Honey, Olives, OctopusAdventures at the Greek Table



Combining the best of memoir, travel literature, and food writing, Christopher Bakken delves into one of the most underappreciated cuisines in Europe in this rollicking celebration of the Greek table.

Combining the best of memoir, travel literature, and food writing, Christopher Bakken delves into one of the most under-appreciated cuisines in Europe in this rollicking celebration of the Greek table. He explores the traditions and history behind eight elements of Greek cuisine—olives, bread, fish, cheese, beans, wine, meat, and honey—and journeys through the country searching for the best examples of each. He picks olives on Thasos, bakes bread on Crete, eats thyme honey from Kythira with one of Greece’s greatest poets, and learns why Naxos is the best place for cheese in the Cyclades. Working with local cooks and artisans, he offers an intimate look at traditional village life, while honoring the conversations, friendships, and leisurely ceremonies of dining around which Hellenic culture has revolved for thousands of years. A hymn to slow food and to seasonal and sustainable cuisine, Honey, Olives, Octopus is a lyrical celebration of Greece, where such concepts have always been a simple part of living and eating well.

Christopher Bakken is Associate Professor of English at Allegheny College. He is the author of Goat Funeral and After Greece. His poems, essays, and translations have been published widely in U.S. and in Europe.

“Christopher Bakken celebrates Greek food in the Greek style, sharing it with those he loves at joyous tables filled with overflowing trays of mezedes, carafes of wine, and cloudy glasses of ouzo. But he doesn’t just look at the way the food is prepared or harvested—or eaten—he also immerses himself in the process and introduces us to the friends he makes along the way. This is food writing that goes beyond the simple pleasure of eating—Honey, Olives, Octopus illuminates something about what it means to be alive.”

Natalie Bakopoulos, author of The Green Shore

 
“I have never been to Greece, or at least I hadn’t until I read Christopher Bakken’s poetic story of food and life on its islands. The book sings with Aegean beauty: the cobalt blue water, stoic olive groves, pine sap, and chicory I’d always dreamed I would find there. It is an absolute pleasure to take the journey with him in these pages.”

Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace