Book review: Greece: the Cookbook By Vefa Alexiadou

21 April 2017 by
Book review: Greece: the Cookbook By Vefa Alexiadou

Greece: the Cookbook By Vefa Alexiadou
Phaidon Press, £29.95

If you are unfamiliar with Greek celebrity chefs and TV personalities, Vefa Alexiadou is a good person to start with. Dubbed "Greece's answer to Delia Smith" by The Independent, the 84 year-old cook has collated over 800 recipes in her new book, Greece: the Cookbook.

Being half Greek myself, I thought it would be a good idea to present this book to my mother, who lived on Rhodes for 10 years, to see what she thought. I instantly regretted my decision.

"It's so traditional!" she groaned, while pointing out recipes she used to cook for my family over 20 years ago. "We have seen so many books like this. Why didn't she do anything about how Greek food has evolved?"

And I have to say I agree, to an extent. Greek cuisine is highly influenced by the seasons. The locals live from the land and the sea and have a wide variety of fruit and veg that would make many a British chef envious.

The book covers everything from mezedes (or mezze), starters, soups and salads to fish and shellfish, meat and desserts. It explores all regions of the country, showcasing their produce, such as snails from Crete.

This book would be great for anyone wanting to get a handle on basic, traditional Greek recipes.

As a way of developing the recipes, maybe chefs could take inspiration from them and recreate them using local, British produce. Stuffed peppers, for example, which would be eaten on their own in Greece, could be served alongside meat cooked on the barbecue.

The potato salad with octopus, courgette, halloumi and lettuce or the hot potato salad with smoked trout would spice up the salad section on any menu. The pastry chapter could spur on a more creative offering for takeaway, vendors or food trucks, be it sweet or savoury.

Perhaps Greeks don't want to become 'modernised'. They are proud of their heritage, they learned to cook from the land, and that is nothing less than admirable.

If you liked this, you might enjoy these:
•Vefa's Kitchen - by Vefa Alexiadou
•Rick Stein's Long Weekends by Rick Stein
•The Real Greek by Tonia Buxton

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