Click here to visit an excellent foodie site - no, no, no, not now, I haven’t finished with you yet. The site is called ‘Kalofagás’, and there’s the matter of how to pronounce it. Give it a ringing stress on the last syllable - oooO - and try your best not to say something like ‘callow fag-ass’. because that would be wholly inappropriate and insulting to the man who maintains the site, a Canadian Greek who is certainly not callow and the rest is none of our business. The site name ‘Kalofagás’ could, I suppose, be translated as ‘gourmet’, but I have reservations about that. There is a small bunch of Greek masculine nouns terminating in ‘-ás’ that all have a rather well-hung and hairy-chested quality:
Bratsás, hunk, muscled bloke
Gamiás, cocksman, bloke who gets a lot of pussy
Leftás, rich man, bloke rolling in money
Psolarás, bloke with a big dick
Kolombarás, one who is always the 'top' in a man-on-man butt-fuck.
So ‘Kalogafás’ ought perhaps to be ‘trencherman’ rather than ‘gourmet’, I reckon. 'Gourmet' sounds a bit too pernickety.*
The site is attractively designed and beautifully photographed and the food is the real deal; healthy, appetising, colourful and imaginative without being showy or pretentious. It aims first and foremost to make you feel welcome and to nourish you, and only then impress you. The writer starts with the Greek cook's basic ingredients - fresh vegetables, pulses, fresh fish and seafood, feta cheese, olive oil, lemons, dill, parsley – and often adds little twists to classic recipes that never seem smart-arsed but instead make you wonder why you never thought of them yourself. I would never have thought of adding a tiny drop of ouzo to tsatsiki, for example, but from now on, I will.
Tonight I’ve made a vegetable soup based on a Lenten recipe from the Kalofagás. I have made similar veg soups before and always the results were bland, watery and boring, but this one sings. You slice an onion, dice some carrots, shred some white cabbage and chop some celery. Fry these in olive oil with garlic, and throw in some smoked paprika and some chilli flakes. Pour in vegetable stock and some vegetable juice cocktail such as V8, about 50/50. Add a bayleaf and some fresh thyme, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Then chuck in some marinated red peppers out of a jar. The paprika and the chilli are the smart ideas here, I think, along with the V8 for body. The recipe also included courgettes, but I am not a fan, so I leave them out. My minor adaptation is to add fillets of haddock to the boiling soup and then cover it and take it off the heat until the fish is done. Well, I like it that way. You can suit yourself.
Here from the same site is an unusual salad with potatoes and blood oranges. To combine spuds with oranges would never have occured to me in a million years. I haven't tried this yet but it looks beautiful and I am certainly going to. The Greeks I know are fond of citing the combination of fruit with savoury as an example of the barbaric eating habits of foreigners, chiefly the British and Americans. I once had Christmas dinner in Kalamata with an American friend who is married to a Greek, and her assorted in-laws were present. She had cooked turkey and with it provided apple sauce and cranberry sauce. One arrogant little twerp of a brother-in-law went on and on about the inappropriacy of eating fruit with meat. 'It's like putting Merenda on a souvlaki!' he jeered. Merenda is a sweet, gloopy chocolate spread, bearing no bloody resemblance to cranberry sauce. Although I was itching to point this out and shut the cocky little twat up, I forbore, as it would have been almost as rude as his pouring scorn on a meal he had been invited to. I also forgot to point out that in the Mani, only a few kilometres from where we were sitting, they make delicious meaty sausages flavoured with orange zest. If I meet the little shit again, I really must get that one in.
The sun is past the yard arm, I bought some new wineglasses this afternoon and it is high time I christened one, so that will be all. Run along and look at ‘Kalofagás’ now.
*As JK points out, I missed tsaboukás off the list, because I didn't know it. It means a bully, somebody who likes throwing his weight about. From Turkish çabuka, an offender with a previous conviction, according to Wikilexiko. The stuff you learn on this blog, eh?