The Greek islands stretch from the Turkish Shore to east of Italy. Greek sailors traveled all over the Mediterranean so the islands didn't lose touch with the main island. Just imagine perched on rocky cliffs with picturesque, whitewashed buildings. There were many foreign invasions from the Minoans, Phoenicians, Spartans, Athenians, Romans, Byzantiums, Venetians, Genoese, Ottoman Turks over the centuries. Later, the Russians, French, English and Italians came.
Greece has an extremely large number of islands, with estimates ranging from somewhere around 1,200 to 6,000, depending on the minimum size to take into account. The number of inhabited islands is variously cited as between 166 and 227.
The largest Greek island by area is Crete, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. The second largest island is Euboea, which is separated from the mainland by the 60m-wide Euripus Strait, and is administered as part of the Central Greece region. After the third and fourth largest Greek Islands, Lesbos and Rhodes, the rest of the islands are two-thirds of the area of Rhodes, or smaller.
The cuisine was affected by all of the invaders in the first paragraph above but there was no dominance by any of them. Greek cuisine was not complicated but simple where they used seasonal vegetables, leafy greens, grains, olive oil, beans, legumes, local cheeses, fresh or cured fish and meats.
Fennel, lemons, capers, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, wild saffron, pepper, and honey are major players in Greek Island cuisine.
OR ELLINIKI KOTOPOULO LEMONI KAI PATATES
OR Éllines soúpa ntomátas me kritharáki
OR Ellinikí gemistés ntomátes
A brief lesson: Oregano
Although they look similar Greek and Italian and Turkish Oreganos are different. They are refered to as Mediterranean Oregano:
- Greek oregano tends to be the most savory and earthy,
- while Italian is milder
- and Turkish is more pungent.
- Used fresh or dry, Mediterranean oregano is the choice for dishes from this region, tomato sauces, pizzas, grilled meats, and other dishes with strong flavors.
SIDE NOTE: There is also a Mexican Oregano which a relative of lemon verbena. Native to Mexico, it also grows in Central and South America and is sometimes referred to as Puerto Rican oregano. Although this herb shares the basic pungent flavor of Mediterranean oregano, it also has notes of citrus and mild licorice. Used fresh or dry, Mexican oregano pairs well with chile peppers, cumin, and paprika. Add it to Latin American dishes, Tex-Mex chili, and salsa.
There are more variations of oregano.
or Croquetas de arroz con azafrán, guisantes y carne molida