Clean Monday: the tradition, the food, the wine pairing

by Ted Lelekas



This coming Monday is – yet another – special day in Greece. You may know it (or have heard of it) as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday. We Greeks call it Clean Monday or “Kathará Deftéra”. It’s the celebration that marks the beginning of Lent, according to the Orthodox Church, it’s a moveable feast that’s always celebrated 48 days before Easter Sunday and it’s a public holiday across the country.


Kathara_Deutera-2Clean Monday is so called because people are meant to cleanse their souls and bodies before Lent. And whereas soul-cleansing is done through prayer, going to mass etc, the cleansing of the body is taken care of through fasting. As such, Clean Monday is a “meatless” day, so the food on the table on that day (essentially the family lunch, since it’s a holiday) consists of “nistissima”, ie foods suitable for Lent fasting.

Nistissima is anything but meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Everything else is allowed, including seafood and shellfish, vegetables (roast, fried or pickled), salads, rice or pasta dishes (usually with tomato sauce and seafood), as well as dips such as taramosalata and eggplant salad (melitzanosalata). Also very typical is the azyme bread that’s only made – and consumed – on Clean Monday, called “lagána”…

… So how do you “dress” the Clean Monday table with suitable wine? Well, it’s easier than you’d think… read more @



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