In The Country and Town May 2024


Photo: Big Zuu

“I’ve thought a lot about why Italian food is elevated. Italian food can be very every day, but you have very fancy Italian restaurants – and Italian holidays are very special, aren’t they? But for a long time, you had Greek package holidays – and there’s nothing wrong with that. “But I think the reason Greek food was misunderstood for a long time, is because I grew up in an era of Teletext Holidays and cheap holidays.” Hayden, 41, suggests Greece became associated with budget holidays – and while the locations might have been beautiful, the strips and accommodations didn’t necessarily reflect that, and that reputation carried over to food. But now, there’s something of a change happening. “Greek foods are having a real moment,” Hayden, who worked with Jamie Oliver for over a decade, adds. “We’re definitely seeing an influx of really high-end – again, it’s not that I need or want food to be posh or fancy. It’s just having a spectrum and a range – if you want to have high end-Greek, now you can. If you want middle and cheaper, you can.” While she accepts that Greek cuisine loves “our grills and our meat”, she says: “This isn’t the only thing… We love lentils, a lot of pulses, a lot of vegetables and salads.Actually, dare I say, if you’re vegetarian, you would be laughing if you went to Greece, you would have such a range of things you could eat there.”

So if you were to start cooking a bit more Greek food at home, where should you start?

Move over Italian and French food – Greek cuisine is having a moment By Prudence Wade, PA

Hayden’s new cookbook, Greekish, has a chapter dedicated to ‘things on sticks’, and for her, this is a great jumping off point.These recipes do very much what they say on the tin – you spear some kind of protein on a stick, be it meat, fish or something like mushrooms, and make a “cracking marinade” to go with it, served with pita bread from the supermarket. And for Hayden,‘Greekish’ is the best way to describe her food. “It works on a lot of levels, in the fact that the food is Greek-inspired, as opposed to incredibly authentic,” she notes, which is different to her previous two cookbooks – the last, Nistisima, putting the spotlight on food eaten by Orthodox people during Lent. This time round, “They’re Greek recipes, but they’re my recipes,” she says.“So there’s an ‘ish’ to them. No one could argue that it might not be the way their granny makes, or the way their mum makes it – that’s where the ‘ish’ comes from.

French and Italian cuisines have long dominated the food landscape.

Greek food doesn’t traditionally have quite the same reputation, and while food writer Georgina Hayden is well aware of the stereotypes, that’s something she’s keen on changing. “For a very long time, Greek food was just seen as kebabs, meat on sticks – which is delicious, we love a kebab, don’t get me wrong. But at the same time, that’s all it was – quite greasy, dirty food,” Hayden says.

For Greek-Cypriot Hayden, who lives in London, Greek food hasn’t been afforded the same range as other European

“But there’s also lots of other ways that it becomes relevant

92 |

Made with FlippingBook interactive PDF creator