A few posts ago we strolled in the centre of Athens where we visited the central market of the city. In that post we made a reference to the spice and herb shops of the area, most of which are located in a small road that crosses Athinas St. , Evripidou Rd.
Visiting these spice shops is a real pleasure to the senses. You can find them on both sides of the road, while the aroma of their goods fills the air with a mixture of cinnamon and lavender, clove and mountain tea.
Spices are used frequently in the Greek cuisine, the most popular ones of which are cinnamon, clove, allspice, cumin, nutmeg etc. The presence of many spices in our cuisine is owed to the fact that it has been strongly influenced by the Turkish and the Persian cuisine mainly and in general by cuisines of the Middle East. Thus the fact that many of our dishes and theirs are alike or reveal a close relation.
We use spices to give a stronger taste to our tomato sauces- there’s no Greek tomato sauce without cinnamon, clove and allspice (the basic spice trio) , to strengthen the taste of meat but also in our pastry in order to give extra aroma to syrups, doughs and creams.
Herbs are another key factor in our cuisine. We use them fresh, but we also use them dried. Furthermore we drink a lot of infusions and herbal teas made from herbs. The mountains and the countryside are full of them and the country’s climate is ideal for their presence in its flora.
Basil, oregano, thyme, sage, mint and laurel are just a few of the most popular herbs that we use in our cuisine. Fresh when in season and dried off season, in the form of dried you can find them in the shops of Evripidou Rd. Chamomile, linden, nettle and mountain tea- a herb with which we make a delicious infusion for the winter!- are a few of the herbs that we dry in order to make teas. These too can be found down at Evripidou Rd.
So next time you’re in town don’t forget to pass by Evripidou Rd and enjoy the colorful, fragrant goodies of its spice shops. And don’t hesitate to ask and find out more about how and where we use all those spices and herbs!