Friday, November 20, 2015

The PA Melting Pot - Part 6 -1- Macedonians - Greeks: Photos, Recipe Links and Videos

The Melting Pot:  A look at the 
evolution of food in southwestern Pa.  
Part 6 -1 Macedonians - Greeks

What is Macedonia?  Macedonia is a modern day section of Greece but it was a geographical location that included northern Greece, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia which suffered under five centuries of Turkish domination and oppression.

This situation caused many to migrate to neighboring countries especially to the Balkans (Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo) and then to the United States and other countries.  Greece is also a Balkan country. 
(Macedonian photos below.) More under photos.

Southwestern PA is home to one of the largest Greek communities in the United States, with 40,000-60,000 people identifying themselves as having Greek ancestry. Most immigration occurred between 1890 and 1960 (most during and after WWII) but there is not really an accurate number. 

Upon arrival in the US the Greeks joined the Bulgarians and formed strong bonds. They still remain very active within the community, which is apparent in the region's numerous associations.  The Greeks were known as hard workers, intelligent and they assimilated well, however, they kept their identity. 

Greek cuisine began its spread from 5th century BC onward.  Greek food left its impression on Turkish and Italian dishes.  From 1453-1830 the Turks compelled the Greeks to put Turkish names on Greek dishes.  The Italians also used Italian names on some Greek dishes.  So it is easy to say that Greek cuisine is the basis of Italian and Turkish cuisine.


An interesting side note to explain the presence of Greek cuisine in Italy begins with Greek migrations in the eighth century BC,  you will find an old linguistic minority known as the Griko people who live now in southern Italy regions of Calabria (Reggio Calabria) and Puglia (Salento). Studies show that the Greek presence left a significant genetic impact on the general population.


SAUCES: Egg and lemon, white, tomato, olive oil and lemon, olive oil and vinegar, mayonnaise and garlic sauce.
SOUPS:  Kakavia (fish soup) introduced to Marseille, France by Greek travelers (and the French renamed it bouillabaisse!) and avgolemono soupa (fish stock with lemon and eggs). 
MAIN MEAT, POULTRY & FISH DISHES:  Beef Stefatho (beef braised with onions & herbs), Chicken Oregano (baked chicken marinated in butter, lemon & oregano), Souvlakia ((lamb shish kebab), Fish Plaki (fished baked with tomatoes, onions & seasonings) and Souzoukaia (meatballs).
PIES AND PASTA DISHES:  Tiropites (cheese pies), Spanakopita (spinach pie) and pastitsio (meat, macaroni & béchamel sauce).
RICE DISHES:  Dolmathes (grape leaves) and rice pilaf.
VEGETABLE DISHES:  Green beans with zucchini yahni (yahni is browned onions/tomatoes in olive oil), Moussaka (eggplant casserole) and Greek salad (lemon-oregano dressing served with vegetables, feta cheese and kalamata olives).
DESSERTS:  Baklava (honey-nut pastry), Diples (honey ripples), Galatoboureko (custard & honey filo dough), Kataife (nuts, shredded dough, honey), Karithopeta (walnut cakes with honey), Kourambiethes (Greek butter cookies with powdered sugar), Loukomades (honey puffs with syrup, cinnamon, walnuts) and Pasta Flora (baked short cake with apricot filling).
DRINKS:  Turkish coffee, tea, water, soft drinks, beer, Ouzo (anise flavored) , wine, Metaxa (brandy), Retsina (pine flavored) and Tsipouro (clear spicy hot liquid)

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