Taygetus Greek: Ταΰγετος, also Taigetos is a mountain range of the Peloponnesus, Southern Greece, extending about 65 miles (100 km) north from the southern end of Cape Matapan in the Mani Peninsula. It rises to about 7,900 ft (2,410 m) at Mt. Hagios Ilias (Mt. St. Elias or Prophitis Elias). The mountain is named after Taygete. In Byzantine times and up until the 19th century, the mountain was known as Pentedaktylos (Greek for five-fingered). The mountain range includes the prefectures of Arcadia, Laconia and Messenia. The highest peak of the mountain is known for displaying the approximate shape of a pyramid. A church of the prophet Elias (προφήτης Ηλίας) is located near the peak. European walking route E4 also leads there. The valley of the Evrotas River lies to the east, while the Ionian Sea lies to the south and west along with the Gulf of Kalamata or the Messenian Gulf and Arcadia to the north. Almost all of the Evrotas valley, the Parnon Mountains and half of Laconia can be seen from the eastern slope. The western slopes panorama includes Kalamata and the eastern half of Messenia. Most of the southwestern part of Arcadia can also be seen. The central part of the mountain range is commonly called “Skoteini Plevra” which means “the dark side” because the villages that are in the Taygettus don’t receive as much sunshine, especially in the morning and the pre-dusk hours. Much of the area is forested and in higher areas, deforested with grasslands, meadows and flowers. The area receives sunshine only during the afternoon hours. The length is about 4 to 5 km and the width is approximately 1 km. (courtesy Wikipedia)
Why was I taking pictures of Taygettus Mountain? Well, I am sure that all of you who are not of Greek origin, do not know that Greece had Pyramids even before the ancient Egyptians. The pyramid of Taygettus is visible without the use of binoculars but in this picture it is not very clear as I took it from the car and from far away. I am giving you a few links and if you are intrigued you may read all about this. One of these pyramids is visible from the road towards Sparta and it is more clear during winter when there is snow on it. Although the Pyramid of Taygetus is disputed, the others are not but the Greek government instead of restoring them have left them to total destruction as the pyramid near Argos which a few decades back was in a very good condition.
When I went to Sparta last week I bought some oregano from there. I usually buy a lot more but my sister-in-law told me that this week they plan to go and pick some from the Mountain and will send me some.
When collecting oregano, the best way to remove it from the twigs is to put it in a plastic bag and then rub the leaves otherwise you will prick your fingers on the twigs.
Olive oil and oregano from Taygettus is a special treat.
Fetes Psomi me Ladi
Fetes me psomi kai ladi is the Greek version of bruschetta. The best way to use your leftover bread is to toast it or grill it. Then wet it with olive oil (my husband adds a loooooot!), sprinkle oregano and salt and you’ll have the BEST bread you’ve ever eaten. It is perfect for a quick snack or accompaniment to drinks like ouzo, zivania or just a glass of wine.
Top it with some of your favourite ingredients and the mezedaki is ready.
Ladolemono, which literally means oil and lemon, is a salad dressing/sauce we use in Greece for grilled fish, grilled meat and over our vegetables.
Add an equal amount of olive oil and lemon juice and add salt, and oregano. Oregano is the basic aromatic herb for this dressing and even in Greece the Greeks look for oregano which originate from a few places such as Crete, the Mount of Taygettus, and the island of Allonissos, because of its wonderful fragrance. If you add this oregano in the oil and lemon dressing no other ingredient is necessary as this enhances the flavour of the fish or meat.
However, this is a quite versatile recipe and can vary depending with what you want to serve it with.
Vlita (amaranth) for example, are usually served with olive oil, lemon (or vinegar), garlic, oregano, and pepper.
When there are ingredients like garlic, fennel or capers in ladolemono it is best to blend them in a food processor.
Ladolemono (Olive Oil and Lemon Dressing)
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup of lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of oregano or thyme
- A pinch of black pepper
- Chopped garlic
Put all ingredients in a container with an airtight lid and shake well so that the end result is a creamy dressing.
Shake or stir before using, as the oil will separate.
This and many more recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in my e-cookbook.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,