Without a doubt, one of the best meals I have ever been served was in Rhodes. I have been holidaying with my family on the Greek island for years and in 2013, my cousin and her husband renewed their vows at Dimitrios Chapel in Lindos – a picturesque medieval village sitting below an Acropolis.
The wedding reception was hosted by a good friend of ours called Nikos, who runs a beach café named Flyers in the nearby village of Pefkos. His Mama had offered to cook a local speciality for us, a lamb dish which had been slow cooking for a whole 24 hours before finally being served to the hungry wedding guests. As you can imagine, Greek mamas sure know how to cook and the lamb was out of this world.
Unlike Britain, lamb is one of the most used dishes in Greek cooking due to its affordability and I ate a large amount of it whilst out there. But the thing that has really impressed me over the years is how easy it is to safely eat in Greece without having to worry about the various, unnecessary ingredients which have been sneaked into a meal.
Greek cooking is simplicity at its best. They use few ingredients but cook with passion and care, never over-complicating a dish when they don’t need to. I didn’t fear finding wheat or milk based products on my plate when the menu stated what was in the dish and I have never been allowed so much choice off a menu – I truly felt like a ‘normal eater’ again. My good friend Nikos even went as far as to buy me Goats milk to keep at his café so I could indulge in a milkshake when I stopped by – you cannot fault the Greeks for their hospitality.
One thing that Greek cuisine has taught me, is that we can all eat well on healthy, nutritious produce without having to spend a fortune, and without having to take a master class cookery course. I believe that the hospitality industry could learn a great deal from Mediterranean countries when it comes to catering for coeliacs and allergy sufferers – the fact that in many Greek restaurants I didn’t have to even ask what was in a dish before ordering was a real treat, knowing that the chefs wouldn’t slip in an ‘evil’ ingredient that really didn’t need to be there in the first place.