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Aeginetan Cuisine Through the Ages


Aeginetans have always enjoyed good food and they had the wisdom to seek culinary enjoyment in simple things. That wisdom is rooted in antiquity, continued by the Deipnosophists and more recently by our own grandmothers who bequeathed us with Mediterranean cuisine. This unique traditional style of cooking is a treasure trove of flavours and has been recognised the world over for its nutritional value. Aegina homemakers always created tasty and healthy dishes using the ingredients that were produced locally. These are the foods that homemakers would prepare with care and love for their families: Rabbit or rooster with tomato sauce, or simmered in white wine, accompanied by egg noodles or local sweet potatoes. Frumenty (trahanas) made with fresh eggs from free-range chickens and milk from the goat in the yard for the cold days of winter. Geremezi, a fresh, creamy goat's milk cheese with a slightly sour taste for spring and summer when there is extra milk. Tsigara - a spread made from the milk's top cream and butter so fresh it tickled your nose. Vegetables from the garden fortified by the Aegina sun, the cool sea breeze and the dry soil that makes them sweet. And don't forget the wild greens growing on the hillsides: dandelions, sow thistles, bitter kardamides, mustard greens and many others that can also be used to make aromatic pies. What about fish? The most delicious fish live in the Saronic Gulf: mullet and red mullet, sardines, anchovies, whitefish and other types of fish for hearty fish stews, along with pearly razorfish (katsoules), the orange-red fish fried and served with tomato sauce.

As for sweets, there are the traditional spoon sweets and jams, melomakarona Christmas biscuits, almond cookies with pistachios (kourabies), xerotygana pastries and Greek pancakes - all covered with the scented golden honey provided by local beekeepers. Halva made with semolina, "moustalevria" grape must pudding, stuffed dry figs and sweet pumpkin pie, made from red pumpkin. The basic ingredient in most of these and many other foods, whether sweet or savoury, is olive oil from the olive groves of the island. To lighten their spirits and accompany their dishes, Aeginetans made wine from the vineyards of Mesagros, where the exquisite varieties of Savatiano and Rhoditis grapes were cultivated.

It would be unheard of to let such a rich culinary heritage become lost. These days, we all do our part to preserve it. With our gastronomic tradition and unspoilt fruits of the earth in hand, and the unique Aegina pistachio recently added to our arsenal, creativity is served up with dishes that are both old and new, in the hope you will have yet another reason to return to the island.

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