Thursday, June 17, 2010

Greece - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Though they may be in the middle of a financial crisis, Greece certainly has a history and culture that is second to none.  They suffered a 0-2 defeat at the hands of South Korea in their first match of the 2010 World Cup so today they'll be looking to rebound against Nigeria.  As for Bite and Booze, we'll be looking at one of Greece's most renowned agricultural products, olives, and a beverage that Greeks guzzle with glee, ouzo.

Greek Olives come in multiple varieties and are used in many ways.  Most commonly, olives are turned in to olive oil or they are served as table olives, an appetizer and snack that is very popular in Greece.  One of the major types of olives is the Konservolia.  This olive makes up about 80% of the Greek table olive production.  They are usually slightly larger olives that are oval in shape and preserved in brine.  They are known by regional names when they come from different areas of the country, but in general they are the same type of olive.  Another variety is the Nychati of Kalamata, which is a black olive that is also very important to Greek olive industry.  Other popular varieties include the Chalkidiki, Megaritiki, and Kothreiki.

Ouzo traces its roots back to Byzantine (later to be known as Ottoman, then Turkish) origins, dating back to the 1600s. It is usually produced from a pure white alcohol (a lot of it is 100% ethyl alcohol from raisins) that has undergone two distillation processes.  Once the alcohol is distilled, it is then infused with herbs. The most predominant herb is anise, however ouzo can also contain licorice, mint, wintergreen, fennel, and hazelnut. The most popular (and generally considered best) ouzo comes from Lesvos, an island in the East Aegean Sea. Ouzo can be quite strong with alcohol contents reaching as high as 45%.  Still, most people shoot it straight, put a couple cubes of ice in it, or slightly cut it with some water.

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For a few notes on Greek beer, check out the BR Beer Scene!

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