Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Day In Ancient Greece

You wake up, then go to work, and then come home where you eat dinner (preferably Mediterranean food...OPA!), and then go to sleep, right? Well, in ancient Greece, they spent their time in a slightly different way, but some of their habits are still relevant for a good majority of people in today’s society.

Most men in ancient Greece were being trained for military purposes, or discussing politics, but if that was not the case then they went to the Theatre, which often involved current politics and gods in some form, so that way they could just watch it instead of talk about it to everyone else.

Women were normally not allowed to watch theatre or perform at the theatre, so male actors played the women roles. The lives of women in Ancient Greece were closely tied to domestic work, spinning, weaving and other domestic duties, so they were not involved in public life or in politics, and their lives were normally quite confined to the house although one public duty was acting as a priestess at a temple.

The children, however, were much like the children of today. Because they could not do domestic chores, or understand politics or theatre, they usually used up their time by playing with toys and games.

In Greece at this time, and even still today, most all people made their living by farming, and what was convenient was that often the citizens would have land around their homes which they could use to provide their income (and to provide us with yummy Greek food today!). The downside, though, is that the Greek landscape was hard to farm.

Grapes were usually picked around September and either kept for eating or made into wine, and olives were either picked by hand or knocked out of the trees with wooden sticks. Olives especially were an important product to the Greeks because it had so many uses including; cooking, lighting, beauty products and it could also be used for athletic purposes (and it also makes olive oil which is used in so many of Zizikis great Dallas Greek dishes!).

The Ancient Greeks usually ate bread and porridge with food such as cheese, vegetables, fish, eggs and fruit. At Zizikis, though, there are so many more options for any person living in the modern day world who wants some great Mediterranean food fit for an ancient Greek himself!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Greek Orthodox Easter Celebrations

Easter is the most sacred observance in the Greek Orthodox faith, and the preparations and customs remain some of the most traditional in modern Greek life.

Easter for the Greeks, though, is not exclusive to one day. For the Greeks, Easter is a weeklong holiday that is filled with many traditions, and (of course...) GREEK FOOD! Some of the most important days, though, are those that are the closest to Easter Sunday itself.

Holy Thursday, also known as Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, is the feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that honors the Last Supper of Christ with the Apostles. To begin the Easter preparations, on Holy Thursday the customary Easter bread, tsoureki, is baked, and eggs are dyed red (red is the color of life as well as a representation of the blood of Christ).

Good Friday is also known as Holy Friday or Great Friday and is used to observe the crucifixion and death of Christ at Calvary, and is seen as the holiest day of Holy Week. This day is one of mourning, not of work (including cooking...), and is also the only day during the year when the Divine Liturgy is not read. Many devout do not cook on Holy Friday, but if they do, traditional foods are simple, perhaps boiled in water (no oil) and seasoned with vinegar - like beans - or thin soups like tahinosoupa, a soup made with tahini.

On Great and Holy Saturday the Orthodox Church honors the burial of Christ. It is the day between the Crucifixion of the Lord and His Resurrection. On the morning of Holy Saturday, preparations begin for the next day’s Easter feast. Dishes that can be prepared in advance are made, and the traditional mayiritsa soup is prepared, which will be eaten after the midnight service, to "break the fast". Once home from the sight of the Eternal Flame being passed from person to person in the church courtyard, everyone gathers around the table for a traditional meal to main attraction of the day, which is whole roasted lamb or goat (kid) to represent the Lamb of God, and with traditional accompaniments and all the trimmings too! Great Greek wines, ouzo, and other drinks are everywhere, and preparations for the meal turn into festive celebrations even before the eating begins. These high-spirited gatherings often last long into the night.

If on Easter Day, though, you are not in Greece, or (for some weird reason), you are, in fact - not Greek, then join us at all three Zizikis Restaurants for a Special Easter Brunch featuring complimentary mimosas or champagne. Our regular dinner menu will be offered for dinner on Easter, as well. OPA!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring - The Presence of Persephone

Persephone must be free, because Spring is in full swing. 

Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and everyone, gods and mortals alike, worked hard to keep Demeter happy, because the moment she became sad or mad, the crops could die, and what made her happiest was enjoying the company of her daughter, Persephone.

One day, though, Persephone, as she was picking flowers, was kidnapped by Hades (who was enamored with Persephone the moment he saw her) and taken into the darkest depths of the underworld.

Locked in a room in the Hall of Hades she refused to eat. Legend said if you ate anything in Hades, you could never leave. She did not know if the legend was true, but she did not want to risk it in case someone came to rescue her. After a while, like any good Greek girl, Persephone was starting to get hungry for her native Mediterranean food. (She'd have probably enjoyed getting out for a evening cocktail and a mezze or two at Ziziki's Taverna!)

Nearly a week went by, but finally, unable to stand her hunger, Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds. Sadly, she would now have to live in the Underworld forever.

Then Zeus, worried, sent Hermes, his youngest son, the messenger, to make a deal with Hades. Even as a baby, Hermes was great at making deals. (Everyone knew that!) So, When Hermes heard that Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, he had to think quickly.  The deal he made with Hades was that if Persephone would marry Hades, she would live as queen of the underworld for six months out of the year. However, each spring, Persephone would return and live on earth for the other six months of the year. Everyone agreed to the plan.

So now, each Spring, Demeter makes sure all the flowers bloom in welcome when her daughter, Queen of the Underworld, returns to her. Each Fall, when Persephone returns to Hades, Demeter cries, and lets all the crops die until Spring, when the cycle starts again.

We feel pretty lucky for these seasons, especially since Spring is when we get all of our fresh ingredients for our Greek cuisine. Like tomatoes – which can be used as roma tomatoes to go with your Caprese Salad or your Mediterranean Bread, and potatoes – which are an especially good side when roasted and served as a side dish, just like the seasoned rice, with yummy sauces and other Springtime specialties at all Zizikis Restaurants. OPA!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Eating Out With The Kids

Eating out at a Dallas restaurant is always a fun and exciting idea, until one realizes that they have little children who are – well – picky, to say the least.

Eating out for a family doesn’t always have to mean the nearest fast-food joint, though.

At Zizikis award-winning Greek restaurants - we have a kid’s menu that brings food that kids are traditionally used to eating, and puts a Greek twist on it.

Instead of the same old grilled cheese sandwich, why not try our grilled cheese pita that consists of handmade pita broiled with two cheeses and served with Ziziki sauce? Or how about having chicken tenders with roasted potatoes instead of ordinary French fries? Or why not try something a little different with our chicken or lamb skewer that’s served with pita, Ziziki sauce & roasted potatoes?

At Zizikis, we have everything to keep your children satisfied, and you!  If they’re scared of trying something traditionally Greek, like Mousaka, then there is always Pizza and Chicken to keep them satiated and happy.