The urge to immerse myself and write about seasonal Greek cooking has been simmering in the back of my mind for years. I would get sudden bursts of energy, which typically led to long, animated rants about how we’ve lost touch with traditional, healthy eating, about the superior fragrance and taste of seasonal fruit and vegetables, or about some obscure Greek tradition I unearthed in a book I was reading. I would quickly be swept away by my own ideas and aspirations, and just as quickly I would crash.
Ultimately, it was incredibly easy to put it to one side and save it for the ‘right time’. When I was either less busy with work, had saved enough money to embark on this “properly’” (whatever that meant), or had the ability to spend more time in Greece. Naturally, all perfectly unreasonable excuses not to begin something you care about and have it blow up in your face.
About two weeks ago, conscious that Easter is fast approaching I had a mini-epiphany: The Great Lent (Greek: Μεγάλη Τεσσαρακοστή, meaning "Great 40 Days") could act as an assignment.
It marks the beginning of the Greek Orthodox Easter period and runs for seven weeks before Easter Sunday. During that time, foods traditionally abstained from are meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Wine and olive oil are also limited, but there’s no way in hell (pun intended) I’m giving those up.
It’s perfect. It gives me: a set timeline of 7 weeks, parameters of what I can and cannot eat, and is a period full of diverse Greek cultural traditions.
I will be cooking traditional fasting recipes from across Greece, using only seasonal ingredients. So, if you’re hoping for recipes like gemista (stuffed tomatoes, peppers and aubergines) or briam (Greek ratatouille), I apologise but you’ll need to wait for summer.