Greeks hold 25 March with double reverence as a reminder of Greek independence from Ottoman rule and to celebrate the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. Along with the reenactments, parades and other celebrations that usually would take place, there are dishes that are unique to each region .
In fact this year, cooking the local dishes may well be the best way that quarantined families will be able to commemorate the national event.
A Greek Folk Journey, Travel, Culture & Gastronomy by Terina Armenakis not only highlights special regional celebrations but also points out the local dishes of each region with help from Chef Christos Mantides.
In Mani, the celebrations will have started early, on 15 March, and culminate on Tuesday, 17 March when all the leaders (kapetanaioi), with Petrobey Mavromichalis at their head, gathered at the Church of the Taxiarchs in Areopolis to take the oath to liberate their country.
The local dish for which the Mani is known is Rooster Bardouniotikos that is prepared in a rich tomato sauce with garlic, sfela cheese, red wine, cinnamon, cloves and pimento bedded on a plate of home-made pasta and mizithra.
Mani’s regional sweet is diples with the unique addition of ouzo to flavour the dough before it is deep fried. The local cheese is the soft, white cheese Sfela which is made from young sheep and goat’s milk that is fried or baked and eaten with lalaggia, olive bagels. The cooked sfela also goes well combined with finely chopped tomato served on top of Mani rusks that are slightly soaked in water and sprinkled with olive oil.
Kalamata was the first city to be liberated by Mavromichalis. The day is remembered on 23 March. Here, they will eat Boiled Cod Xinada – an unsalted cod cooked with potatoes, onions, carrots and celery and basted with a sauce made from lemon juice, olive oil and flour.
For the sweet tooth there is Amygdalota: small, pear-shaped sweets made from ground almonds, blossom water and sugar with a clove on top. It is then baked and coated with icing sugar.
In the north western Peloponnese, at Kalavryta they start celebrating on 21 March. It was the nearby Monastery of Agia Lavra that Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the revolutionary flag. The vestments of the bishop are brought out on 25 March during a special service at the monastery.
Here the dish that is unique to the region is the Rose Petal Spoon Sweet made from the petals of 100-petaled roses boiled in water with lemon and then boiled again in sugar until they become translucent. It is best enjoyed served with Kalavryta yoghurt.
On the island of Skiathos, the celebrations would normally begin in the morning with parades and marching bands through the town streets and will focus on the old harbour where there will be group dances culminating in a torchlit procession Lambadiforia to represent the light of freedom and the holy fire of Christ’s resurrection.
The Skiathos Pie is made with baklava filo filled with feta, yogurt, milk and eggs all shaped like a snail. White is the the local spoon sweet made of white almonds, syrup and rose water.
In Hydra they commemorate the day with a two-stage yacht regatta starting from Faliro in Pireaus and ending in Hydra. Once on the island, the sailors are likely to feast on Kritamosalata (Samphire Salad) which is made up of the local greens, “kritami”, that grow on the seashore.
Hydra’s popular sweet is Almond Achladakia: consisting of dough made from ground marzipan, icing sugar and rose water with a clove on top baked and presented with more icing sugar on top.