Who Doesn’t Love Meat on a Stick?
As you know, over the past week, I’ve been staycationing in Athens, Greece. So far I’ve tried to do my best imitation of a greek grandmother (γιαγιά) by cooking up a storm. I’ve made my own pita, melitzanoslada, pastieli and ouzo soda. I couldn’t leave Athens without cooking meat. So I tried my hand at Souvlaki.
In it’s most basic form, souvlaki is meat on a stick. It can be served in various ways, many times with pita and potatoes. It turns out, people have been delighted by meat on a stick since the times of Aristotle and Aristophanes, as it has been mentioned in their writings. So you can thank Greeks for the “on a stick” food we enjoy at festivals around the world.
Also here’s a fun fact about souvlaki according to Wikipedia:
Kalamaki (little reed) is a synonym for souvlaki proper in Athens, in order to differientate it from other forms of souvlaki.
For kalamaki, the meat is cubed into 1-inch chunks, marinated overnight in lemon juice and olive oil along with Greek herbs and spices such as oregano and on occasion thyme, etc., in a pinch. Then it is skewered on wooden skewers (the “little reeds”), broiled over charcoal, and generously salted and peppered.
The terminology used in Thessaloniki and most parts of northern Greece is different, the word kalamaki is derided since the item is called consistently a souvlaki; a joke suggests that any Athenian or other southerner visiting Thessaloniki asks for a kalamaki will be mockingly given a drinking straw (also called “kalamaki”).
Oh Greek humor!
While the dinner was a flavor success it wasn’t so successful in the traditional terms. Shhh . . . don’t tell anyone, but I used beef instead of lamb!
<shakes head in shame>
Traditionally, souvlaki is made with lamb, but being in a house where only 1 out of 3 people only like lamb, I had to go with beef. It was still delicous and super, super easy to make. I recommend letting the meat sit overnight for even more flavor. I served souvlaki with a cucumber yogurt salad and some pita.
I have a ways to go before I reach γιαγιά status, but thank you to all those who voted to send me to Athens for my first staycation. I have enjoyed learning more about Greek food and the culture behind it. I look forward to tying what I’ve learned about this cuisine to other foods in the future.
Αντίο από την Αθήνα!
(Thanks Google Translate!)
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