Outstanding Oregano From Greece

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

A taste of the Taygetus Mountains to magically take your cooking up a couple notches


The word Oregano comes from the Greek oros meaning “mountain,” and ganos, meaning “joy.” Whatever you put in, you’ll add a little mountain joy to your next meal. Good results are guaranteed! 

Most everyone around these parts will, of course, have had some oregano over the years! But as with so many foods, a single name on the label can cover a very wide range of quality levels. There’s oregano that’s nearly worthless—oregano that grows in colder climates (like ours), it turns out, has only a fraction of the essential oils that something from hot sunny regions will have; and while Mexican oregano is very good, it’s an entirely different plant and flavor altogether! And then there’s oregano, like this, that’s pretty much world-class—it grows at high altitude, in dryish, rather rocky soil, in very sunny, very hot climates. The difference between the two is dramatic! While average oregano might seem “fine,” this stuff is fantastic! Just open the bag and you’ll fill your entire kitchen with incredible aromas! 

This amazing herb is collected by hand on the slopes of Taygetus, the famous (written up in The Odyssey) mountain range that runs down the southwestern part of the Peloponnesian peninsula in Southern Greece. It comes to us from the Greek artisan herb specialists at Daphnis and Chloe. Everything we get from them—fennel seed, wild Greek Mountain Tea, wild thyme, and more—is exceptionally good. As they explain, 

You could hunt for Mediterranean herbs at food markets, spice stores, and delis around the world, but even your best finds won’t compare to the hand-picked oregano bunches that Greek women dry on their balconies during the summer months, or to the wild thyme shrubs that fill the islands’ air with their dainty fragrance each spring. And this is what Daphnis and Chloe is all about.

Like every other herb and spice, it will be significantly better if it’s ground right before it’s used. With oregano that’s really easy—just pick up a pinch and crush between your thumb and forefinger! Literally just a few leaves sprinkled on a salad will elevate the entire dish. The Daphnis and Chloe website has a wonderful recipe for an appetizer of oregano-scented sardine fritters. They call for fresh sardines (check at Monahan’s to see if they have them in stock) but I’ve made it with some of the great Ortiz or Fishwife tinned sardines we have at the Deli as well. You can use the oregano on pretty much anything from pasta to pizza to freshly cooked potatoes, eggs, rice, or anything else!