Welcome Spring!!! March that means spring is around the corner… We can smell spring air…we need to beware of March because as we all know : “March, many weathers” . A gentle breeze tangles our hair … a gentle touch, not a “tornado” …bringing with it many beautiful and sweet odors!!!
With the idea of “welcoming” in mind, our ancestors recommended only sweet food and sweet wines during the first month of spring!!
No bitter or acidic foods… Everything was sweetened with honey in order to bring a joyful mood to the people!! It never occurred to me but if you stick to this menu you will probably maintain a joyful disposition! In simple words, “long faces” are not allowed… Excuse me…I forgot we were talking about food… I will deal with “long faces” in another issue…
So all those unforgettable tasty meats of which nothing was left on our platters continue with their “juices” to be part of our menu this month. But now these should be honeyed and sweet! You can imagine that honey and cinnamon are used to excess in this month food…
I will disappoint fish lovers … Fish with scales were to be avoided as the plague …don’t even think of them !!!!You can however eat as much bass and mullet you desire!!!
Beetroot, mallow, orache, all types of asparagus as well as mushrooms are plentiful in this month’s menu! Bitter greens, moss sprouts and ruscus aculeatus are strictly not recommended . Pickles are often used to accompany most foods this month… but only pickles made from green olives set in brine. Olives in sweet vinegar should also be consumed occasionally.
The sweetest and most aromatic wines (“kondipon”) were never forgotten. These wines were sweeter than liqueur …almost syrup like. That is precisely why only small quantities were allowed ….”bottoms up” practices are to be forgotten!!!
Pots on fire through the day, filled the air with beautiful odors from cooking pulses …Well boiled crushed wheat, slightly runny because as you remember our ancestors loved broths rather than mush. These broths should be seasoned with honey, nard, cinnamon and the most aromatic wines. As they did not recommend drinking much wine , they added some to their broths so as not to waste it… Broad beans should be soaked in water for hours before been boiled thoroughly in salt water and the finest fresh olive oil.
Fenugreek seeds should be very well rinsed and hand rubbed. The seeds should then be slightly boiled until they began to shrink . This was intentional… They maintained that if the seeds were overlooked they would then be difficult to digest , harming the intestines … As you know this would result in constipation which is not a good thing….instead if they just boil them a little their broth could be bitter but they could always sweeten this with honey. Peas and afchoi should be ground and black-eyed beans should be well boiled in sweet vinegar.
In March our ancestors consumed the same fruits as in January and February but dates were also allowed if one chose .
You will appreciate that March’s menu is beautiful and sweet . We say farewell to March as sweetly as we welcomed him!!!
Be patient though ….in our next issue our beauty advice, baths and screams follow …the beauty tips are coming…baths and creams for the next … stay in your seats!!!
Article by Kyriaki Solomonidou, AthensTrainers® Associate
SOURCE: TASTES OF BYZANTIUM: The cuisine of a legendary empire, Andrew Dalby