HESTIA was the virgin goddess of the hearth (both private and municipal) and the home. As the goddess of the family hearth she also presided over the cooking of bread and the preparation of the family meal. Hestia was also the goddess of the sacrificial flame and received a share of every sacrifice to the gods. The cooking of the communal feast of sacrificial meat was naturally a part of her domain.
In myth Hestia was the first born child of Kronos and Rhea who was swallowed by her father at birth. Zeus later forced the old Titan to disgorge Hestia and her siblings. As the first to be swallowed she was also the last to be disgorged, and so was named as both the eldest and youngest of the six Kronides. When the gods Apollon and Poseidon sought for her hand in marriage, Hestia refused and asked Zeus to let her remain an eternal virgin. He agreed and she took her place at his royal hearth.
Hestia was depicted in Athenian vase painting as a modestly veiled woman sometimes holding a flowered branch. In classical sculpture she was also veiled, with a kettle as her attribute. Continue reading →
In Ancient Greece, many culinary texts have been written but only a few have survived throughout the centuries. The most famous as well as the most valuable of all is “the Deipnosophistae” which means “Gastronomers discussing on various matters, during dinner” and consists of fifteen books written by Atheneaus of Naucratis, a Greek scholar that lived from 170 to 240 A.D., mostly in Alexandria. Unfortunately, from the first three only fragments and quotations exist. These books are a treatise on all aspects of ancient life. Athenaeus has compiled literary works from Ancient Greek writers and cooks and synthesized them in an anthology that is still modern, timely and easy to read, today. They contain detailed notes on culinary preparation and ingestion of food from the times of Homer (around 800B.C.) and forward, as well as anecdotes, poems and citations from philosophers and play-writers.
Cabbage in Ancient Greece was not eaten as a vegetable. It was used as a remedy for various illnesses. Since it is packed with vitamin C and other phytonutrients it fights free radicals, cholesterol, asthma, even cancer of the large intestine, breast cancer and prostate.
Modern Greeks eat cabbage very often, especially in winter, in the form of lahanodolmades(minced meat wrapped in boiled cabbage leaves with an egg and lemon sauce) and cabbage salads usually with an oil and lemon dressing. This is my version of a cabbage salad, modern and more elaborate than the version above. The appropriate cabbage for a salad must feel heavy for its size with bright leaves. Continue reading →