Cold days are at our doorstep, so what about resorting to a traditional recipe that will keep us warm and healthy? This week, we are travelling to mostly Mediterranean countries to taste their different stewed vegetable dishes. Starting our trip in the West coast, we find pisto, a traditional dish of Spanish cuisine made with tomatoes, onions, courgettes and green and red peppers. As it tends to happen, the trick for this dish is the quality of the ingredients and that of the olive oil; let alone, the care and patience required to simmer all the vegetables.
Further north, we encounter the French version, ratatouille, usually prepared with some aubergine and black pepper too. In Hungary, they eat lecsó, which includes paprika, is accompanied with bread and is usually eaten out of a small bowl. Similarly, Polish adapted this dish to their cuisine and called it leczo.
Travelling back to the Mediterranean countries, our Italian friends offer us a wide range of name variations: in the South, it is called ciambotta and in the Italian region of Marche, they would call it fricchiò. However, if we want to taste this dish in any part of the country, we should ask for verdure miste al forno or verdure miste in padella depending if it is cooked in the oven or in a pan.
Whereas in both Spain and Italy, the recipe is very simple, in Greece, the briam usually includes garlic, vinegar, okra or some herbs such as basil, mint or parsley.
Lastly, on the other side of the Aegean Sea, we will find this dish under the name of shakshuka (“all shaken up”). However, the Middle Eastern version differs from the European ones inasmuch as eggs and spices are an indispensable part of it. Eggs are added on top so that the runny yolks poach in the spicy mixture, and although there are numerous variations, chili, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper are the most often used spices. Likewise, another surprising difference is that shakshuka is a traditional Middle East breakfast! Obviously, we could also find it sharing the table with some hummus, pitas and salad in a dinner party.
Following this comprehensive overview, the odds are that you are eager to find out where this dish comes from. Well, good luck with your research because everybody wants to claim its authorship. What seems certain is that it is a Mediterranean dish of Arabic popular origin. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, all the heated arguments about its origins are trivial when it comes to sharing it, inasmuch as everyone will agree on how delicious it is.
Was your country’s variety mentioned? Do you believe that your granny’s version is unbeaten? If you want to share any ideas or preparation suggestions, please, let us know by posting a comment down below and do not forget to share this article on social media if you have enjoyed the reading!
Written by Carmela Blanco Pérez
She was born in Madrid (Spain) the year in which the Treaty of Maastricht on European Union was signed. She holds a BA in Translation and Interpreting from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and a MA in Conference Interpreting from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She gained experience as a translator at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, working with English and French. Prior to coming to Luxembourg, she worked as a freelance translator and a conference interpreter at the UN in Geneva and in a range of conferences, most of which were in the medical field. She is also gifted at playing the piano and enjoys a wide range of sports.
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