Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Constantine Maroulis, we toast you in your absence

One thing about growing up in and around Canton, Ohio, is that I have almost unreasonably high expectations for Greek food. I remember the newspaper society page being filled with snapshots of Greek debutantes. I remember the annual festival at the St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church (best baklava in town).

I spent three weeks on the Peloponnese during a college interim term. I didn't know what to expect from the cuisine in the "old country" and was struck by the freshness of everything, and by the ever-present citrus fruits. There were oranges and tangerines served alongside every meal, and of course lemon juice in everything. The cheese, the wine, the bread--all so flavorful and hearty. The friendly and generous people who shared their meals with us.

All this week I've been dreaming of Greek food. I don't have a good Greek cookbook*, so I did a little googling and came up with these two recipes. They looked good, so I tried them both (with lettuce, onions, yogurt sauce, and a side of spinach).

We thought both recipes were great. I was also surprised by how easy they both were. I followed the instructions exactly except I made the keftedes out of lamb instead of beef (cook's prerogative), and only made a half-recipe. Also, I found that I needed to bake the pitas at 375 instead of 350 to get them to puff up.

Now if I just had some ouzo to sip on the front porch...


* No, I don't know how this has happened--can anyone suggest one they especially like?