That is the day that Greeks began the uprising against the occupation by the Ottoman Turks. Today in Greece, it’s naturally a national holiday and in each town, village and city there will be parades, speeches and commemorative wreaths laid in honour of fallen soldiers.
For us Greeks here in the Diaspora, we are bound to Greece through our church, the associations (syllogi) that are the umbrella for families from the same town and more recently, through the internet and satellite television.
When I was younger, I had no appreciation of how lucky I was to be born of Greek extraction. My awakening as a Greek occurred through my early visits to Greece and it was cemented in my teenage years. I finally was able to appreciate the history, culture, beauty of the land, the food, the language and the people.
Greece has a population of about 11 million and about an equal amount of Greeks live abroad, throughout the rest of the world. Hellenism is an ideal. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a state of mind, it’s a feeling of being some how related to any Greek, no matter how far away from home you are and no matter where you bumped into your fellow Greek.
Greece exists beyond it’s Greek borders…South Africa, Europe, Australia, North & South America, in Asia. Everywhere there are Greeks, think of it as a beacon of light, a far far Greek islet still tied to this ancient land’s legacy.
The Greek National Anthem still gives me the shivers. Although I’m biased, I think it’s one of the most stirring anthems out there.
The lore behind the Greek flag is also very moving.
The stripes represent the number of the syllables in the phrase:
Eleftheria e Thanatos (Liberty or Death). Liberty or Death was the battle cry during the years of the Hellenic Revolution against the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.
Others claim that the stripes reflect the number of letters in the Greek word for Freedom (Eleftheria).
The cross in the top left of the flag represents our faith, Greek-Orthodox Christianity.The blue stripe represents the Greek seas and white represents the restless Greek tide, white from the glare of the relentless Greek sun.
I leave you with a Greek food custom, which is to eat cod fish on March 25th. The usual fare is Bakaliaro with Skordalia and I’ll show you that soon as well.
As a departure from the Bakaliaro, I tried my hand at Cod fish cakes. The cod fish cake is Greek, the sauce could be Greek but it comes from a Canadian food show called “This Food, That Wine”.
I tried their Mustard Artichoke Aioli which they served with some crab cakes but I found the cod to be a suitable partner to this tangy dip.
Please note: use the juice of just half a lemon, as the the Aioli is tangy enough from the mustard.
Cod Fish Cakes and Mustard Artichoke Aioli
500gr. dried salt cod fillets (boned)
4 medium potatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives (or scallions)
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil salt (if necessary)
- Place the salt cod in a bowl, cover will with cold water; stand overnight. Drain water and cover with water one to two more times to draw out all the salt from the fish.
- Drain cod, place in a saucepan, cover with cold water and simmer uncovered fro 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry with paper towel. Flake the cod with a fork and remove any bones that might have been missed.
- Meanwhile, boil your potatoes in salted water until tender, then mash.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375F. Lightly grease a baking pan.
- Combine the cod with the remaining ingredients in a bowl and form the mixture into balls, then flatten them out in to patties.
- Place the patties on the baking tray, brush with oil or treat with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes and then flip and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve warm or room temperature with Mustard Artichoke Aioli.
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