You know you’re Greek when your suitcase back includes two types of rakí (plain and mulled/aged), fáva, pistachios in three forms, two kinds of medicinal herbs, cheese (not pictured), salami (not pictured - it’s in the fridge with the cheese), carob rusks from Crete, multi-seed breadsticks from Athens, tahini, spices, and pomegranate jam.
A slightly eccentric selection, but so am I.

Where capers come from. The little green pointy buds that are pickled and eaten would, if allowed to bloom, open into these lovely, scented flowers. In the second image, the fruit, sometimes also pickled.

This is amaranth in cultivation in Greece, where it is called βλήτα (vlíta) and harvested for its leaves, which are boiled and eaten as a summer salad.
The second image shows the plant coming into flower. When allowed to set seed, it produces amaranth grain, increasingly in use by those avoiding wheat. As a flour, it has makes a delightfully crunchy coating for fried foods I recommend even to wheat eaters.

Soda water with oil of mastic - pistaccia lentiscus. Highly prized in the Eastern Mediterranean, this aromatic gum, an ancient precursor to chewing gum, is purported to have digestive and antiseptic properties and grows only on the Greek island of Chios. The soda is unsweetened, crisp, and delicious. To me anyway.

Wild St John’s wort growing in the Cyclades in Greece, where it is called “balsam” and mostly used as a balm - steeped in olive oil and applied as a skin tonic or muscle rub. Warning - it increases skin photosensitivity and must never be used if going out in the sun.

Three variations on a home-made cheese from a farm taverna in the Cyclades: clockwise from bottom left - the original article, unsalted and tasting of free grazing, a garlic and herbs version, and a salted, slightly longer-matured one.

Changes in latitude, changes in vegetation. My old friend Vitex agnus castus, the chaste tree, exuding its spicy fragrance in the parched Mediterranean landscape.

I root the bindweed out of my garden as best I can, but a neighbourhood empty lot where it runs riot reminded me how pretty it is, even if it does choke the life out of other plants.

After years of asking people how to grow ginger, I finally just put a withering rhizome in a pot on the windowsill, with the little green bump just poking out of the surface of the soil, kept it damp mostly, and … tadah!
(I’ve moved it for the sake of the photo, it lives on a west-facing kitchen windowsill

I’ve been wanting to try marinating in pineapple juice, since I read that it contains an enzyme (bromelain) that tenderises meat - so much so that you are warned not to marinate chicken for longer than 20 minutes lest it fall apart.

This is pork spareribs marinated for two hours in fresh pineapple, soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar l, and lime juice. It was certainly tender, the rib bones fell right out. See second picture, a different rack to which I also added scotch bonnet chilli.

Kith Kitchen

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