ONE OF MY sisters recently returned from a trip to Greece.
I bit back my jealousy to visit with her while she stayed with our mother before returning to her home in Alaska.
During the visit, I didn’t hear a whole lot about Greece — my sister has never been one to share much — but I was introduced to Greek food. Well, the closest we could get to it in Olympia, at any rate.
At a small café-style restaurant in our state’s capital, I had my first gyro. My sister ordered four of the Greek burrito-like dishes, but deconstructed so that each ingredient was in its own separate dish.
“This is sort of how they served it in Greece,” she said. “Except there, I was given one huge plate with all of the ingredients placed separately on it. They blended a bit in places, but for the most part they were separate.”
Although the instruction appeared to confuse the girl at the ordering counter, the restaurant came through and sent over a waitress with a tray laden with bowls of chopped-up chicken, feta cheese, lettuce, red onion, tomatoes and a sauce I’d never seen before.
“This is tzatziki sauce,” my sister told me. (I tried to repeat the word but mangled it horribly. According to the internet, it’s pronounced “sat-ZEE-key” or “cha-CHI-key” in Greece, if you care to know.)
“It has Greek yogurt, cucumbers and a few other things in it. Sometimes it has dill in it, other times it doesn’t. The Greek use this sauce on everything. You can even order it on its own so if your food doesn’t have enough sauce on it, you can add more.”
I took a cautious taste of the sauce and discovered that I liked it. I could definitely taste the dill, which is OK because I like dill, and although there’s vinegar in it, I could not taste that. Also a good thing, because I can’t stand vinegar.
And that’s how I first tried Greek food and realized it’s delicious.
As I ate and looked over the tray of remaining food, I also realized this was a dish I could probably recreate at home quite easily.
As soon as I had time to do so, I went searching online for recipes to recreate what I had tried. I was hoping to find one recipe with all the pieces included, but I found three recipes — one for the sauce, one for the chicken and one for the spices on the chicken — that each turned out to be fairly simple.
So, for the first time, I will do a dish with three separate recipes and include each here.
Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News. She is also a beginning baker and clumsy cook. She can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 560-50 or [email protected] dailynews.com.