History of Greek Food


The poem:

In these all-white courtyards where the south wind blows

Whistling through vaulted arcades, tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That leaps in the light, scattering its fruitful laughter
With windy wilfulness and whispering, tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That quivers with foliage newly born at dawn
Raising high its colors in a shiver of triumph?
On plains where the naked girls awake,
When they harvest clover with their light brown arms
Roaming round the borders of their dreams — tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree,
Unsuspecting, that puts the lights in their verdant baskets
That floods their names with the singing of birds — tell me
Is it the mad pomegranate tree that combats the cloudy skies of the world?
On the day that it adorns itself in jealousy with seven kinds of feathers,
Girding the eternal sun with a thousand blinding prisms
Tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That seizes on the run a horse’s mane of a hundred lashes,
Never sad and never grumbling — tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That cries out the new hope now dawning?
Tell me, is that the mad pomegranate tree waving in the distance,
Fluttering a handkerchief of leaves of cool flame,
A sea near birth with a thousand ships and more,
With waves that a thousand times and more set out and go
To unscented shores — tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That creaks the rigging aloft in the lucid air?
High as can be, with the blue bunch of grapes that flares and celebrates
Arrogant, full of danger — tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That shatters with light the demon’s tempests in the middle of the world
That spreads far as can be the saffron ruffle of day
Richly embroidered with scattered songs — tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That hastily unfastens the silk apparel of day?
In petticoats of April the first and cicadas of the feast of mid-August
Tell me, that which plays, that which rages, that which can entice
Shaking out of threats their evil black darkness
Spilling in the sun’s embrace intoxicating birds
Tell me, that which opens its wings on the breast of things
On the breast of our deepest dreams, is that the mad pomegranate tree?
(by Odysseas Elytis. Edmund Keeley’s and Philip Sherrard’s translation)

The juice:

  • As I had juiced several pomegranates yesterday for pomegranate syrup—and still had  20 ripe fruits, I used an orange squeezer and  juiced them early in the morning and then turned the beautiful crimson liquid into a thick sweet and sour petimezi (pekmez) with incredibly rich flavor.

For the syrup  I used 4 cups of pomegranate juice, 2 cups sugar and 2 tbs lemon juice.   

For the petimezi I used 4 cups of pomegranate juice, 1 cup of sugar and 2 tbs lemon juice. After 50 minutes of  low cooking the mixture was ready and syrupy. (Do not forget to skim off the foam from the syrup.) The longer you cook it, the more concetrated it will be. 

  • Combine pomegranate juice and tsikoudia for a twist on  the popular alcoholic drink of Crete.  

The recipe:

  • Not Greek, but very intriguing; this recipe of the Liber de Coquina (14th century) has caught my eye: Romania, or chicken cooked with almond milk that uses pomegranate juice instead of water.  

De romania, suffrigantur pulli cum lardo et cepis et terantur amigdale non mondate et distemperentur cum succo granatorum acrorum et dulcium. Postea, colletur et ponatur ad bulliendum cum pullis et cum cocleari agitetur. Et ponatur species.
Potest tamen fieri brodium viride cum herbis.

About romania, chickens are fried with bacon and onion and almonds not peeled are ground and tempered with juice of sour and sweet pomegranates. Afterwards, it is strained and set down to boiling with chickens and it is stirred with a spoon. And spices are placed.

You can still make broth green with herbs. 

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