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Recipes giving off the taste of Christmas

It’s Christmas time once again and the Greek cuisine boasts some delicious savoury and sweet dishes. The festive table is laid with food prepared according to age-old traditions and culinary customs associated with the most cheerful time of the year.

 


The festive table

The main ingredient of the Christmas table is pork meat and its consumption is connected to ancient Greek festivities. In those times, farmers would sacrifice a pig and pray to god Cronus and goddess Demeter requesting that their lands be fertile and their houses cleansed of demons.
Back to the present, the most common dish you will taste in Greece is Pork and celery served with an egg and lemon sauce. If you visit Kefalonia Island, in the Ionian Sea, you should try the local Christmas dish called poutrida (pork cooked with cauliflower and cabbage). If you travel south to Crete, it is customary to roast pork shoulder blades on lemon tree leaves

 

Further up in the Greek North, there is a preference for wild boar especially in Ioannina town. On Samos Island you will taste a scrumptious dish of pork and lemon, called pichti. In the Peloponnese and on Evia Island you will try an oven-baked pork dish or the delicious pork kontosouvli [pieces of broiled skewered pork meat]. In the region of Thrace, the festive dish called babo is pork cooked in the oven with herbs and spices. Epirus is well-known for its pies – all sorts of pies! Try the local meat pie with onions and leeks, the zucchini pie, blatsara (a pie with mixed greens and corn flour) and kothropita (a pie with boiled chicken and rice). In the Dodecanese islands the customary dish for Christmas is giaprakia made with minced meat and rice wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves that represent the swaddling clothes of baby Jesus.

 


Sweet treats with cinnamon and honey

A sweet dessert is always the best way to end your meal. In ancient Greece, honey represented abundance and happiness and its place on today’s Christmas table continues to be a prominent one! Sweet dishes for the season include pancakes, diples and melomakarona. It is customary to offer baklava as a Christmas treat in Volos town, Thessaly; in Corfu you will taste the scrumptious Christmas pudding; and in Lesvos Island you will be offered platseda, a sweet walnut pie, after dinner. In the Peloponnese every household bakes kourabiedes, a type of shortbread made with butter and almonds dusted with lots of caster sugar. This is the typical white Greek dessert for Christmas. In Samos Island you will taste a different version of kourabiedes called katades.


Traditional Christ Bread

This is a festive type of bread prepared in many areas of Greece and served on Christmas Day in the morning. It is made with wheat flour, nuts, sesame and spices. A cross made with dough and other designs, such as flowers and leaves, decorate the face of the bread and a whole walnut (symbol of fertility) is placed at the centre of it.


We wish you a Merry and a Tasty Christmas… the Greek way!

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