Greek cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best Greek recipe books to give you culinary inspiration

Time Out reviews the best cookbooks exploring the diversity of real Greek cuisine. We'll be updating this page with more Greek cookbook reviews shortly.

Vefa's Kitchen

Vefa Alexiadou, Phaidon, £24.95

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Books on Greek cookery are never top-sellers. Not even landmark books such as Andy Harris’s excellent ‘Taste of the Aegean’ (1992) or Theodore Kyriakou’s ‘Real Greek Food’ (2000) will shift as many copies as yet another book about Italian food to add the hundreds already out there.

So this hefty text from Phaidon – publisher of the much-hyped volume of Italian cooking, ‘Silver Spoon’ (2005) – shows they’re confident that this book will be a winner internationally. And they’re not wrong. Author Vefa Alexiadou is a well-known food writer and TV chef in her native Greece, and this is possibly the most authoritative English language guide to contemporary Greek food.

There are more than 700 recipes, collected, she claims, from all over Greece. It kicks off with an overview of the regionality of Greek food, then goes straight into the recipes. It’s all to the point – there is no ‘lifestyle’ element, just lots of tested, clear recipes.

The photography is equally simple and attractive, immediately evocative of the food of the real Greece (as opposed to the fodder you so often find in tourist restaurants). So you find dishes such as squid with nettles; stuffed courgette flower fritters; crayfish stew; and a large chapter on pies. Both the range of ingredients (from kid to wild greens) and the simple cooking methods are unmistakably Greek.

The glossary at the back is useful, but If you know the proper Greek names for dishes, the recipe index is frustrating as names are only given in English. For example, if you want find a recipe for galaktobureko – a popular cake-like dessert – you need to guess the crude English translation (‘custard pastry’) and find it that way. On the recipe page itself, the name is first given in English translation, then in Greek script, and then in transliteration from the Greek.

But the book’s a stunner, beautifully designed, and should give hours of page-flicking joy and cooking pleasure to anyone who appreciates real Greek food, and wants to recreate it back home.

Guy Dimond, Time Out London Issue 2032: July 30-August 5 2009

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