Having reserved for myself the prerogative of reflecting upon Greek Food as a Subject on this blog, I wish to briefly examine the matter of Presentation. This discussion is exploratory and not meant to offend nor excite, so please take it for what it is: a prolegomenon about matters which I deem interesting and that pertain to Greek Food & Gastronomy.
Why is it that some people believe that Indian food can (and must) look like Indian food, but Greek food has to look like some kind of variation on a
nouveau cuisine theme? As I am an essentialist by nature, and as objective as I would like to be about this topic, I cannot help but suppress a wry smile at the very thought… California
So, it is with some amusement that I shake my head whenever I read or hear about the “new Greek cuisine”; as if we were already so overly familiar with the “old Greek cuisine” that we needed to re-interpret and re-present an entire culture of food as something which it is not. I wonder if this sort of thinking is not some kind of a spin-off symptom from the perverted realm of Political Correctness, as odd as that may sound… The fact is, I don’t rightly know where it originates, and I have a difficult time understanding the motivation behind such an attitude, unless it is simply rooted in some deep-seated sense of inadequacy or need for attention.
During a recent discussion of this very topic, somebody actually asked me if I thought a traditional Greek dish like Moussaka was something one could present to the Queen of England! As amusing as I thought the question to be at the time, I had to provide an answer, so I responded in the affirmative and went on to display the photo of the slice of moussaka which I used to head up this posting.
“Friend,” I said to them, “if the Q of E had that slice of my moussaka parked in front of her, she would make quick work of passing it down her gullet, rest assured!” (And I do stand by that statement, so if any of you have any pull at Court please do let Her Majesty know that I would be happy to back up my words with actions…)
As can be plainly seen in the picture above, there is nothing, not even a sprinkle of shredded parsley on that plate, except for the solitary piece of moussaka. Is it not aesthetically pleasing enough as it is? Do I really need to do it differently? What would have been gained if I were to have dressed the dish up beyond all recognition? Perhaps there is someone out there in the wide world who could answer these questions and settle my curiosity; though I do not think that they will ever be able to completely convince me that Greek food needs to be something other than it is: rustic, unpretentious, and wholesomely flavourful.