Some Ancient Greek recipes using olive oil

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Most people know the story of Adam and Eve and the apple in the mythical Garden of Eden. But not as many know that the olive has a history almost as old as civilization. Carbon-dating has shown that a Spanish olive seed is 8,000 years old.

It is said that Noah’s Ark brought back an olive branch from Mount Arafat; that Athens got its name from Athena, who won a contest among the gods for the honour of naming the city by striking the ground and bringing forth the olive tree; and that a sacred olive tree was planted at the Acropolis to honour the occasion.

Ancient Greeks used olive oil in salads and also anointed their bodies with the oil. It was also the basis for almost all Greek cuisine.

According to former ambassador Eleftherios Anghelopoulos, who retired from his posting in Ottawa in May 2014, there is evidence the olive tree was first cultivated in Neolithic Crete. The huge storage jars used back then may still be seen at Knossos. An olive grower himself, Anghelopoulos said during a talk at this year’s Ottawa Travel and Vacation Show that Greeks attribute longevity not only to olive oil but to moderation in everything they do.

Anghelopoulos suggests looking for olive oil in a dark glass bottle with an expiry date. It should be extra virgin, possibly like celebrity chef Christine Cushings’s “Bold” which is made from Kalamata olives by cold extraction. This choice is perfect for salads.

Following are some recipes using olive oil.

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