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So much for finishing NaBloPoMo strong. Last night, I started feeling an ache in my chest, and I woke up this morning with a full-blown, throat-searing, nose-plugging cold. Okay, so it’s just a cold. But I feel sorry for myself, unhappy, and weak. But with this post, we will have completed a post a day for a month! So at least there’s that.
My other comfort today has been Greek Mountain Tea, a recent purchase from the Greek Market. What a great discovery that place has been!
The Mountain Tea was dried but still green in its cellophane bag, and only $2.25. After sampling it today, I’m so glad I took it home with me. I thought I’d brew some up today because I read that it’s considered a cure-all in Greece, and Wikipedia claims that it “is traditionally used to fight the common cold, flu and allergies. Other traditional uses are for soothing respiratory problems, aiding digestion, strengthening the immune system, and calming mild anxiety. It is also used to relieve sinus congestion.”
Sounds like just what I need! I brewed it up and added a bit of honey as a sweetener. I was please to discover that the tea isn’t just healthy, but pleasant. It has a a lemony, thymey, chamomile-like aroma, and a mild flavour.
GREEK MOUNTAIN TEA
-a handful of Mountain tea, both leave and stems (1 to 2 tablespoons)
-one cup of boiling water
-honey to taste, if desired
Pour water over tea and allow to steep for about 10 minutes. The tea will have a light yellow/tan colour. I used my french press for this, because the herbs were buoyant and popped up above the level of the water. The french press let me keep them down.
I think I’ve made this clear before, and any of you who know me in the real world are well-aware, but in case you didn’t know, when it comes to food, I’m novelty-seeking to a fault. If there’s something I’ve never heard of on the menu, that’s what I’m going to try. I have a hard time going back to recipes. And if I find out about an ingredient I’ve never used before, I have to try it, preferably as soon as possible. Also, if you can make ice cream with it, I will probably neglect all other life responsibilities in order to own it. Immediately.
The sahlab (or salep) I bought is in drink mix form, and the instructions say to mix it with milk, bring it to a boil, then and rose or orange blossom water before “decorating” it with cinnamon and nuts for serving. I think I might make ice cream with it. Surprise.
I bought the mountain tea– which came dried but still green in a cello bag–because I read that it’s Greek grandma’s answer to every ailment, and I thought I’d test it out on my mild cold. That, and I’ve never tried it before.
The lady at the cash register didn’t blink at the sahlab (or salep) and mountain tea, but she did hesitate at the masticha. It is a glass jar with a thick white paste inside it. On the front is a picture of a glass full of water that has a spoon full of white goo resting in it.
The cashier looked up at me and asked “have you every tried this before?” I said no. She said “in Greece, they put a spoonful of it into water.” I said I would try that, and then added that I thought I might try to make ice cream with it. I am obviously obsessed with ice cream. She nodded politely, then told me “It’s a bit… um… goopy.” She’s right, it is… it’s really thick and sticky, almost chewy (which makes sense, as mastic was actually probably the world’s first chewing gum). Anyway, now I have this jar of… goop. And it tastes pretty good, very much like a plant, with a bit of a pinesol flavour (in a good way). We’ll see what’s going to happen with it.
Have you ever heard of mastic or salep, or mountain tea? Have you got any uses for them?
p.s. If you’re in Edmonton, you should check out Hellas Foods on 109 Ave, just off 124 St. They’ve got some great stuff!