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Nicholas Tselementes Changed Cooking for the Greek Diaspora Too

Greeks have been cooking for eons but did you ever wonder how the dishes came to be known and become so popular around the world?

You can trace some answers back to Nicholas Tselementes, born in 1878 on the island of Siphnos, a country boy chef who wrote the first really influential cookbook on Greek cuisine, noted Tasting Table in a feature.

The food in Greece took tastes from invaders and other regions and picked up from Turkish, Italian, Slavic, Balkan, and Arabic cuisines, as well as from the local farming traditions that prioritized simple foods from the region, also noted Spruce Eats.

The site Culture Trip said he’s credited for the modern-day version of moussaka, which despite being one of the most recognizable ‘Greek’ dishes, is covered in a decidedly un-Greek layer of béchamel sauce, which he promoted generally.

Tselementes studied cooking in Vienna before leaving Europe to work in the United States and returned years later with a lot of ideas, incorporating French sauces.

Saveur said Tselementes’s 1932 cookbook, ‘Odigos Mageirikis’, was so popular that its versions of Greek recipes eventually replaced the oral traditions that kept Greek culinary history alive.


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