My love of Greek food has been with me for a long time. Nearly 5 years ago I had the remarkably good fortune to share an apartment with my dear friend and Greek goddess of the kitchen, Morgan. Having always favored Greek eateries, I really fell in love with Greek food while living with Morgan.
Morgan is a good cook, but what I loved most about eating Greek was the passion and love she and her family put into their food. Morgan’s family uses food as a way to connect with their culture and each other. Their meals are long, relaxing, and meticulously prepared. If you are longing for a full belly and a few good hugs, go have dinner with a Greek family!
My fondness of Greek cuisine made Greece a natural choice for my “Cooking Less American” project. Lemon & Olives, a Greek cooking blog, was my go-to resource for all things Greek food.
Lemon and Olives is the brainchild of Kenton and Jane. An adorable, newly engaged couple that documents their exploration of Greek cooking by blogging and sharing recipes with their growing online audience.
Kenton was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on Greek cooking with us and his easy and delicious recipe for Feta Stuffed Chicken.
Kenton, from ‘Lemon and Olives,’ talks about Greek Cooking
How, if at all, do Greeks and Americans approach food differently?
Overall, I think the entire concept of food is viewed differently. Here in America, we take quick lunches, eat in front of the TV, and opt to go out and not cook. However, there is a growing trend to start eating healthy, which is good.
In Greece, lunch or dinner is an event. It’s a time to sit and talk. Enjoy fresh food and company. It’s not uncommon for it to last a few hours. Granted a busy American lifestyle can’t get away with taking 2 hour lunches, but give it a try on the weekends, or enjoy a nice family dinner with no TV.
In the way they cook and dine, what are the biggest differences?
For cooking in Greece, you’d head down to your local fishmonger and get the day’s catch. Unlike here where it is presented nicely. In Greece you’d be dealing with whole octopus, fish, etc. We Americans like this presented to us nicely, but in other parts of the world, you’ve got to get your hands dirty and clean out most of the fish, trim the fat from red meat, etc.
Also, Greeks tend to cook what is in season, this is even more true as you get outside the major cities and into the villages. If you like something that isn’t in season, you may actually have a hard time finding it. Seasonal local fresh produce has been the norm in Greek villages for thousands of years.
In terms of dining, like I mentioned above, it’s an event. You can be sitting at a Greek’s table for hours. Prepare yourself
You obviously have a passion for Greek food. What inspires you the most about this cuisine?
For me, it’s the connection I get to my heritage. I was born in the USA, but my Greek family made me feel like I was Greek first. Now that I’m older the people that inspired me most to cook, like my grandparents, are no longer alive, so in a way I’m carrying on the traditions. I enjoy cooking recipes that have been in my family for hundreds of years or cooking dishes that haven’t changed much since Plato and Aristotle dinned.
Jane loves the fact that Greek Mediterranean food is so healthy; focusing on healthy fats like olive oil, and limiting the amount of red meat. She likes having a lot of dishes that are vegetarian, fresh, and simple to make. She also loves exploring the cuisine because she knows how much it means to me. It’s moved from being my thing to our thing.
If you could teach every American just one thing about Greek cooking what would it be?
Keep it fresh and simple. There are a plethora of Greek dishes that only have a handful of ingredients in them. When cooking, don’t overload it with herbs and spices. Following a Greek diet can lead to so many health benefits. And please, put the butter or margarine down and pick up some olive oil when cooking. Also, ditch salad dressing and go for olive oil and lemon instead.
What is your favorite Greek dish?
This is a question we’re asked often. For me, it changes, but today I would have to say dolmathes.
Jane loves pistitsio and a traditional Greek salad (the one with no lettuce).
If you like feta (who doesn’t?), you’ll LOVE this chicken recipe. It’s simple to make, very tasty and, of course, nutritious. I made it when we had house guests and it was a big hit!
Feta Stuffed Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts, about 1.5 pounds
- ⅓ cup feta, crumbled
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- ½ lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil
Click here to get cooking instructions from Lemon and Olives.
During my month long exploration of Greek cooking, Colin and I enjoyed many great dishes. Below are some of our favorites.
Are you ready to start cooking Greek?
I highly recommend you download a free copy of Jane and Kenton’s e-cookbook Top 10 Greek Recipes under 500 Calories.
Does your family use food to connect with their heritage?
Tell me about it in the comments section below!
I might choose your favorite cuisine for my “Cooking Less American” project!