Monday, November 19, 2012

The Greek Salad - A Statistical View

There are a lot of things we know about Greece, but there are plenty of things we perhaps overlook. Take the Greek salad, for example. There are several ingredients in a proper Greek salad, but I want to bring your attention to just two of them, Feta and olive oil, and some interesting statistics on the two products.

First of all, to put things into perspective, according to the last official census available on-line, the population of Greece was 10,964,020 (2001 census). So, armed with this first statistic, let's take a look at goats.

We know that Greece is famous for producing Feta, but have you ever considered how many goats it takes to supply the Feta cheese making industry? Consider these numbers, taken from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.), and before you say it, yes I do need to get out more. Here is a breakdown of the latest figures (from 2008) of the number of goats in Greece. It's available for download as a spreadsheet from the site, but if you can't be bothered, here are the interesting bits.

Firstly, the total number of goats in Greece was 4,779,409. Nearly 4.8 million goats! That means there is a goat wandering around for every 2.3 Greeks. Of course, not all of them produce milk. The number of female goats that had kidded was 2,930,556, with another 383,067 females still to produce offspring. Over 2.9 million goats producing milk, now that's a lot of milk! Also, assuming you could line all the goats up from nose to tail, and assuming they are on average a metre in length, and also assuming that they behave themselves and stay still for long enough, the line would stretch from Athens to London and back again (distance between Athens and London is 2389 kms)!

Moving swiftly on to olive oil production. In 2006, the latest on-line figure available, 396 thousand tonnes of olive oil were produced in Greece. Using a handy on-line converter, which provides you with the density of olive oil, this converts to 460,465,116.27907 litres of oil, or assuming an Olympic sized swimming pool can hold 2.5 million litres, then you could fill roughly 184 pools. It's not surprising that Greece produces so much oil when you consider that back in 2006 the number of olive trees recorded was 158,490,012, which works out to be over 14.4 trees for every man, woman and child in Greece.

I think that's enough statistics for now. Whatever you do, don't get me on to the subject of tomatoes or cucumbers. That's a statistical minefield! Anyway, the next time you are pondering over what to order in your favourite taverna, spare a thought for all those olive farmers and poor goats who work tirelessly so that you can enjoy what has to be my favourite Greek dish of all, the humble Greek salad.

It is my solemn duty to inform everyone in the world that there are lots of goats and lots of trees in Greece, and that finding out the exact statistics of said goats and trees is vital. Statistics can be fun, especially where food is concerned.

Fruit Salad - A Great Dish

Fruit salads are super healthy dishes. It can be as simple as just tossing a variety of fruit into a large bowl. You just can't get any healthier than that. I have relied on this type of salad as a quick dish to bring to a potluck or as a gift to bring along when you are a dinner guest. It's a very versatile dish that everyone can eat and it's great for vegetarians!

Fruit salads are very colourful and pleasing to the eye. Depending on the fruit you choose you can create quite a visual impact. I love to use the strawberries in all my fruit salads not only is the strawberry very tasty it also has a very vibrant colour. Other colourful fruits that look great in a fruit salad include blueberries, kiwifruit and green grapes. I love the look of a colourful salad that's almost too beautiful to eat!

You can use pretty much any fruit in your salad but be aware of fruit that browns and serve accordingly. Fruit such as bananas, pears or apples will start to brown so if you must have these make sure that the salad is served immediately. Better yet, you can make up the salad ahead of time and only add these fruits immediately before serving.

You really don't need to add anything to the salad as the fruit will release its own juices but there are many dressings that will add more flavour and/or texture. If your salad contains fruit that is already quite sweet you may want to add plain yogurt, some orange or lime zest, or a little sprinkle of powdered sugar. If you feel you need some added sweetness pour in a little citrus juice or stir in some honey. Balsamic vinegar with just a touch of sugar will give the salad a tangy sweet taste. Or just keep it simple with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

You can add a little crunch to your fruit salad by adding nuts! Great additions include pistashios, walnuts, shredded coconut and even crushed dry roasted peanuts. Be safe and ensure your guests have no allergies before you serve a salad that contains nuts.

Just use your imagination and your favourite fruits to come up with your own variations. Experiment with dressings and the addition of nuts to make a unique creation. Fruit salads are a healthy guilt free dish to enjoy!