The Culinary Library

Worthwhile gift choices from Santa's book bag

The Culinary Library

The Glorious Foods of Greece: Traditional Recipes From the Islands, Cities, and Villages

by Diane Kochilas

William Morrow, 496 pp., $40

The Glorious Foods of Greece is a landmark work that completely covers the fascinating variety of the true terroir, regional cuisines of Greece and its islands. It perfectly illustrates how the foods of Greece have been heavily influenced through the millenniums by traders of the Near and Middle East, the Italians and Balkans and Turks, and how closely the dishes are tied to the bounty and restrictions of the land and surrounding sea.

Kochilas spent a decade crisscrossing the whole of Greece while researching this definitive work, and her skills as a culinary explorer and chef shine through on the pages. Each chapter begins with an exhaustive definition of a particular region: the influences, the pantry, the regional variations of produce, meats, and fish, and the customs of cooking them. Then, the recipes for each region are presented, from mezethes to desserts. The arrangement is perfectly organized and oh-so logical.

The true value of this book, once you get past the history and minutiae, is the clearly written recipes. Unconventional treats such as salt cod-stuffed grape leaves and cheese-and-sausage-stuffed pastry pie. These are recipes that produce traditional, and largely undiscovered, Greek foods that the gods must be envious of: stuff so good, yet so simple to prepare, and from basic, wholesome ingredients. This book is one of those that will be stained from constant use. Buy it!

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