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Monday, 29 July 2013

New Greek food

The Greeks of today eat a great variety of food. They like their region's traditional products, as they have grown up with them, and have heard a lot about them from the home environment. But they also like their national products because these products link them together as Greeks.

In many parts of the country, there is a resurgence of interest in the region's food of the past, not because people are going hungry or they can't afford to buy food, nor is it because these things are cheaper (most of the time, they are not) or they drop off trees so to speak. These days, there is a growing interest to use the great variety of local products of each different Greek region, as a way of adding value to existing products, or creating something new.

In many ways, we could say that this interest is crisis-born, and in many ways, indeed it is. But if we were to say that they Greek economic crisis erupted in later 2009, then this interest in regional natural products is actually quite a bit older. It was actually the post-2004 Olympics recession that provided the impetus to most of these novel ventures. In other words, the crisis was foreseen.

Evening snack: novelty flavoured locally-produced paximadi with olive oil and oregano, cheese from Limnos (which you couldn't in Cretan supermarkets until only just recently), and home-made natural carob drink, a popular drink in Cretan people's darker past, which remained popular until at least the end of the 70s when fizzy drinks (also local ones) became very widespread. Over the 80s, it became scarce and people didn't search it out, so it stopped being made. By the 90s, it was dead and gone. The idea of using carob in daily food including bread has become popular only since the last 3-4 years; in other words, the resurgence in interest is crisis-related.
At the same time, it remains to be seen what will become of these new products, often cited as 'superfoods'. In some cases, the Greeks themselves are reluctant to adopt them into their own food regimes; in many cases, the prices are actually somewhat prohibitive to do this. The real test is to get them on the international market - that's where the money is. So eventually, the Greeks will be selling food products that they don't actually eat. It sounds crazy, but that is the truth about Greek cuisine: it's a totally different concept when comparing Greece and abroad. 

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