Since the time of the great ancient doctor Hippocrates, herbs have always been a most significant factor in Greek culture. Be it for medicinal use or cooking, they are a must in every Greek kitchen. There are herbs growing all over the country – some found only in particular parts, like saffron or krokos, for instance which grows exclusively in Kozani.
The Greek countryside is abundant in all kinds of greens and people, who are acquainted with them, take a bag and a knife and head for the valleys and hills to collect them after the rain. They are carefully washed, boiled and served with lemon and olive oil dressing. In fact, during the Second World War, when food was scarce, many survived because they knew how to spot the edible and tasty greens from the fields. Some types are the bitter radikia, the sweet radikia and vlita to mention but a few.
Herbs like sage, oregano, thyme and rosemary are also collected, dried and used as a tea or in recipes. If you have a sore throat for instance, oregano tea with a teaspoon of honey is sure to make a difference. There is an herb for every ailment – just ask any elderly citizen in Greece – they swear by them.
There are stores which sell herbs and spices and even if you don’t intend to buy anything, I would recommend a visit to one. You will see sachets of different herbs – some for lowering cholesterol, some for high blood pressure, for arthritis, period pains, colds and flu, tummy aches, etc.