Of Greeks and celebrations

I didn’t get to weigh yesterday, either. But I do have some fun stuff to share with you today. Yesterday was our fourth over 100° day, so I didn’t linger long in the city. I did the farmer’s market, which proved to be a bonanza by the way, checked out the local food co-op, and then did some grocery shopping. By that time, I was ready to get out of the heat.

Driving back was pleasant. I love it when I turn off of I-5 toward home. Gorgeous blue-green mountains, with some amazing cloud formations overhead. I hadn’t been home very long when the temperature started dropping rapidly–20° in about 15 minutes. It started storming, and the temperature dropped another ten degrees over the next hour. We were without power for a quite a while, and, of course, I had let my laptop go without being plugged in all day, so I couldn’t even write this while the power was down. It was a magnificent storm! It poured steadily for about an hour and a half; we even had about 5 minutes of hail. If I had forgotten about oak trees being notorious “lightning trees,” we got a dramatic reminder when one of them was struck. When we examined it, though, it has obviously been struck numerous times over the years. Our yard is full of oak trees, so I’m curious as to why it’s the same one that gets struck every time.

The farmer’s market bounty was amazing. If you’ve never shopped a farmer’s market, you’ve missed a great treat. I came home with a wide array of succulently fresh veggies for a pittance.

We’re celebrating our 4th of July at home. We woke to a glorious 68° and fog this morning—great sleeping weather last night, too! The heat is creeping back up, but I don’t think it will hit 100° today.

So I was looking at my bounty from yesterday and deciding what to make for a special holiday meal, and I decided on Mediterranean fare. I’m making “souvlaki me pita,” normally a little shishkabob that’s served up like a gyro. I’m fudging a bit as we’re not equipped to grill out, so I’m cooking a lovely pork tenderloin in the crockpot, seasoned with Middle Eastern spices, and making my own pita, tzatziki, and roasted veggies.

I had the privilege many years ago of spending 18 months in Athens. I was newly married and knew very little about cooking, but no matter—the economy was such that we could eat out every night of the week cheaper than we could shop the American commissary and cook at home. Luckily, as time wore on, I had some great Greek cooks to teach me, and I have many, many authentic recipes, some of which I will share with you today in a separate post.

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that someone said that likely a Mediterranean Diet works for Mediterraneans because they don’t have the stress level we do here in the states. Of course, I have no idea what it is like today, but when I was there in 1979-80, it was like being back in the 50s. Everything was so laid back. Shops were open from early morning until about 1 pm, then closed in the heat of the afternoon and reopened in the evening.

They also practiced a different kind of fasting. Instead of only fasting on Fridays and during Lent, they have an amazing number of fasts imposed by the Orthodox church calendar, so they actually eat like vegetarians the majority of the time and roasted meat is more like holiday fare. Of course the little tavernas catered mostly to the American military and European tourists, so they always served meat, but at home people fasted a lot.

In my studies of Greek paganism, that same pattern has been set for at least two or three millennia. The Greek villages ate mostly what they produced by hand, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and occasionally chickens then sacrificed a larger animal (lamb or goat, rarely cattle or pigs) and shared the meat among the community only on High Days.

In the Greek religious communities (of nuns and monks), they most often survive on bread, oil, and olives. Of course their wheat is not tainted like ours (or wasn’t when I was there). Their flour created a beautiful golden loaf of bread with a yellow crumb. It was very dense and high in protein, so one can easily see how a meal of this bread, dipped in oil, and accompanied by olives would be very high in protein and essential fatty acids, with the added fiber from the olives—nearly a perfect diet.

I’ve long been convinced that I could be nearly self-sufficient (food-wise) with a couple of goats, a few chickens, and a garden.

Next on my list to learn: sprouted whole grains. Note: when they say “whole grains” are healthy, they don’t mean whole grain flours. Whole grain flours are still highly processed. While they retain extra nutrition by using the grain husks, where the nutrient content is contained, it is still highly processed.

If I lived in a city, perhaps I would have my own bakery and bring in some European flours. Just cooking for myself and my partner, it wouldn’t be practical, of course, to have it shipped over here. Too bad I let myself get out of touch with the friends I had there.

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell for today.

Keep an eye out for the recipes.


2 thoughts on “Of Greeks and celebrations

  1. Pingback: Back in the saddle again! | The Un-Diet 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge

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