Summertime and road tripping lead to some of my favorite food adventure memories. In Greece, you can drive on national highways and come across Greek village tavernas that serve greek horiatiki salads under grapevines. Roadside stalls are piled with local fresh, dried, and preserved food that have been made and celebrated for centuries. Tradition, food sovereignty, and pride for fresh Greek food is celebrated in most Greek villages you visit. It certainly reigns true in the Greek village of my Greek summer food memories, Alepohori. My grandmother, Yiayia Chrissy was born there, and I have grown to know the similar tastes and smells she must have enjoyed in her youth. From the chestnut tree forests and oregano-lined mountains, everything was grown organically and families shared the fruits of the Arcadian soil. Visiting Alepohori today provides me with hundreds of simple food pleasures. Today, I am sharing a few of my many favorites that you can enjoy.
1. Drink Ouzo. If you can find local and homemade, even better. In the village, drinking ouzo is pastime and for some . . . an immune booster 😉 You could claim that walking down to the tavern or to your neighbour’s house for glass of ouzo on the hill is the reason why people live to 100 here, not to mention consuming a fresh medley of mezedes everyday. If you like to enjoy long afternoons with traditional tiny plates of food and company from your neighbours, drink ouzo.
2. Pick figs and eat them. If you are lucky enough to be in Greece during the months of July, August, September then you will be in wild food harvesting heaven.
3. Keep an eye out for summer fruit trees. A simple mountain walk in the afternoon will lead you to picking fresh public produce from the fruit trees. Below is a modest harvest of bite size Grecian yellow plums.
4. Visit the local cheese dairy and choose the best tasting Feta made from Goat’s milk. If there are different cheese varieties, buy a small portion of Manouri cheese and fry it up on a skillet at home.
5. Pick fresh tomatoes from the vine and prepare a traditional Greek village salad:
Greek salad recipe
2 large tomatoes (cut into bite size chunks)
Put in a medium-sized bowl and add salt to taste. Toss the tomatoes so the salt draws out the juices.
Add a half a long thin cucumber (cut into half slices)
1/4 of red onion (cut into thin slices)
1/2 green pepper (cut into thin slices)
Mix the salad together.
Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the salad and a pinch of fresh or dried oregano.
1 slice of your fresh feta cheese (portion to your desire)
Place feta on top of the salad and sprinkle more oregano and drizzle more oil.
Add 5-7 marinated olives to the salad.
Grab forks and dive in.
(Note: Once you’ve finished you salad, leave an extra piece of Greek village bread and soak up all the golden juice: salt, tomato juice, oil and oregano, leaving your bowl clean.
6. Visit the local farms in the village. Most are private plots and operate on biodynamic systems that yields incredible organic produce, beautiful to photograph and even tastier to eat straight from ground.
7. Find out where your honey comes from. Greek honey is so fragrant that getting a chance to see where all the flowers are in bloom makes your next spoonful a visual and sensory treat and a proud locavore.
8. Buy Greek village bread. Next to Alepohori, there is another village, Blakhokeresia, that makes delicious authentic bread.
9. Learn from your grandmothers. Every house you visit, or path you cross is an opportunity to learn, taste and enjoy traditional and personal Greek food favorites. Practice your culinary linguistics and enjoy the range of hospitality that is shown through the food and culture.
10. Share a delicious Greek village lunch feast with family and neighbors. Digest it all by taking a nap-preferably in a hammock, underneath the chestnut trees.