It’s been a long time – again. It’s been a difficult time – once more.
In spite of the above observations the sun is coming out more often, the spring showers are a blessing, the almond trees are blossoming, the bitter orange trees that line miles of Greek streets present their first scented blooms and “Clean Monday” is round the corner (March 18).
I am not very keen on anniversaries and Saints’days as such but this particular feast, combining the ancient with the modern traditions, is to say the least, intriguing.
Clean Monday is the day Greeks have picnics, fly kites, renew their contact with nature. According to the Greek Orthodox Church it is also the first day of the Easter 40 day lent period and has its own “menu”. The consumerism prevalent in the last two decades has intruded here as well but in a subdued way. We eat dolmadakia – vine leaves stuffed with rice and aromatic herbs, spinach pie (no cheese please) where the spinach is “reenforced” with all types of other greens, from leeks and spring onions to myronia and kafkalithres, gathered on the mountains if you are lucky enough to find them. There is no main course really but it is the day for prawns, calamari, octapus, ink fish etc cooked in innumerable ways ( stuffed calamari, octapus with wine or small onions, inkfish with spinach, prawn risotto, and so on) according to your plans for the day.
My favorite is fava – a creamy dip of mashed chickpeas served with onions, parsley sprigs and capers.
I will add some recipes tomorrow just in case you want to celebrate Spring the Greek way