Friday, 9 March 2012

Greek Salad (or Greek Tragedy)

As it is March, thoughts turn to “Beware the ides of.”  The word ides comes from the Latin word "Idus" and means "half division" especially in relation to a month. Used widely in the Roman calendar it indicates the approximate day that is the middle of the month – i.e. 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months. The ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars.

Julius Caesar didn’t particularly enjoy the ides of March:

Caesar:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer:
Beware the ides of March.

Caesar:
What man is that?

Brutus:
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.


A tragedy foretold if ever there was. 

Greek tragedies were performed in late March/early April at festivals in honor of Dionysus (the god of fertility and wine). There would be a contest between three playwrights, who each presented their works on successive days. They would prepare a trilogy of tragedies, plus an unrelated concluding comic piece called a satyr play. Often, the three plays featured linked stories, but later writers like Euripides may have presented three unrelated plays. Only one complete trilogy has survived, the Oresteia of Aeschylus. The Greek theatre was in the open air, on the side of a hill, and performances of a trilogy and satyr play probably lasted most of the day. Performances were apparently open to all citizens, including women!

However, many enjoy Greek salads over a Greek tragedy and the best place to experience one of these is definitely in a taverna, close by the sea on a Greek island of your choice. 


If you can’t go to Greece – Cyprus do a good one, but if you are Blighy bound, then it’s best to go to a Greek restaurant.

In Greek: χωριάτικη σαλάτα   Pronounced:  haw-ree-AH-tee-kee sah-LAH-tah

The basic ingredients for χωριάτικη σαλάτα are easily obtainable.  You’ll need some
ripe tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, Greek feta cheese, Greek olives (Kalamata, green Cretan olives, etc.), top quality extra virgin olive oil, and Greek oregano (rigani).  You can also add green pepper (never red), capers, and salt according to taste.  If you would like to see an authentic Greek recipe for this, just click here  Sometimes cos lettuce is put in, but personally I don’t think leaves really belong in there. 

Nigel Slater does an amazing Greek Salad with a good tip on how to make the onion less oniony.  Click here to see it - now that's what I call a Greek Salad!



Why not try some Halloumi Bread with said salad? - Master Baker Paul Hollywood has a fantastic recipe for this, and it can be found here

Summer’s coming – enjoy a Greek salad with a nice glass of wine, maybe a Pinot Grigio (perhaps not Retsina unless you are in Greece) under the dappled shade of a leafy tree and a copy of Oedipus The King to swat away the wasps.

Enjoy

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