Cooking is unthinkable without olive oil. Greece is a country where olive trees have been growing since prehistoric times, their fruits are certainly added to salads and appetizers.
Greeks live on the coast of four seas – the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Cretan, and the Ionian. This explains the many simple but delicious seafood dishes in the national cuisine. In the time of the gods, fish was considered the destiny of the poor. The revered Greeks ate the meat of domestic animals – goats, and sheep. Animals could be sacrificed to the gods during a mass sacrifice, a hecatomb, by burning the bones and fat. The meat went to those who arranged the sacrifice. Among game, hares and deer were popular, and birds such as larks and sparrows. The ancient Greek people ate poultry such as chickens, geese, and ducks.
And yet the basis of ancient Greek cuisine was cereals – barley and wheat. The flour was used to bake simple cakes, which were topped with wine diluted with water. And the stiffer the flatbread was, the healthier it was considered for the body.
The wine was a cult drink of the ancient Greek people. They drank a lot of it but with a low alcohol content. The god Bacchus patronized wine-making and was worshipped in Greece no less than the other gods.
Cheeses in traditional Greek cuisine
Cheeses are considered the pride of the country; Greeks make them themselves mainly from sheep and goat milk. A popular type is feta. Manouri, graviera, and halloumi are often used in dishes. Cheeses are added to appetizers, used as a filling for traditional pies, they are sprinkled on baked fish.
Recipe for spanakopita, one of the popular Greek pies
- 500 g each of filo dough and spinach;
- 250 g feta or feta cheese;
- 1 bun each of dill, spring onion, and parsley;
- 100 g olive oil;
- Taste and season with salt and pepper.
You can make your own phyllo dough or buy ready-made at the store. It is a thin stretched dough, resembling puff pastry, but more delicate. To make 500 g of phyllo dough you will need:
- 375 g flour;
- 50 ml olive oil;
- ⅔ tbsp. salt;
- 1 tbsp. vinegar;
- 170 g of warm water
To make the filling, start by washing and chopping the spinach. Then, in a saucepan, saute the green onion in olive oil before adding the spinach, greens, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the feta cheese and stirring until well combined.
To make the dough, sift the flour into a bowl and create a well in the center. Slowly pour in a mixture of warm water, vinegar, olive oil, and salt while kneading the dough for at least 20 minutes. If the dough stops sticking to your hands, place it on a table and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Cover with clingfilm and let rest for 30 minutes.
Next, divide the dough into 6 portions and roll each portion into a thin sheet no thicker than 1 mm. To assemble the cake, place the first sheet on the bottom of a baking tray greased with olive oil. Oil the sheet and cover it with the second sheet, and then the third sheet, which has been previously sprinkled with olive oil. On top of the third sheet, add the filling, and cover it with three more sheets of dough, each one brushed with oil. Make incisions on top of the pie before baking in a preheated oven at 190 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
Moussaka is a classic Greek dish that comes in many variations. The traditional recipe includes eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, minced meat, béchamel sauce, and parmesan cheese.
To prepare, simply slice the eggplant and potatoes into thin pieces, and layer them in a baking dish. Pour the béchamel sauce over the vegetables.
Next, fry some onions until they are golden and add minced meat. Layer this on top of the vegetables, followed by diced tomatoes. Pour the béchamel sauce over everything and top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for half an hour.
Dolmades, on the other hand, are made from rice, minced meat, and grape leaves. They are similar to Slavic stuffed cabbage rolls, but grape leaves are used instead.
To prepare the stuffing, mix boiled rice (100g for 0.5 kg of minced meat) with minced meat, fried onions, and a variety of herbs such as dill, parsley, basil, mint, and oregano (150g). Wrap the stuffing in pre-cooked grape leaves and place them in a saucepan with broth. Cook for about an hour.
While the dolmades are cooking, prepare the sauce by mixing unsweetened yogurt with finely chopped herbs and minced garlic.