Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day (Πρωτομαγιά)

The first of May is a Greek holiday (one of many) recognising the right of the worker to a 40-hour week. When it falls during the weekend (like this year), it means that we miss out on the 'holiday' aspect of the celebro-commemoration because, unlike in some countries (with fewer national/religious holidays), a Greek bank holiday is always celebrated on the day it occurs, and not 'moved' to a more convenient weekday (like Monday or Friday) for the full not-at-work effect to be felt.

Protomayia (the first of May) in Greece is also associated sunny (but not overly warm) weather and the countryside. It is one of the few days that people like to go picknicking in parks and shady fields (since the economic crisis hit, this has become more common). You will see people collecting flowers and making wreaths out of them.

flower and lettuce salad kritamos coastal herb in egg and potato salad
John the cook at MAICh prepared these delicious salads for the students. Left: flower petals on a bed of lettuce; right: kritamos, a coastal weed (which needs to be pickled before use) in an egg and potato salad.
flower and lettuce salad
Click on the photo above to enlarge it and read the notes about the flower species added to it.

If you don't feel like collecting flowers and then making wreaths out of them, you can always add them to your food. The petals of edible species of flowers are many and varied. They add vibrant spring colour to a bed of greens, and each flower has its own distinctive taste. Some are bland while others remind you of a mixture of spices.

riana's salad
Riana's salad; you can get more information about edible flowers from her collection of photos.

It may sound unusual to add flowers to your food, but it is actually more common than you think. Artichokes, zucchini flowers and capers are also edible flowers, except that they are bigger and/or covered in thorns, and don't usually get placed in a flower vase.

kolokithoanthous pumpkin zucchini flowers artichoke in flower

But if they did, they would also look pretty spectacular, wouldn't they?
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