It is surprising to me that any European country is having economic problems given that most people I know are there spending their hard (in some cases) earned dollars. My wife will be leaving behind many a euro along her trails through Spain and Germany, my good friend’s daughter is in Italy and Greece on a school tour for two weeks, I have several friends in Spain for the film music festival there – all of whom are well compensated for their musical contributions to pop culture and will no doubt be investing in many a tapa and rioja – and I have made three separate hotel and restaurant recommendations for Paris in the last week. Look out Europe, the Americans are coming.
I am very happy for all of my friends and family abroad this summer. Europe is a fascinating and delicious place to visit. The food is unadulterated, with some countries having strict laws about the use of preservatives, antibiotics and even the way the beer is brewed (You gotta love the Germans). As a side note, there is a wonderful new short on the use of antibiotics in meat that you should see. It’s made by the same director as Food, Inc. and the music is by my friend Mark Adler.
One of the greatest aspects of Europe is slowly disappearing. The individual cultures, food, wine, etc. are slowly starting to give way to international interests. The McDonalds syndrome, if you will. I remember crying when I saw a Starbucks on the Portobello Road in London. Fortunately, many Eastern European countries and rural areas of the rest of Europe are not so quick to give up their heritage and therefore the food and other cultural stalwarts are still largely in tact. And these differences are what make the “Mediterranean Diet” a joke. Have you had a look at the Med on a map lately. There are at least 20 countries on the Med from the middle east to the south of France. With the possible exception of some similar fish, their diets, cultures and habits are as different as Alabama and Oregon.
There are really vague similarities in countries around the Med. One is that they all have some culinary way of dealing with the heat. Some foods are hot and spicy; the Croatians (actually on the Adriatic, but close) eat hot soup in the middle of a hot, summer day; and many eat refreshing, raw vegetables. And that makes a beautiful segue into our recipe for the day.
Salad for Two
- 1 Head of Romaine, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 oz. Feta Cheese
- 1 Red Pepper, thinly sliced and halved
- 1 Small Red Onion, thinly sliced and halved
- Small Bunch Radishes, sliced
- 1 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and halved
- 3-4 Ripe Tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 Cucumber, cut into bite size pieces
- Handful Italian Parsley, rough chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper
- Chef’s Knife
- Salad Bowl
- Toss the lettuce in the bowl and salt it.
- Add all the rest of the vegetables.
- Crumble the cheese over top. You may want more or less.
- Dress with a good amount of olive oil, a light drizzle of red wine vinegar and a squeeze of lemon.
- Add some freshly ground black pepper.
- Toss with hands and serve immediately.