Ikaria Book Review
Ikaria by Meni Valle, brings together the best and healthiest Greek recipes with an evocative travelogue about Ikaria, one of the world’s Blue Zone places.
Ikaria is one of the North-East Aegean Islands a few miles
from Samos, though about half its size. You can get there by ferry from Samos,
from Mykonos, or from Athens.
What Is A Blue Zone?
What is special about Ikaria is that it is one of only five
places in the world that has been designated a so-called Blue Zone. A Blue Zone
is an area where people live for longer than average, with about one person in
every three living into their 90s. There are many reasons for this, but a major
factor is diet. The only other Blue Zone place in the Mediterranean is Sardinia,
with the remainder are in Japan, California, and Costa Rica.
The Ikarian Table
Ikaria Book Review
What better place in Greece, then, to have a cookbook
devoted to traditional recipes from than Ikaria? This is more than just a
collection of recipes, though. It’s also a beautifully-written and photographed
handsome coffee-table book, though I expect my copy to soon be spattered with
olive oil stains as we try out some of the recipes.
The author of Ikaria, which is sub-titled Food and Life in
the Blue Zone, is Meni
Valle. Valle is an Australian Greek cookbook author and food
teacher, who also leads culinary tours to Greece, naturally including to
Ikaria. Some of her other books include My Greek Kitchen and My Mediterranean Kitchen.
The photography in the book is by Tessa Kiros, who specialises in food
and travel photography and whose father is a Greek Cypriot. She is also an
author, though, and her own books include Food from Many Greek Kitchens.
Baked Vegetables with Eggs
Travels in Ikaria
The author and photographer travel together to get the photos for the book, to collect the recipes, and to meet the people of Ikaria. They talk to women in their own kitchens about their traditional dishes, and to people they meet on the way about the secret to long life on Ikaria.
The author asks one man:
‘What do you think is the secret to longevity?’
‘Meni, here in Ikaria we do not try to add years to our life. Instead we add life to our years. We make the most of every day.’
The recipes in the book are largely vegetarian. This isn’t a
choice by the author, but it’s simply a reflection of the diet on Ikaria. Many
of their dishes are made from fresh seasonal ingredients, and though there is a
section on Seafood and Meat it has only ten recipes in it. The majority of
these are seafood recipes, as fresh seafood is also a big contributor to a
healthy diet, as we also know from studies of the Cretan Diet. It isn’t that red meat is ignored, but on Ikaria it’s an
occasional treat rather than something people eat several times a week.
As well as Seafood and Meat, the recipes are divided into Salads,
Accompaniments, Vegetables, Legumes, Pasta, Bread and Pies, and Sweets. As well
as the recipe itself, and the instructions, each recipe also has a little introduction.
Some of these make suggestions for variations on the recipe, some suggest what
goes well with the dish, while others are longer background stories about
either the dish or the ingredients.
All in all, this works whether you’re interested in Greek
recipes or wanting to read about Ikaria. If you’re interested in both, it’s a
Ikaria: Food and Life in the Blue Zone by Meni Valle is
published by Hardie Grant Books and is available from
their website. It’s also available from Amazon.
Other books pages
The very thorough A-Z Guide to Santorini by Tony Oswin is now in its 15th edition, a sure sign that the guidebook is both popular and kept up-to-date.
Heaven on Earth is a collection of 19 travel pieces about Greece by Mike Gerrard.
If planning a trip to Greece, what are the best books about Greece to read before you go, or to take with you, to give you a sense of place?
A Thing of Beauty by Peter Fiennes describes ‘Travels in Mythical and Modern Greece’ and places the Greek Gods in the context of modern-day Greece.
Greece Book Reviews on the Greece Travel Secrets website with reviews of the best guidebooks to Greece, the Greek Islands, Athens, Crete and elsewhere.
Taverna by the Sea is an account by Jennifer Barclay of her summer spent working in a taverna on Karpathos and a welcome new book of Greek travel writing.
Wild Abandon by Jennifer Barclay and published by Bradt Guides is A Journey to Deserted Places of the Dodecanese islands in Greece, including Rhodes and Kos.
The Summer of My Greek Taverna by Tom Stone is a memoir of his time on the Greek island of Patmos in the Dodecanese, running a restaurant.
The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.
Greece Travel Secrets reviews the photography book Monemvasia with extracts from works by Yiannis Ritsos and Nikos Kazantzakis.
Mermaid Singing by Charmian Clift is a fine example of 1950s travel writing about the Greek island of Kalymnos in the Dodecanese.
Margarita’s Olive Press is a modern gem of a book of Greek travel writing, in which the author falls in love with and renovates a property on Zakynthos.
The Lonely Planet guide to the Greek Islands is a thorough and helpful guide to all the Greek island groups, with Athens included.
The latest edition of the Lonely Planet travel guide to Greece is a comprehensive 750-page guidebook to the whole country.
Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.
Peel Me a Lotus by Charmian Clift is a Hydra travel writing classic, describing her family’s life on this tiny Greek island near Athens in the 1950s.
There are many great Greek poets, with two authors winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and names include Sappho, Cavafy, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis.
Fire on the Island is a romantic thriller novel by Timothy Jay Smith set on a fictionalised version of the town of Molyvos on the island of Lesbos.
Eurydice Street, A Place in Athens by Sofka Zinovieff is an honest account of what it’s like to move to Athens and live as a foreigner, learning Greek customs.
Greece Travel Secrets reviews the book Culture Trails by Lonely Planet, which has a section on Artistic Athens and 51 other perfect weekends for culture lovers.
The Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese is the best book on the Greek region which includes attractions like Mycenae, Epidavros, Olympia, Monemvasia and Nafplion.
The 2022 edition of the A-Z Travel Guide to Kos is the 15th edition of the best and most comprehensive guidebook to Kos in the Dodecanese islands of Greece.
A Rope of Vines by Brenda Chamberlain is an evocative memoir of the author’s time living on the Greek island of Hydra in the early 1960s.
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...
Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?
- Click on the HTML link code below.
- Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment,
your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
Greece welcomed three sculpture fragments from the Parthenon, which were returned following an intervention by Pope Francis by the Vatican Museums, during a reunification ceremony in Athens. The fragm…
Greeks will be going to the polls on May 21 after the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced the news on Tuesday.
Low-cost Dutch airline Transavia, part of the Air France-KLM group, this summer will operate direct flights between Paris and the Greek island of Kefalonia two times per week, according to the Greek N…
Greece is among the 10 most searched for destinations in Europe, according to travel intelligence provider ForwardKeys, as intra-European air seat capacity is set to recoup pre-pandemic levels this Ea…
The Archaeological Museum of Elefsina, one of the first archaeological museums in Greece, has reopened its doors to the public after completing maintenance and improvement works. The upgrade focused o…
The historic Lykavittos open-air theater atop Lycabettus Hill in central Athens, will be reopening to the public following a complete revamp, announced Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis this week. The po…
Thessaloniki “Makedonia” Airport has been named one of the top in Europe at the 2022 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards by the Airports Council International (ACI) World and travel technology compan…
Greece is among the top 20 countries for entrepreneurs and startups, according to a recent study conducted by Compare the Market, a UK-based insurance comparison website.
Demand from Poland is growing with 30 percent of Polish travelers having already booked their holidays to Greece, according to feedback collected by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) duri…
Demand for Airbnb-style rentals in Greece was the strongest in Europe last month despite historically being the least busy period of the year, marking a 60 percent increase compared to 2022, said anal…