What do you get, when you cross Greek yogurt with tangy garlic, cool, fresh cucumbers, Italian pressed olive oil and a squeeze of lemon?
Why, you get the loveliest dish that can be eaten by itself, used to cover bread, chicken, vegetables… the list goes on.
When I visited Greece last month, I had the pleasure of tasting this traditional side dish at a little restaurant called Alexander the Great in Athens (it was actually named something in Greek hieroglyphics, but it said “Alexander the Great” underneath the Greek letters, so we’re going with that).
My family and I hesitated ordering the bread because we already ordered heavy meals, but we decided ‘Why not. We’re on vacation. The day wouldn’t be complete without stuffing ourselves to the point of uncomfortable-ness.’ But who knew the bread would be the star of the show? It came with hot peppers, hummus and tzatziki.
It’s cool. It’s tangy. It’s refreshing. And when you’re sitting in the 90 degree Grecian heat listening about Poseidon’s temple trying not to bake to a crisp chicken kabob, this is much needed.
So when I came home and finally adjusted back to the Eastern Standard time zone, I immediately went to the grocery store and bought all the necessary ingredients to make tzatziki. With no recipe, I eyeballed about ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt (I used Oikos), a ½ tablespoon of olive oil, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of lemon juice and ¼ of a cucumber. The result? Pure heaven.
Another one of my passions is traveling, and in the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to visit Europe twice. In June, my family flew to Rome and toured southern Italy and Greece for almost 2 weeks. It was fun, busy, relaxing and enlightening.
I’m sure I’m not the only one, but when I come back from an extended vacation, I kind of get into a funk. A case of the blues, if you will. To talk myself out of sounding like a spoiled brat, it’s hard to be far away from life’s pettiness for that long and then plunge back in. One minute you’re on a boat touring the island of Capri, the next minute you’re Swiffer wet-jetting your linoleum kitchen floor. You catch my drift?
So to prolong the ecstasy of my getaway, to take me back to that perfect day in Athens with my family and that feeling of simplicity and satisfaction, I am taking this great recipe, joining it with some grilled chicken, closing my eyes and imagining the Mediterranean Sea.
It doesn’t take something extravagant to bring you back to a great time. Today, I may be in Ohio, but my heart (and stomach) are across the Atlantic.