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Summer

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Scrambled Eggs With Tomatoes (strapatsada)

Scrambled Eggs With Tomatoes (strapatsada)

Roast Lamb With Potatos And Garlic

Roast Lamb With Potatos And Garlic

Okra Casserole -Bamies

Okra Casserole

( Bamies )

Imam Baildi

Imam Baildi

Summer is the most glorious of seasons:

The season of the Greek islands; of standing on island quays to watch fishing boats unload their catch; of living outdoors, even if that only means a small balcony in a block of flats in hot, noisy, cosmopolitan Athens.

Greek summers are defined for me firstly by the smell of jasmine and secondly by lunches under the silvery foliage of the olive trees by a dazzling white beach.

When dusk descends, it is time for barbecues. This is the time for grilled souvlaki - tender cubes of pork or Iamb immersed in garlic marinades, then skewered and cooked over the coals.

Chicken souvlaki is equally tasty, especially when served with the tapered green peppers that are typical of the island, and sprinkled with aromatic oregano before being grilled. Most delicious of all, perhaps, are the plump, white cubes of swordfish souvlaki.

Summer injects a joyful and playful character into the Greek kitchen.

Colorful vegetables acquire a special importance, particularly on the lunch table. Simple lunches, such as strapatsatha - fresh tomatoes cooked with scrambled eggs acquire an incomparable flavour as they blend the heat of the sun with the sweetness of summer. This is the season of the  purple aubergine, which can transform the most ordinary vegetable dish into a veritable feast.

Anyone who visits Greece in summer should plan a visit to a local baker at lunchtime to smell the magnificent aroma of whatever is being cooked that day.

Traditionally, in the past years Greek homes did not have ovens, so meals were prepared in large, round aluminum containers called tapsia, which were taken to the local baker in the morning to be baked in ovens that were still hot after the day's bread-making.

This practical solution had another advantage, too, in that it ensured that while the bakery grew hot, the village houses stayed cool. Even today, when almost every home possesses an electric oven, on extremely hot summer days it is still possible to witness the parade of the tapsia along streets and paths to the local baker.

Summer brings one of the most important religious days in the Greek Orthodox Church Assumption, on 15 August, which commemorates the ascension of the Virgin Mary into heaven. A glittering occasion on the Greek islands, it is preceded by two weeks of fasting.

The day itself is celebrated with a string of festivities. After attending the morning liturgy, most people will sit down to a special lunch. On the table will be roast Iamb with potatoes and garlic, roast kid or the mouthwatering yiouvetsi (baked Iamb with tomatoes, garlic and pasta).

After the long days of fasting, everyone will eat well — and why not? Summer is, after all, the season of excess. Indulgence is the order of the day. Colorful vegetables and richly scented fresh herbs — these are the ingredients that make summer dishes such as barbecued souvlaki so special.

In Greek summer cooking, without a doubt, the protagonists are vegetables. From unevenly shaped, sugary tomatoes to regal aubergines, and from exotic okra to the various varieties of fresh green beans, they constitute the light character of Greek cuisine in summer.