Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean one, sharing numerous characteristics with Middle Eastern food of the region. Contemporary Greek cooking makes wide use of olive oil, vegetables, herbs, grains and bread, wine, fish and various meats, including lamb and poultry. Olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, and yogurt are also important.
Krista Manickas was born and raised in Lexington as a Greek American. She went through Lexington public schools. Krista has always been involved in the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which this year is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Her father, Dr. Agisilaos Peter Manickas is a founding member. For many Greeks, the church is the focus of their community, not only for religion but also for cultural and social gatherings...which almost always includes good food and dance! St. Nicholas has been a focal point for the Greek community of Lexington and surrounding towns for many generations.
Krista’s family is from the Peloponnesus of Greece, specifically two small villages – Leondion (see picture) and Kato Vlassia. These are remote mountain villages, both in which Krista has spent much time enjoying her Greek culture and heritage. Krista also spent her junior year in college studying and living in Athens, completely immersed in Greek culture and cooking!
Along with four teenage children Krista also has extended family in Lexington so she is always cooking for many! Her mother Wende has been a great teacher in the kitchen sharing her secrets of Greek Cuisine - always saying when its time to mix ingredients “Dig in with your hands”!
When not cooking for family and friends, Krista practices dentistry with her father and husband in Lexington and is also involved in the music community playing the violin.
According to Krista "this menu is a wonderful hearty meal for a cold winter evening."
One large cucumber
3-4 medium tomatoes
One red onion.
Slice vegetables and place in large bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and plenty of oregano.
Serve in middle of table many time eaten “family style”.
Always serve with a plate of feta cheese and Kalamata olives and loaf of bread (for dipping in olive oil dressing)
One pound pasta Pastene Regine 10 (wide tubular type spaghetti).
2 pounds ground meat (Beef or combination of veal, pork, beef)
½ lb freshly grated sharp cheese (Kefalotiri or sharp cheddar)
½ can tomato paste
½ cup red wine
2 small onions chopped
½ lb butter (2 sticks)
Dash sugar, salt to taste, dash of garlic salt, white pepper
Boil macaroni in large pot, drain, rinse with cold water and return to pot.
Saute onions in olive oil, add meat and separate with fork while browning meat.
Add tomato paste, wine, seasonings.
Cook and simmer for at least 20 minutes.
(Cinnamon is what gives the Patichio its unique taste – taste and add if necessary).
While the meat is simmering, melt one stick of butter and pour over macaroni.
Add half the grated cheese and 3 eggs (beaten) and mix in the macaroni and cheese.
Spread half the macaroni on bottom of 9 x13 pan. (arrange macaroni in straight even lines). Cover this with meat sauce. Spread remaining macaroni on top.
Cover the pastiche with a cream (Bechamel) sauce which is prepared as follows.
1 quart whole milk
5 Tbsp cornstarch
1 stick butter melted
2 eggs, beaten
Place melted butter in saucepan and add milk (save about one cup of milk to add later if needed to dilute mix).
Using a wire whisk blend in cornstarch and cook over medium heat until sauce is thickened. (Be patient and take your time with this! )
Add dash of salt if desired.
When sauce has thickened, remove from heat, add beaten eggs, mix, and spread over entire top of Pastichio.
Sprinkle remaining half of grated cheese and bake at 350* for approximately 40 minutes or until top is golden.
Serve warm with a bottle of Greek Red Wine on table – Demestica is Krista's favorite.
Most Greek meals end with family and friends lingering around the table enjoying good conversation and sharing stories. Many times a large plate of fruit is served – Karpousi (watermelon) is a favorite. In addition a plate of cookies may be offered. Krista's Yiayia (grandmother) always had a jar of Koulouria ready to be eaten!
1/2 lb butter
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
5 ½ cups pre-sifted flour
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup orange juice
¼ tsp salt
1 jigger whiskey
Sesame seeds and 1 beaten egg for glaze
Melt butter and place in a large bowl and add oil, orange juice, and sugar.
Measure 1 cup flour add baking powder to this and slowly add to mixture.
Add remaining flour mixing well and add whiskey, vanilla and salt.
Work dough with hands and shape into braids, round circle and coils.
Place on baking sheet and glaze with pastry brush and sprinkle with sesame seed.
Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes.
Yields 40-50 cookies.
The salad is extremely healthy. Eat lots of it!
Limit salt intake by using low-salt cheese and no salt butter.
Limit fat intake by using low-fat or no-fat cheeses; perhaps also a small piece of dessert or chose watermelon as Krista suggests as another way to end a Greek meal.
Limit calorie intake by small serving of the Pastichio, about the size of a deck of cards. (You can always have more salad if you are hungry.) If possible eat watermelon as a way to end a Greek meal.
Eat slowly as if you are dining on a romantic Greek island enjoying the sun, warmth, and lack of a to-do’s list.
Two Greek wines that would be a good choices, as well as others.
2012 Notios Peloponnisos White (blend of Moschofilero and Roditis) - $14.99
2012 Thibert Macon-Fuisse (Burgundy Chardonnay) - $15.99
2012 Domaine de la Hersandiere Muscadet (Dry White Loire) - $9.99
2009 Harlaftis Nemea Red - $11.99
2010 Peljesac (Croatia) $14.99
2011 Moulin de Gassac "Le Mazet" (Languedoc) - $10.99
Domaine du Perat Pineau des Charentes (fortified sweet white wine from southern France) - $24.99
Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Aszo (the classic dessert wine of Hungary) - $39.99
The goal of the Greek Learning Experience is to give you a better idea of the country and its citizens. Some items are listed below. Direct links offer more information. It's educational and Fun!
The quote..."I like to cook, but mostly Greek. When I am confused or tired, I think about what I can cook. It takes you away from everything, as you are thinking only of your dish"...is from the famous singer Nana Mouskouri.
Other Nana Mouskouri quotes:
- It's nice to look good, but the most important thing is to be you.
- When I was very young I was the ugly duckling. I had a lot of complexes. My sister was wonderful and I was nothing.
- And for all the cooks...The secret is to cook the aubergines the day before and let them dry of all the oil they drank in cooking. When you cook aubergine, they eat a lot of oil. It can be very heavy.
Greece was ahead of most people in the world...read here some quotes from people who lived hundreds of year BC such as Plato and Socrates.
- A library is a repository of medicine for the mind.
- From a thorn comes a rose, and from a rose comes a thorn.
- If advice will not improve him, neither will the rod.
- When the fox cannot reach the grapes he says they are not ripe.
- Live today, forget the past.
- To deceive a diplomat speak the truth, he has no experience with it.
For 71 additional Greek proverbs cut+paste this World of Quotes link:
Prince Philip, Ariana Huffington, and of course Nana Mouskouri.
Starting with Alexander the Great who according to many is the most famous Greek personality ever...who became King at age 20 and died at 32!
You find many of them - Homer, Plato, Socrates and many more - at:
Here is a wonderful collection of stories about Greek fairies. Similar to the northern ones, they are not adverse to interacting with mortals. However, there is always some proviso, such as the fairy bride who is forbidden to speak, and drives her husband mad (The Fairy Mother). The tragedy can also turn the other way, such as the fairy maiden exiled from the fairy palace by one kiss from a mortal (The Fairy Comb). They have sanctuaries, sometimes on mountain peaks, sometimes in the ocean. The Greek fairies described here are obvious descendants of the nature elemental of ancient mythology.
Click for 12 stories here:
From the Greek Orthodox Church to the Greek Family to the Greek Foods and Drinks (including Krista's Salata Xoriatico)…and a lot more. Click the link and you'll know a lot more about Greece than you knew before.
The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Mycenaean Greece, continuing most notably into Classical Greece, through the influence of the Roman Empire and its successor the Byzantine Empire. Other cultures and states such as Latin and Frankish states, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, Genoese Republic, and British Empire have also left their influence on modern Greek culture, but historians credit the Greek War of Independence with revitalizing Greece and giving birth to a single entity of its multi-faceted culture.
In ancient times, Greece was the birthplace of Western culture. Modern democracies owe a debt to Greek beliefs in government by the people, trial by jury, and equality under the law. The ancient Greeks pioneered in many fields that rely on systematic thought, including biology, geometry, history, philosophy, and physics. They introduced such important literary forms as epic and lyric poetry, history, tragedy, and comedy. In their pursuit of order and proportion, the Greeks created an ideal of beauty that strongly influenced Western art.
For the full details cut+paste this Wikipedia link in your browser:
Learn quickly what US state is roughly the size of Greece...and that voting in Greece is required by law for every citizen over 18...
See here a link to stories from expats who did and moved to Greece permanently.
Greece is a very popular country with tourists...think beaches, islands, cruises and beautiful weather...
This link is to the official website of the Greek National Tourist Board
The second link is to the Greece section of the European Travel Research Center (on products, services, discounts and much more.)
Happy Eating and Traveling!