Okay, so tonight we had our final Greek dinner and it was quite the party! We all got dressed in our “official” Greek togas and sat down to the fabulous festivities.
Yesterday, the kids made these super easy Olive Leaf Crowns, using a long strip of green paper and glued on leaves. (We had hoped to do a toga race, but only had time to make the crowns.) Tonight, the kids wore their crowns along with their togas and there was excitement in the air.
For our menu, I consulted an old friend who is Greek and whose mother makes the best baklava I think I’ve ever had. It was a tradition for our family to receive a HUGE plate of this baklava every year and we gladly accepted this generous indulgence. And while I didn’t make baklava tonight (saving that for Turkey week), I knew exactly who to consult with when it came to delicious traditional Greek food.
Basically in Greece they begin with a first course, called a Meze. This typically includes hot bread (pita for us) olives, feta… I found a meze plate recipe from my favorite recipe website that included a cucumber salad with a feta/yogurt sauce, humus (that I actually made from dried chick peas all by myself) a tomato-shrimp salad with olives (minus the shrimp for us) and artichoke hearts. All the salads/sauces were arranged on a platter and placed in the center of the table for all to partake together. I even used a special tablecloth I purchased in Greece years ago when I was young and fun and traveled the world more frequently.
Next comes a traditional avgolemono, and, as its name implies, it’s a soup with lots of “lemon”, rice, chicken broth, and a bit of dill and scallions. Actually, it appears lemon is a staple ingredient in Greek cooking, which is nice as we do have a lemon tree, although ours produces massive amounts of lemons for about a month and then nothing for the rest of the year. At least we do quite enjoy lemons.
I actually may have put just a tad too much lemon into the soup, but the great thing about the entire meal was that everything mixed so nicely together. I added a bit of the cucumber salad to the soup, dipped some pita into it, and just let my palate enjoy the succulent combination of flavors. The kids also did super well, as they usually do, trying new foods, even foods they don’t normally eat-tomatoes. Tallinn told me I’m the best maker of different country foods tonight and I think that made all the effort worth it. When I served the final course, Chicken with, you guessed it, lemon, Tallinn looked at me and said “Mom, they have the same food as us, how did you get this?”-in complete disbelief. We explained to him how our climate is very similar to Greece and many foods are the same, but I was cracking up inside at how his mind was trying to figure out how our chicken tastes the same as Greek chicken. These are things a mother cherishes.
Tonight’s chicken was definitely enjoyed by all, and also tasted great mixed in with the soup. I adapted a recipe from epicurious for a Greek Mahi-mahi, using a feta/mayonnaise sauce with lemons and dill. Next time I think I would add even more lemon and garlic as my sweet Greek friend, Christy, suggested.
Lastly, we come to dessert, our family’s moment of the night, or just something we all enjoy very much.
Another hit from the site that rarely lets me down for recipes (see links).
And now, it’s late and we have wrapped up our adventures in Greece. I did have high hopes of converting some paper towel rolls into a Parthenon, and maybe will get to that someday, but at least we had fun and learned some new things and did not fail to take advantage of the chance to boldly wear a toga in pride.
Thank you, Greece for your rich culture, your theater, your delicious cuisine, but mostly I just thank you for my amazing husband. For without your nation he would not be and I would not have met and married such a wonderful man.
Antio Greece, it’s been super fun!