All posts tagged: λαδερό

eggplants with tomato sauce and feta

‘Mad apples’ with tomato sauce and feta

Eggplants are a staple food of the Mediterranean summer. At the same time they never got rid of an air of mystery. First, the name. The Greeks call them ‘melintzana’, which is a strange sounding word for such a familiar crop. It is a byzantine combination of the Arab ‘bāḏinjān’ and the Greek ‘melas’ – black. The Italians call it melanzana , which sounds close to  mela insana – ‘mad apple’, echoing the origin of the crop from the toxic nightshade species. Then, the origin of the cultivated specie: is it India, China or SE Asia? Perhaps it was domesticated more than once, reminding us of the debate of origin of the homo sapiens. Did we play for eggplants the role nature played on us on our way out of Africa, combining different evolutionary trails, still not fully understood? Then it is the colour of the black variety, unlikely to anything other fruit: black and shiny, ready for interpretation by an oracle – or like a missed opportunity to inspire an Italian art nouveau movement in the early …

Gemista (Stuffed Vegetables)

Gemista in greek means ‘stuffed’, and the most common vegetables to stuff are tomatoes and green peppers. We can however argue that Gemista was a popular dish, with the same name, before tomatoes and peppers were introduced to Europe after the discovery of America. They probably stuffed eggplants, that were introduced by the Arabs in the middle ages, and vine leaves. Rice was available in Greece ever since the soldiers of Alexander brought it home from Asia, so it could be used in the stuffing. We can deduce that Gemista have existed at least since the 15th century, because poor Gemistos, a byzantine scholar and teacher had to change his name to the more archaic “Pletho’. How can you keep your academic dignity, if you are named after stuffed vegetables? Serves 8 The vegetables 5 tomatoes, ripe but firm 8 green bell peppers 3 sweet red long peppers 20 vine leaves 3 large onions (make about 10 stuffed onions) 2 medium potatoes, cut into thin wedges The rice filling 500g white middle-grain rice (risotto rice), …