Soul Kitchen Blog is currently having an extended holiday in the Greek islands – living a dream in an idyllic fishing village and enjoying every minute of Greek summer blue skies and turquoise water. Picture postcard perfect, it is not just spectacular scenery that makes any trip to Greece so special – it is also the experience of the generous Greek hospitality, which includes (of course) the incredible food.
What has stuck me most about the fantastic food we are eating here, is how fresh it is and how simple the cooking is. With only a light seasoning, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice – the produce shines.
I contemplate how a Greek salad made by me in Greece, tastes so much better than a Greek salad made by me in Sydney. Even though my method and ingredients are the same, the difference is significant and can only come down to one thing – the quality and freshness of the produce.
It doesn’t matter how much I pay for tomatoes (for example) in Sydney, I reckon they just taste average. Here they are fleshy and red, bursting with full tomato flavour.
Is it the soil? is it the climate? is because it is seasonal produce ripened on the plant? I’d hazard a guess and say it is most likely a combination of the three, but if you have ever grown stuff in your own backyard you will know that enabling something to fully ripen on the plant before picking definitely has flavour benefits.
Additionally, we probably don’t need to be nutritionists to work out something that is grown and picked just before eating is going to have a better nutritional value than something grown hundreds of kilometres away, picked and transported before finally arriving to wholesalers, then our shops and eventually our plate.
In Greece – outside of the big cities, you grow what you can and you swap produce with your family or neighbour, or buy from local producers, eating only fruit and vegetables that are in season.
In Kos (where I am writing this from) we have been buying our fruit and vegies from roadside stalls, but at a pinch we have bought from the main supermarket that supplies the village but they also buy produce from local farmers where they can.
Every time we visit any of my partner’s family here, we come home with a bag of something wonderful. It may be the sweetest tasting organic melons (rock, honeydew or watermelon), vine ripened juicy red tomatoes, incredibly jammy figs picked straight from the tree or gorgeous free range eggs. We were especially lucky to be given homemade goat cheese made by partner’s Aunty, wow.
Even more impressively … I’ve asked many people here in Kos what brand of olive oil they buy and they laugh. They don’t buy olive oil, they get their oil from the harvest of the family olive grove! Every year there is a new batch. I don’t need to tell you how amazing the olive oil is here, you can probably guess …