During my recent sailing trip in Greece I – again! – was puzzled by an amazing discovery. A realization of a kind which, maybe, only a German guy living in a high industrialized world can have: The tomato. I am not talking of any random EU-measured and standardized size tomato, but I am talking of the real stuff. Somehow, that´s at least my impression, it is impossible to get tomatoes in all of Europe which remotely taste as rich as the Greek ones. A big hooray to the Greek tomato, friends, believe me – at least in Europe – there are no better tomatoes like these.
And that´s for granted: No matter where you buy them, the local grocery, a farmer´s market or a big supermarket, these are the best. Tasty. Rich in mouthwatering sweet redness, absolutely delicious and fantastic. I´d say you only need a bit of sea salt, maybe some grains of fresh black pepper, that´s it. An explosion of taste in your mouth. A pure delight when garnished with some fine slices of onion. An orgiastic experienced when wetted with pure green Greek olive oil, a scent of freshly mown grass exhaling. Oh dear Lord, why don´t we get these in Germany too? So, as a consequence, there was not a single day during my 2 week trip to Greece that I haven’t ordered my daily dose of Greek Salad. It´s a delight! I even prepared one for my dear crew whilst we were motoring the other day. And here´s the recipe for a classy, traditional, tasty full-size Greek Salad. Enjoy!
Your Shopping-list for a traditional Greek Salad
Well, of course, we need tomatoes. In Greece the estimation of how many of them you´d buy is simple: As the tomatoes here are as big as a cat´s head, you need exactly one of these big red balls per person. Prepare the salad as a side dish, choose a smaller one, if it is the main course – and it is perfect as main course, you´d choose a bigger one. Make sure you get the real Greek tomato – o compromise on taste here!
The classic Greek Salad has a simple short shopping list: Green cucumbers. Take the freshest you can, even the baby cucumbs are good. For an adult´s main course salad take half a standard sized cucumber. You also need onion. Well, here´s another thing: In Greece we ate literally dozens of raw chopped onions. Guess what? No farting. At all. Somehow the Greek farmers managed to cultivate onions which taste sweet (no sharpness or hotness inside!) and do not make your bowels explode or your breath kept killing for days. So, if you have one of these sweet, special Greek onions, take half of it per person. Greek olive oil, of course, a fine real Greek Feta (make sure you have not the one made with cow milk) and a handful of green olives. That´s it.
Making the classic Greek Salad
You start by chopping the cucumber. I cut it in half and chop it up to 0.8 to 1 cm thick chops. If the schale is fine and thin, I let it on. If the cucumbers are somewhat older, I take it off first. The cucumbers form a bed on the base of the plate. Onto which the roughly cut tomato-pieces are given. No fancy arrangement, but nicely arranged. If you cannot supply yourself with vegetables of Greek origin, you may put some salt n cucumbers and tomatoes to enhance the taste. Finished with the second layer? Put on the nicely chopped onions. And do not be shy: There is not a greater anger than that of having eaten just half of the salad but running out of onions! You need at least two chops of onions for each piece of tomato …
On top of the green-red-white (or violet) mountain of fresh veggie-joy, put a single block of Feta cheese. Again, don´t be shy: A hungry adult male will devour one full Feta cheese with ease, no need to break it up or slice it. On top of the Feta block give dry Orgeano herbs. I like it full-blown green, some want less. You may check first. Put Greek olive oil on top, pour a lot of it on the salad and garnish it with 4, 5 or 6 green olives. Voila! That´s it – classic style Greek Salad. Some restaurants serve it slightly “enhanced”: Some will put roasted bread along, some have Capers mingled in, some add slices of pepper. I added some red peppers, but just a few.
Refreshing Intermezzo …
So, during my “cooking” efforts down below in the galley of our Sun Odyssey, the overwhelming heat of a summer´s day got me really upset: We ad to motor the entire day, race was cancelled, as there wasn´t any wind. Instead, 43 degrees Celsius which was killing us up on deck, rest assured, nobody wanted to work down under in the galley. So I had an idea …
In Greece you will notice wild growing Lemon trees and Orange trees every now and then. They do grow leisurely in gardens, along streets and in large plantations. Whilst the Oranges did not taste very well (I guess they are not meant for raw consume but serve for a different purpose), the Lemons are tasty as hell and their intense smell alone, as I found out, is a great add to your boat´s appearance. I always had three or five of them freshly collected when in harbor: They look good as decoration and convey a nice fresh smell. So I took one of them and sliced it up …
Pulling an ice cold Coke out of the fridge, I added one of those sour slices per glass and served the refreshment to my crew. A big “Hello” and thanks for the most welcome detraction from the burning summer heat! But, back to our salad …
Enjoy a full-size meal: Greek Salad, food of the Gods
The one I prepared helped my crew over lunch time. You really do not need more to fill a hungry stomach: The Feta cheese stuffs perfectly, a great company to the cucumber. I love combining Feta and cucumber as I would say they both go together just fine. Likewise, tomato and onion, garnished with some Oregano is also such a great taste! Ahhh, writing this is so mouthwatering, I could even grab my car keys and go for a Greek shopping round!
My crew thanked me and I got back empty plates, as white and clean as I had taken them out of the stowage minutes before: I forgot the name, but the Greeks have a word for the sauce that is left after you have eaten the salad. A tasty mixture of tomato-juice, spiced with cucumber and onion aroma, olive oil and Oregano. They use to take fresh bread and soak it in this sauce, the best till last, enjoying these last bites with glasses of that cold, sweet, tasteful Greek wine. Oh, what a joy!
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