While in Greece, I discovered the ubiquitous olive oils and oregano to be far superior to what I have had in Canada. The difference is actually astounding. Olive oil we’ll leave for another post, but for now, let me tell you about the oregano: It’s just…. amazing!
It’s believed that oregano was first used by the ancient Greeks and they thought highly of its medicinal properties. The word oregano can be translated as “brightness of the mountains” or perhaps “radiance of the mountains.” Some suggest a translation of “joy of the mountains” but my native Greek speaking friend says that it is more closely related to light than joy. But a light that we probably don’t have a direct translation to, in English. A fullness of light, perhaps. Divine light.
Indeed, true Greek oregano is divine, compared to what we have in North America. I’ve read in several places that what we get is related to oregano but it is actually a marjoram. In Greece, oregano is used on almost everything – both cooked foods and uncooked like salads. One of the favourite things for me was breaking apart big chunks of feta cheese that had olive oil drizzled over it and generous amounts of oregano sprinkled on top. Mmmm. So good!
When you open a package of Greek oregano and smell it, the scent is strong and bold. It hits the nose and lingers there, just as the taste does on your tongue. In addition, it is not as bitter tasting as the oregano that is commonly available here.
I brought back oregano for personal use from Greece – quite a bit of it actually, but have ended up giving samples to others. Every person so far that has tried has exclaimed almost immediately, “Ian, this amazing!” The reaction from others has motivated the creation a new business – a partnership called “KirIan.”
When you taste true genuine Greek oregano, you realize you are tasting something quite different than what we purchase here. I purchased some from Bulk Barn – just to compare, and really, there is no comparison. I’m not even sure that what Bulk Barn sells as “oregano” is even common marjoram. There is very little scent, and the taste is bland, almost nothing really, until a bitterness sets in on the tongue. If you take a small amount of Greek oregano and chew it, the taste lingers a good long time, and the essential oils can even leave a bit of “heat” – not in hot spicy way, but in a way you know you’ve just chewed on some really really good oregano!
Many people claim that food in Greece tastes different. Better. Even when trying to replicate a dish using the very same recipe tastes different and not as good here as it does in Greece. My theory is that a big reason for this is both the oregano and quality of olive oil that is available in Greece.
Speaking of recipes, if you click here, you can download some traditional Greek recipes created by my partner! You’ll enjoy them – and will be even better with real Greek oregano!