Chicken as a Luxury

Within the last few decades, chicken has decidedly been stripped of its Sunday-meal status in the Greek kitchen: it is no longer either a delicacy or a specialty. Today, it is common fare.

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Half a century ago, a Greek dining room table boasting a "kokoras," or a plump rooster, was an indication that that day must be one of the country's major holidays. Specifically on Christmas, the bird would be would be stuffed with rice, chestnuts, and raisins, among other ingredients. In particularly affluent households, kokoras might not be limited to select holidays, but could perhaps be found on a Sunday dinner table.

Nowadays, there are myriad options via which a household could find chicken for dinner. Although a trip to the supermarket would generally entail the same pale-skinned, vapid-tasting variety as American industrially farmed chickens, this means is probably the most common within chaotic Athens. But Athenians have found that it is not all that difficult to venture into the Greek countryside, thereby acquiring a farm-raised, free-range bird. In fact, chicken breeders raising organic birds are rapidly growing in numbers.

Either way, the Greek kitchen is replete with impressive chicken dishes. Mostly, if the bird is not roasted, it is cooked up in a pot with plenty of sauce and often times an assortment of fresh vegetables. Classic dishes include chicken stewed with okra and tomato sauce, or prepared with eggplants. Similarly, chicken dishes frequently include artichokes. Greek cuisine in its evolving form of today is redolent with fragrant chicken stews. Such stews are commonly seasoned with cinnamon, spices, and other herbs. According to Greek agrarian tradition, old hens are not to be savored in recipes that involve roasting or stewing, but instead in soups.

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