Studying and practicing Greek cooking is a wonderful way to get closer to the culture and style of Greece. Some tips to help improve Greek culinary studies including carefully sourcing ingredients and learning how to put together a traditional meal. In order to enhance the experience, set the right atmosphere for Greek cooking and get friends or family to bring the party to the kitchen by helping prepare the meal.
Choosing the right ingredients is an essential part of understanding Greek cooking. For the most part, Greek food focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients that can be found at local markets. Buying out of season ingredients, such as fresh tomatoes in winter, is a good way to end up with a flavorless dish. Farmer's markets and food columns often post lists of which fruits and vegetables are in season every week; check these to be sure of finding ingredients at the peak of their ripeness.
In addition to choosing fresh ingredients, it is also important to have the right pantry staples on hand. Greek cuisine calls for copious amounts of olive oil, which should be cold-pressed and sourced from a reputable importer. Other important ingredients to have on hand include lemons, Greek yogurt, fresh garlic, and oregano. While not all recipes call for the use of these ingredients, having them on hand can save several mid-recipe trips to the grocery store. If possible, shop for ingredients at a Greek grocery store, or one with a strong international food section.
Choosing what recipes to make depends on the type of meal prepared. A light lunch might require a combination of simple ingredients, such as a plate of sliced feta cheese, olives, tomatoes, and fried potatoes, rather than a fully cooked meal. Most simple dinners consist of a meat or eggplant-based casserole served with a few fresh or cooked vegetables. For a party, few concepts work better than a wide selection of Greek appetizers.
Greek cooking and culture puts a strong emphasis on the inclusion of fun and companionship in the kitchen. Set the mood for Greek cooking by putting on a compilation of spirited Greek music, or open a bottle of traditional anise liqueur to sip while cooking. Get children involved in the cooking by asking them to help with simple tasks, such as measuring ingredients or arranging appetizers on plates. Instead of inviting friends for dinner, ask them to come in the early afternoon to help prepare dinner so the party can start even earlier. A shared enjoyment for Greek cooking can be a wonderful way to cement friendships and keep family connections lively and fun.