Looking for Hórta

Yesterday I visited the fruit and vegetable markets in Omonia Square, downtown Athens. It was a bit underwhelming really – I have seen much better markets in my overseas travels. However, as is often the case, I found a few gems which made the journey all the more worthwhile.

Hórta is Greek for wild greens. The gathering of Hórta is done during the spring and winter months, and is a major part of Greek countryside life.

In the Greek countryside, many of the locals can be seen in the hills, gathering great bunches of these wild greens. On clear dry days, they will wind their way down from higher ground, clutching simple plastic bags, which are bulging with fresh wild greens ready for immediate consumption.

At the markets I noticed many green leafy vegetables that were very unfamilar. This one, for instance, (below) reminded me, at least appearance wise, of coriander. I tasted some, and I immediately knew it was something else. But what?

Kafkalíthra:

In fact it is called Kafkalíthra here is Greece, and is a wild green, botanically known as Tordylium apulum.

There are over sixty varieties of edible plants growing in the Greek countryside and there are numerous ways in which to prepare them. They are usually boiled for about 20 minutes and served hot or cold, with olive oil and lemon juice.

Here’s another mystery vegetable. There were a few varieties of this dotted around the markets, some with this reddish hue and some without.

alivarvara:

When I got home from the markets I asked my hosts to translate (or actually ‘transliterate’) the names on the price tags, and I was able to track them down via the internet. An amazing research tool indeed!

This says Alivarvara Lakonias. Alivarvara is another wild Greek green, and apparently this one is from the Lakonia province, in Greece’s southern Peloponnisos region. And at 4 Euro a kilo, someone’s making a big profit from wild greens!

Here’s a short list of a few more ‘Hórta’ and their English translations:

Agriomároulo – Dandelion
Vléeta – Pigweed
Ágria Sparángia – Wild asparagus
Radhíki Ágrio – Bitter Chicory
Radhíki tis Thálassas – Spiny Chicory
Máratho – Fennel
Andrákla – Purslane

All of these plants have therapeutic qualities and are immensely beneficial to the stomach and the digestive system.

The healing herb and the original fragrances of the earth are manifestations of God the Father, made available via Mother Nature, who provides amply for Her children. We bow to Them with respect.
Posted by Kurma on 15/1/07; 12:01:13 AM

Life and Travel

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