The Country Cooking of Greece, arriving this October. Chronicle Books. Favan beans are in season now in Greece and Greeks devour this ancient legume with gusto. Fava beans, called koukia in Greece, are one of the oldest, continuously savored foods of the Greek kitchen. But, they were also forbidden among the followers of the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras, who believed that they resembled embryos, and, hence, the souls of the dead. Could that have been a poetic way of dealing with favism, a condition that is not uncommon among Greeks, many of whom actually lack the enzyme necessary to properly digest these delicious, nutritious beans. Greeks cook them both in their fresh form and dried.
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Laconic Asparagus Soup is one of my favorite Country Cooking recipes, although this is not the picture that finally made it into the book (a better one did!). I call it laconic, both because of the elegant simplicity of this dish and also because it hails from Laconia, in the Peloponnese, where those austere, laconic Spartans are also from! Asparagus grows wild all over the Peloponnese, Crete and elsewhere in Greece in the spring and its long, thin stalks and refreshing, grassy flavor are one of the long-awaited harbingers of spring not he country table. You can replace it with store-bought, too, of course. Greece is one of the major growers and exporters of asparagus in Europe.
Roasted artichokes and potatoes. One of the many great artichoke dishes in the Country Cooking of Greece. This dish hails from the Peloponnese.