I know this sounds crazy, but I love it when I find a snail in my bunch of spinach. Then I know it’s organic and fresh. When I bring home my load of vegies from the farmers market, sometimes I find little hitchhikers which end up being freed into my yard rather than cooked up in a pot. That’s one of the reasons I’m not going to include a recipe for cooked snails. That, and the fact that I just have never developed a taste for them.
But what I have developed a taste for is beautiful, green, extra virgin, cold pressed, organic olive oil that explodes with taste and makes anything you put it on or in taste like comfort food.
Did you know that the average Greek consumes about 26 liters of olive oil per year?! So an average family of four consumes over 100 liters (or 27 GALLONS!) per year. When I tell that astounding fact to my Greek friends, they just look at me and shrug and say, “That’s about right.” But then, olive oil here is as plentiful as water. In fact, every authentic Greek recipe and remedy involves the use of copious amounts of olive oil. Need a skin lotion or sunscreen? Rub in a little olive oil. Want to lubricate a creaky door hinge? A few drops of olive oil will do the trick. Hair mask? Olive oil. Dry lips? Olive oil. Bee sting, rash, or mosquito bite? You get the point. Some remedies really should get a prize for the most creative. A Greek friend says that a precautionary couple of teaspoonfuls of olive oil BEFORE a night out on the town will ease the effects of alcohol (presumably so you can drink even more) and that the same treatment AFTER a drinking binge will ease the effects of a hangover the next day. I thought I’d heard it all until last month when I was the unfortunate recipient of yet another fender-bender. The narrow street in downtown Hania was crowded with passing pedestrians – mostly old ladies. Each one inspected the large scratch on my car and offered her sage advice, “Tipota! Ligo ladi!” Roughly translated it means, “It’s nothing! Put a little olive oil on it!” Seriously? Even if it worked, why would I want to waste this liquid gold on my car?!
I have put on a few pounds since we moved here mostly due to the abundance of feta and bread. There’s nothing really special about the bread here – it just serves as a conduit to get the olive oil into my mouth without using a straw.
I’ve already decided that when I leave Greece, I will have to travel with a flask of olive oil and a lemon in my purse. Can’t get enough! Speaking of lemons, you’ll love this succulent Greek chicken recipe:
LEMONATO KOTOPOULO (Lemon Chicken)
3 cloves garlic
1 whole chicken cut up
2 potatoes per person
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1 t. mustard
2 t. oregano
2 t. salt
Juice of 2 lemons (plus zest)
½ C. olive oil
½ C. water
Peel potatoes and cut lengthwise in fourths. Place in large cooking pan. Lay chicken pieces on top. Cut one garlic clove in half; slice a small hole in each breast and insert ½ garlic clove. Cut others in half and lay around pan. Add oregano and pepper. Dissolve mustard in lemon juice and zest and pour over chicken. Add salt, oil and water. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 min. Uncover, Return to oven and bake 10 min or until golden brown. Serve with a fresh salad and, you guessed it…. plenty of olive oil!