An eye on tradition: “Clean Monday” / Καθαρά Δευτέρα

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Καθαρά Δευτέρα σήμερα ή αλλιώς Κούλουμα ή αλλιώς η πρώτη μέρα της Σαρακοστής! Όπως και να λέγεται, αυτή η μέρα είναι άρρηκτα συνδεδεμένη με όλα αυτά τα νηστίσιμα και πεντανόστιμα καλούδια που γεμίζουν το τραπέζι μας, με την υπέροχη ταραμοσαλάτα πάνω στη φρέσκια λαγάνα να πρωτοστατεί – το καλύτερό μου, το περιγράφω και μου τρέχουν τα σάλια! – καθώς και το πέταγμα του χαρταετού, που περιμένουν πώς και πώς μικροί και μεγάλοι!

Αυτή η μέρα πήρε λέει το όνομά της από το γεγονός ότι μιας και αρχίζει επίσημα η νηστεία της Σαρακοστής, καλούμαστε να “καθαρίσουμε” το σώμα και το πνεύμα μας από κακές συνήθειες και κραιπάλες. Η νηστεία υποτίθεται ότι έχει αρχίσει εδώ και μια βδομάδα αφού την Κυριακή της αποκριάς, δηλαδή την Κυριακή αμέσως μετά την Τσικνοπέμπτη, σταματάμε να τρώμε κρέας και την Κυριακή πριν την Καθαρά Δευτέρα, χτες δηλαδή, σταματάμε και την κατανάλωση γαλακτοκομικών.

Εντάξει, και κάπου εδώ γελάμε! Δεν ξέρω γιατί, αλλά έχω την εντύπωση ότι η σημερινή είναι από τις μεγαλύτερες κραιπάλες και το σημερινό γεύμα μόνο λιτό και απέριττο δεν τον λες! Ίσα ίσα που η νηστεία κατά κάποιο τρόπο σου προκαλεί ένα άγχος ότι δεν θα χορτάσεις γιατί θα φας “ελαφριά”… και τρως τα διπλά! Και τι δεν έχει αυτή η μέρα, λαγάνες, ταραμοσαλάτες, χαλβά, ελιές, θαλασσινά, οστρακοειδή, κι άλλη λαγάνα, κι άλλη ταραμοσαλάτα, έλα εντάξει ορκίζομαι τελευταία μπουκιά! Και προφανώς έχει πολλές “τελευταίες” μπουκιές σήμερα!

Το μενού είχε πατατοσαλάτα, καλαμαράκια κρασάτα, γαρίδες σαγανάκι – εντάξει δεν είναι νηστίσιμο, το έφαγα το τυράκι μου –  φάβα και φυσικά ταραμοσαλάτα! Θα μοιραστώ μαζί σου τις συνταγές πολύ σύντομα!

Ελπίζω να πέρασες και να έφαγες καλά! Και του χρόνου! 🙂

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Today in Greece we celebrate Clean Monday or Coulouma or else the first day of the great Lent according to the Greek orthodox church. It is also a public holiday in Greece.

No matter how we call it, this day is linked with all these delicious traditional plates that we use to enjoy, lagana bread being one of these. This bread is made only once a year, on this particular day, and is sold by all bakeries! It is flat and about 45 cm long, with rounded corners and the traditional recipe wants is to be unleavened. It is usually combined with taramasalata. Believe me, it’s so good!

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Homemade lagana bread

Families use to spend this day flying a paper kite – handmade or not – a tradition that all kids love. They use to wear their carnival costume for the last time as the majority of the Carnival’s events are complete by the night before.

This day took its name from the fact that, as it’s the first day of the great Lent, people are meant to “clean” their body and soul leaving behind all bad habits, consuming meat and dairy products being one of these. Tradition wants Greeks to stop consuming meat one week before Clean Monday, on Sunday just after Tsiknopempti Thursday. Also, they stop consuming dairy products the night before Clean Monday, that is yesterday, or at least this is what Greeks used to do years ago and maybe only older people still follow these traditions in a literal way.

Nowadays, a lot of events are organised in many areas throughout the country for people to celebrate, to enjoy traditional food and for kids to fly their kites. Despite the fact that the menu has to be austere and fasting, I think people eat a lot today! The menu contains, as I said, taramasalata and lagana bread, olives, fava salad (split peas, tastes like hummus), seafood, shellfish and halva (traditional dessert) among others. And more taramasalata, and more lagana bread, and some more, o-key o-key, last bite I swear! And there are many “last bites”!

The unfortunate thing in London is that, although you can find pretty much all the ingredients you need for this day, mostly in Greek shops, lagana bread is more difficult to find. I tried to bake myself few years ago, the result was really good, but this year I didn’t do so it’s the only thing that is missing from the table 😦

However, I prepared a lot of traditional plates to celebrate at home away from home, such as potato salad with olives, calamari in a wine sauce, shrimps saganaki -o-key this one may not be fasting but I prefer it with feta cheese- fava salad and tarama salad- well, this one I didn’t make myself, I bought it from the supermarket!

Don’t forget that I didn’t have the day off like people in Greece! I have to admit, my Greek friends and I tried really hard not to leave our dirty thoughts -you know, taking the day off-sick and go and celebrate-to dominate ourselves! After all, we are professionals 😉

Everything was delicious! I will share the recipes with you soon!

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I aim to express my passion about food sharing my day-to-day homemade recipes inspired both by Greek/Mediterranean cuisine and European influence. My life well served on a plate via my ... 'nutri calendar', a food diary which is meant to inspire you!

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