AROUND GREECE

Culinary traditions of the Lent

Once the Carnival festivities are over, people in Greece spend Clean Monday outdoors. Families and friends go to the countryside, fly kites and start the Lent with the rich Clean Monday meal.

Religion and tradition in Greece have it that the lent should last 40 days and involve refraining from all animal products. Nevertheless, some of the most delicious dishes of the Greek cuisine make up the lent table, ranging from vegetables and pulses to seafood and other nutritious and scrumptious ingredients. To round off the pleasure, there goes the traditional halva and syrupy sweets.

Starters

Fresh salads with tomatoes, radish, cabbage and lettuce with sour olives, caper, caper leaves, spicy pickles, fish roe salads, potato salads seasoned with onion and, of course, an abundance of olive oil and lemon poured on everything!

Main course

Seafood is the king! Tender cuttlefish with spinach, grilled squids stuffed with rice and vegetables, octopus with vinegar or pasta, shrimps baked with pasta in a clay pot, fisherman’s pasta, and mussel pilaf: those are just some of the mouthwatering dishes you can choose from. 

Oily and dishes cooked in a saucepan - popular in Greek cuisine anyway – have their position on the Lent table too: bean soups, baked giant beans, vine leaves stuffed with rice, chickpea soups, and tomato balls will definitely steal your heart!


Sweet desserts

Peculiar to this time of the year is halva. There are different types of it: the tahini (=ground sesame pulp) one, optionally made with chocolate or dry fruit too, the “Farsala halva”, made with rice or corn flour and with a gelatinous consistency, and the semolina halva, made with either thick or think semolina flour, olive oil, raisins, dry food and cinnamon sprinkled on top. Other than halva, people tend to consume syrupy sweets such as tahini and honey pies.

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