And here we are, in February, which is called “lame-February”
in Greece!!! Don’t forget, we are still in the midst of winter.
February’s menu has few differences from January’s menu and it still includes lamb and pork! The meat platters seem unforgettable to us making us want to delve into them and devour them without even using a knife or fork … Dreaming of pinching at that delicious browned and crisp meat skin??? Forget it- no further discussion on this. Back to reality now… In Byzantine times everything was taken in good measure!!!
We have a great variety of fish in this month’s menu! Groupers, lamprey, sedges, skaros, stromataious, gudgeon (not lappin)are recommended this month. All fish should be seasoned with mustard. In addition this month’s menu was enriched with a variety of shellfish! Oysters, crabs, lobster, clams, scallops and others were included in the menu.
Sauces, spices and old aromatic wines are reduced during the current month.
Vegetables are the same as in January, except for wild vegetables and beetroot. Broths of vegetables were forbidden, unless they were made with leek, celery, dill and garlic.
Of course, bread which was usually flavored with plenty of herbs, was included in the menu as well! Byzantines recommended clean, white and fluffy bread. There were of course, other kinds of bread as well, such as, “middle” bread (whole wheat bread), “voukelatton” and thick barley rusks. There was bread for all budgets!
The same went for wine. For those who did not have the appropriate budgets, water was an excellent choice. Oh, yes, water was just perfect … It is documented that people in Istanbul drank a lot of water! However, we are informed that this water had a strange smell….of the kind we don’t even want to imagine…. Experts recommended spring water which was light, sweet and without smell. Other water types were well water, rain water or the water of lakes and rivers.
By that time bathing increased to six times per month. However, applying cream to one’s body remained the same as in January… Do you remember those nice creams? Surely you experimented with them!!! For those of you who did not experiment with the creams in January, you have many chances of doing so this month. You will of course appreciate that January’s “naughty” activities have increased because of the increase of the number of baths in February …
Somehow February comes to an end! It was a little short…that is why this month is called “ lame-February”!
March is coming… we can smell the spring air … Stay with us-our menus have not finished … they are continued next time.
Article by Kyriaki Solomonidou, AthensTrainers® Associate
SOURCE: TASTES OF BYZANTIUM: The cuisine of a legendary empire, Andrew Dalby