Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Is Greek Food really Greek???

 As any of the latest naval stand offs between Turks and Greeks in the Aegean shows, the Greeks are not much amenable to the idea that their food might be indebted to Turkish cooking. It is commonplace for Greek food writers to introduce Greek cuisine as one “shaped through over 3,000 years of history.”1 The sumptuous feasts described by Homer or Plato and menus from Athenaeus--all this will be described as part of the Greek culinary heritage. Sometimes it can get rather silly, such as the comment of one writer that “When you start your day with rolls and coffee, you are following an ancient Greek custom.”2 One Greek writer went so far as to state that Greek cuisine is twenty-five centuries old and is the ur-cuisine that the Turks, Italians, and other Europeans borrowed from, not the other way around.3 Nicolas Tselementes was a noted Greek food authority who claimed the Greeks influenced western European foods via Rome; he traced the ancestry of such dishes as keftedesdolmades, moussaka, and yuvarelakia to ancient Greek preparations that subsequently became masked behind Turkish and European names. He also said that bouillabaisse was an offspring of the Greek kakavia.4