A venerable dish that seems to originate in ancient
Persia, is known and loved all over the Mediterranean,
and has been adopted by Greeks as a national dish.
This recipe, as developed by The Snotty Chef, looks
very suspiciously like his Pastitsio, and is of the same
Greek variety. From this recipe, however, along with the
historical, linguistic, chemical, biological and culinary
notes, you should be able to reconstruct any of the
thousands of existing and possible variations found or
not found in almost any country or culture, and still
remain true to the dish's quintessential properties:
comfort me with moussaká!
The cheese custard top layer is substantial here:
I like it - very much.
About 7-8 qts
INGREDIENTS (in order of use):
3 @ eggplants (aubergines), large
6-8 TBS olive oil, flavorful, as in Greek (or more, with lean beef)
4-6 @ Turkish bay leaf (medium)
6+ @ cloves garlic, minced
6 @ shallots, minced
5 lbs beef, round, ground (or lamb, or a mixture)
4 TBS butter
Mix in a small bowl:
1 tsp cinnamon (cassia bark), ground
3 tsp cinnamon (cinnamonum verum), ground
1+ tsp oregano, dried, crushed
(Use Greek oregano if possible) [See Note #5, below]
1/4 tsp marjoram, dried, powdered
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2-3 TBS sweet paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (or 2 tsp honey)
1 TBS beef base or bouillon (powdered)
4-5 @ onions (medium), cut in thin crescents
1 cup carrot, grated
4 TBS (=1/4 cup) Cocktail Sherry, white or red wine
4 TBS Metaxá or Brandy/Cognac
4-5 cup tomato purée
4 TBS tomato paste, mixed with
2 cup arbitrary mixture water & dry red wine, broth
3/4 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 tsp lemon zest, grated (that's about one lemon's worth or less)
2 tsp onion powder/granulated
2 tsp garlic powder/granulated
1 tsp tarragon, dried, crushed
1 @ lemon, juice of (about 2 TBS)
For the Custard (White Sauce - about 2 quarts):
8 TBS butter (lightly salted kind)
1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
1/2 tsp white pepper, ground finely
1/2 tsp black pepper, ground finely
8 TBS (rounded) all purpose flour
6 cup whole milk, or cultured buttermilk warmed
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, not warmed
8 @ eggs, jumbo, beaten smooth with a whisk
2 cup freshly grated kefalotiri or parmesan cheese
A LARGE skillet
A four quart saucepan
0. Slice the eggplants transversely into rounds 1/4 - 1/2 inch
1. Preheat Oven to 325 F, and prepare covered cassrole(s) to
accomodate the 7-8 qts of mixture by greasing them.
Using equal sized cassaroles is a help.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium high
heat, adding the bay leaves, and swirling the oil.
3. When the bay leaves begin to brown, add the shallots, and
half the garlic, stirring until they just start to brown.
4. Add the meat, and stir until the meat looses its pinkness,
and then, stir in the 4 TBS of butter and let it melt.
5. Stir in the spice bowl contents of cinnamon, oregano,
marjoram, paprika, black pepper and salt and bouillon.
Stir, mix well and allow the spices and herbs to cook for
about 2-3 minutes.
6. Add carrot and then the onions and mix well,
cooking for about 5 minutes.
Sweating the onions, covered,
for 5-10 minutes will let them mix in easier. In this case,
add the wine and brandy from the next step before covering.
7. Add the TBSs of wine and brandy, stirring until the alcohol
is mostly evaported, by the sniff of cupped hand test.
This should handle any pan deglazing that may or may not
have become necessary.
8. Add the tomato purée, mixing into all, following with the
water/wine & tomato paste mixture, and bring to a barely
bubbling, gentle simmer.
9. Lower the temperature of the skillet to a very gentle simmer,
for about 20 minutes, leaving uncovered while the cassarole(s)
and custard are prepared. This is specifically so that the sauce
will thicken and the onions will be soft. Crunchy onions are
nice, but not here; soft and comforting are the watchwords.
[Speed up technique: softening the onions can take a long
stewing time; a shortcut to the end effect is to sautée
them in oil/butter/ghee to soft first, and then add them
to whatever sauce is being made.]
Simmer until the onions are soft, adding
either water or wine as necessary. The sauce should not be
too "winey (or whiney)", nor should it be too soupy, else you
will whine at the soupy moussaka. Yuch!
Your meat sauce should be thick and spreadable, a little
thicker than properly made cement. Reduce the sauce to
this consistancy if you need to.
10. Cook the eggplant (aubergine) according to your taste:
the rounds can be either fried in oil, or baked on a
cookie sheet in the oven after being patted dry (if you
have used the salting trick) and brushed with oil. See
TSC's interminable discussion of eggplant and its
treatment in the notes below.
Reserve cooked eggplant for construction of the moussaka.
11. When the meat and sauce is simmered (This would be a good
time to check salt, and spicing.), you will have made all
that is necessary for what a Greek cook would call the
"saltsa kima", and an Arabic cook would call "Tazbeeka",
but we will go a little further: stir the lemon juice,
lemon zest, onion & garlic powders and tarragon, and
keep a very low simmer for at least another 15 minutes.
Reserve for construction of the moussaka.
NB: It is a typical (and wonderful) variation in most
of the middle east to add the finely minced garlic, not at
the beginning, which is very French, but as a finishing
to the meat and tomato sauce just about now - and we
do this, adding the second half of the minced garlic.
12. To prepare the custard topping, melt the 4 TBS of butter in
at least a four quart saucepan, over a moderate heat, adding
the nutmeg and peppers to the butter as it melts. They should
froth for about 15 seconds. That is also a visual for the
13. Add the flour, whisking, and cook the flour in the butter, with
much stirring for several minutes. This cooking time will
eliminate any raw starch taste from the sauce, as well,
bring out the flavors of nutmeg and pepper, and add a slight
pepper tang. Cooking ground black pepper in oil always does
this; to some extent, the finer the pepper grind the greater
Remove from heat, and cool the roux for at least 5-10 minutes.
14. Whisk the mixture with reasonable intensity while
adding the warmed milk a few TBS at a time, whisking it in
fully before adding more. There will be no thickening, and
we do not want flour lumps in the sauce. With the milk
completely incorporated, return the saucepan to medium heat,
stirring for 15-20 minutes while it thickens, and will
thicken no more.
Remove sauce from the heat.
Whisk in the unwarmed cream. The cream will lower the
temperature so that the eggs may be combined without fear
of their "curdling". Let the sauce cool, covered, for at
least 10 minutes, anyhow
15. Now, whisk in the beaten eggs, thoroughly.
16. In a greased cassarole, lay a layer of eggplant. Often,
a thin layer of bread crumbs is laid down before the
eggplant in Greek style. It is not a bad idea because they
will absorb errant liquid. Moussaka is not a soupy affair;
there should be no sauciness to it on serving, but it should
also be soft, moist and tender, but distinctly not at all dry.
Lay a very thin layer of the white sauce (custard) over the
layer of eggplant.
Sprinkle some grated cheese over the white sauce.
Lay a layer of the kima saltsa over that, and begin the
layering again as the cassarole depth allows, alternating
eggplant and meat sauce.
End with a layer of meat, and the remainder (should be a fair
amount) of white sauce over the top. Do be sure to spread
and smooth out the last meat layer so that the custard top
(white sauce) will be sealed off from everything below,
and that the custard top will not leak below.
17. Again, proportionately, evenly broadcast the grated cheese
over the surface of the sauce. It will sink into the sauce,
and become suspended in it as it melts and the sauce becomes
a cheese custard from the thickening by the eggs. This is
a clever and tricky manuover that is almost never seen in
moussaka recipes. (Not original, but I forget to whom to
If you like, decorate with some random paprika sprinklings -
or make erotic paprika paintings of genitalia, depending on
your audiences's intelligence and sense of humor. Abstracts
created as Rohrschach drawings can be equally amusing.
18. Bake covered for 30-60 mins, depending on the sizes of the
cassaroles. Allow to firm for at least 10 minutes before
Served simply warm is better than served piping hot anyhow;
it gives your audience longer to figure out your surface
artistry. More seriously, consider the meaning of the name
of this dish as parsed out below in the notes.
Why not just have a Greek salad and some red wine with it?
Retsina maybe? It is an acquired taste.
19. Yes, this keeps well refrigerated after cooking, and will reheat
very nicely in serving portions in a microwave, gently, of
course: use only half power (which isn't really half power,
it is half the "power on" time in cycling); so then also
double the cook time. Just out of the refrigerator is a bit
Like many cassaroles and stews, it is often considered better
on the second and third days; it is true.
1. Moussaká, exists in so many variations
thoughout the middle east that it is difficult to say:
where the word comes from (almost certainly Arabic), what the
word actually means, and what the defining characteristics are.
The laity will generally insist that a moussaka must be made
with eggplant (aubergine to be more precise). A Greek will
insist that it must be made with the "white sauce", which
was actually a béchamel sauce that was added by that definer
of neoclassical Greek cuisine, Nicholas Tselementes (1878-
1958). Without the white sauce, it should probably now be
called in Greek kima fournou (meat cassarole). As a chef,
Tselementes was inventive, and as with any artist, which he
really was, he was a bit unstable; as an historian, claiming
that the cuisine of Classical Greece was the font of all
European cuisine, he was rather a simpleton, who did not let
any obvious facts of history get in the way of his inventive
Muse of cuisine. Hmm - aren't most historians exactly that
way (though they will claim with nothing but their own
"authority", to be otherwise)? They are paid servants of
the victorious! Hence, Thucydides - when Herodotus is
the more honest puck.
Thucydides is digital, while Herodotus is analog.
Thucydides gives numbers and analysis, telling you what
is absolutely real, while Herodotus just tells what he sees,
what he hears, who told him and makes no attempt to decide
what is true and what is not. Modern historicals don't
much like Herodotus. Anyhow ...
Some say that moussaka means "cassarole", or even a "layered
cassarole". That does indeed seem to be the most general
structural description of it, and that may seem like a
reasonable guess - but - BEEEEP - wrong, however, and thank
you for playing. The cassarole words are "tachine", "tagine",
etc.; Moussaka, certainly does NOT mean cassarole.
The Greek word "moussaka" comes directly from the Turkish
mussakka, which is the same thing - without the béchamel sauce
nicely added in the 19th century by Tselementes.
See also the Romanian "musaca". The word is not at all Greek,
and means nothing in Greek, nothing in Turkish and nothing
in Romanian, other than the dish that it represents.
Some say the passage of the word is from Turkish through
Serbo-Croatian to Greek, but that strikes The Snotty Chef as
a rather unnecessary linguistic contortion that ignores the
obvious known history of Turkish occupation, and the direct
cultural Turkish influence on Greek cuisine.
Moussaka is a simultaneous loan word, OK? There is a homophonic
word in all European (geographically, not linguistically speaking)
languages for the dish, and the only language in which the word
makes any reasonable intrinsic sense is Arabic.
One finds the very same dish throughout the Mediterranean,
and specifically in Egypt with the same name, where the word
has a perfectly good philological explanation, while in Greek
and in Turkish, etc., it does not.
The stressed syllable changes from language to language; in
Greek, the accent falls on the last syllable, while in
Turkish, as for all words in Turkish, it falls on the first
syllable. The Turkish mussakka stems from colloquial Egyptian
Arabic "musaqqa‘a", chilled, moussaka, feminine passive
participle of "saqqa‘a", to chill, variant of "saqqa‘a",
from "sa‘a", cold, frost, from "saqi‘a", to be white.
This does not mean that it is supposed to be Arabic ice cream,
or "really" served cold, but rather that is is not to be
served heated in the way cooked food usually is, but served at a
more roomlike temperature; it is metaphor. The same principle
can be applied to Chinese "cold noodles", which are not served
cold, but rather "unheated" at room temperature. That is quite
cold, or chilled enough.
While the etymology rather clearly goes to Arabic, the dish
itself originates in the more ancient Persian culinary culture.
[Of course Egyptian culture is one of the world's oldest,
but that millennia old Egyptian culture is overlayed with
relatively modern centuries of occupations and invasions;
the language of Egypt is now Arabic, and this is disconnected
from the ancient Egyptian language, which is closer to Coptic.
Much was transferred culinarily during the Persian occupation.]
See, e.g., the Persian dish Haleem-Badenjaan, which, in place
of a European white sauce uses "kashk", a thick whey, the word
eventually giving the name of the cheese "kashkaval".
gives rise to the French word "Aubergine", through the Spanish
"Berenjena" (Moorish). Spanish actually takes many words from
Moorish, from Basque and other languages that have nothing to
do with Latin, from which it is rather impurely derived: the
cat "el gato", e.g. comes from Greek (γατοσ) not Latin (felix).
This etymological line associates the dish as technique
with the specific kind of eggplant now properly called
aubergine. There are also many different kinds of
eggplant in the East, mostly unknown to Western cuisine;
so, life, as usual, is not near so simple and orderly
as it may sometimes superficially suggest itself to be.
There seem to be no references in western and near eastern
writings of eggplants until the 9th century, but, also it
appears to have been cultivated in India over 4,000 years
ago. It then appears to be an eastern cultivar that was
introduced to the mediterranean area through the commerce
of the Silk Road, or more likely, earlier. There still
remain many forms of eggplant in the east that are still
unknown to the west, including the very small pea sized
eggplants used in Thai cuisine, for which we often
substitute green peas.
I thank my wonderful friend and scholar Osama Hegazi
in Cairo for help in tracking down the etymology, as well
for discussion of culinary techniques in Egyptian moussaka
and cuisine generally
(and much more than I have written here).
The "meat in tomato sauce" is a thing unto itself as a
matter of cuisine and culinary structure; it is called
"saltsa kima" in Greek and in Arabic "tasbeeka". This is
the substance, the process for making the substance is
"tasbeek", but the meaning of the word is sufficiently
general that the components of the substance may change:
meat, e.g., is not required. The method distinguishes
itself by first cooking the onions well in oil, and then
later adding other components (including the garlic!),
which is different than a method which cooks all together,
relying on the vegetable juices, or a little added water
and using little or no oil (Ar. "Nay Fi Nay"). Do remember
that tomatoes are New World items and that they existed,
generally, outside the Americas only starting with the
The meat was, of course, originally, to be minced, and not
ground - stirred, not shaken. If such an originality of
texture becomes an ideé fixe, and you refuse the Snotty
Chef's assurance that it matters very little, then by all
means, knock yourself out. Mince your meat. But then, do
try a food processor: partially freeze the meat cut into
cubes - use the pulse button, for heaven's sake! This is
*not* a pâté.
The garden variety Moussaka, but for its major fragrant interest
has almost a rustic simplicity to it, without garlic, shallot,
wine, brandy, and several other ingredients used here. While
a possible criticism of this version is that it seems to have
become Frenchified, the techniques and ingredients are all
typically Greek, so no whining about lack of authenticity.
The Snotty Chef has spoken. Besides, that topping, which is
the use of Tselementes' addition is already an apparent
Gallification of both ingredients and technique. So there!
Stuff it! Stuffed aubergines, however, is another story
for another time. Thomas Jefferson was rather fond of them.
2. Who would think that one of the most contentious aspects of a
Melitzanes Moussaka would be how to pretreat, and how to precook
There is a Fundamental Aubergine Problem, and different people
have developed different ways of solving it. The problem is
that Aubergine is an oil sponge; it will sop up more oil than
you can imagine, and Moussaka is a vegetable and meat dish,
not an oil soup. There are two approaches to the problem.
The first is to treat the aubergine in such a way as to inhibit
oil absorbtion, and the second is to restrict its contact with
oil. Fat, of course, makes for flavor, but there is such a
thing as too much of a good thing - especially if you try
making this dish with lamb.
In the first case, the classic Greek and Italian method is to
cut the aubergine into rounds, salt them well, stack and press
them. This creates an osmotic as well as mechanical pressure
that leeches water from the fruit (It really is a fruit, not
a vegetable), and breaks down the interstial structures that
hold the oil. An alternative is to soak the aubergine rounds
in heavily salted water. Enough of this, and you fill those
interstial spaces with water. Now, they can be quickly sauted,
If you can withstand the spattering, yet another technique is
to sautée the eggplant in oil - with water added to the oil.
Cute - but beyond TSC's endurance and patience.
The other approach, if you will fry the eggplant in oil, is
to do your frying as a high temperature sautée: heat the oil
to hot (beyond the "point of fragrance") but not smoking,
add the eggplant in small batches, and do your sauteing
There is a mythology abroad that says these salting techniques
remove the "bitterness" of the eggplant. From experience and
from consultation with other chefs whose opinions derive also
from experience and reasonable knowledge of chemistry, TSC
declares this to be balderdash, and a classic old wife's tale -
of a dim old wife at that. Grandmas are much more reliable.
The suspicion is that some kind of magical thinking is at play
here from dealing with immature aubergines, which do tend to
be bitter, and from a recognition that the aubergine (eggplants
generally) are members of the nightshade family that also
includes potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, as well as belladonna
and tabacum. These all contain at one point or another, or
in some plant part, alkaloids that can be quite toxic in
sufficient quantities. Not to worry: *everything* in sufficient
quantity can be, and is toxic and even lethal - even water.
Get with the program, we are not talking depleted uranium
that our US government uses in its programs of genocide.
In a mature aubergine, the source of possible bitterness is in
the skin and a thin layer of flesh just underneath it.
However, the heat of cooking destroys this bitterness; so,
the salt fairy has misspoken. This is only one instance of a
myriad of stories that happen to have slipped into language and
that are repeated magically and endlessly when the physical truth
of the matter puts the lie to the babbling. This locality
of the bitterness is also probably why just about every other
recipe involving them starts with considerable heat being
applied to their surface. It is done, but few understand why.
Some bitterness does seem to increase with size and age, so if
you have doubts, and have intentions of cooking the aubergines
only moderately, peel them first. TSC happens to like the
slight bitterness of the skin as a matter of an additional
level of taste, but though matters of taste can indeed be
argued, TSC is tired, and like Unbarkas is unwilling to argue
this point further.
Another consideration is here that I envision using the
the large (often about 1 lb.) deep purple aubergines that
is the defining crop in the USA. As I discover from conversations
with friends in other countries, particularly in the middle
east, the particular eggplants available in other countries and
used for the [moussaka] group of dishes can vary, and so can
their properties in cooking.
Now, for the second approach to the aubergine problem, cut
the rounds as usual; brushing both sides lightly with oil,
spread and stack them on baking sheets, and bake them in a
350 F oven for 30-40 minutes. If you try wiping them, or
dipping them in oil instead you will see the sponge property
in action. Don't do that! Simply brushing them with oil
will create a partial shield that will help prevent them
from drying out in the oven. As an alternative, or additional
technique you might consider putting a pan of boiling
water in the oven under them.
The truly strange aspect of this business of techniques is
that both techniques of taking water out and putting water
in actually work - but for different reasons.
NB: TSC has chosen his particular method for eggplant
with due consideration: it is not arbitrary or capricious.
If you use the method of frying in oil, you are almost guaranteed
that on reheating the eggplant will become (if not be outright)
slimey! Using the SC's method, the eggplant will have a soft,
moist, almost breadlike consistency, and not be slimey, or in
any other way yukky - and - it will survive reheating without
becoming slimey! Regarding this minor pontification, do
take into account the assumptions that have been made regarding
"which" eggplant. If the eggplant changes, the optimizing
rules also change - and you are on your own.
3. In the Matter of Sex:
Have I got your attention? Many languages in many cultures
distinguish two subtle classes of eggplant. No matter the
languge or culture, all those who pay attention to eggplants
make this distinction - and almost always, it is described as
Male and Female. The eggplant of course, is a fruit, the
product of sex, and has no sex itself. Nevertheless, the
distinction is valid, and in the larger globe aubergines, one
can even guess which is which by looking at the depression
that is usually at the blossom end (not the stem end).
Round seems to correlate with more seeds.
Oval seems to correlate with less seeds.
Beyond that, there's also the critical matter of maturity.
Immature eggplants picked before they were ready will have
less seeds, but they will also be hard - and I suspect that
it may have happened to you. In the US, *everything* is picked
before it is ripe - and everything tastes and has a texture
that tells that. Agribiz doesn't give a horse's petutti how it
tastes or cooks - only how it looks and how it ships, meaning
how it will stand up to being played basketball with by
So, you must not pick them too early. But, you can't pick them
too late or let them sit around too long either; then, they
*will* become bitter. Ooops - also, the older, the more
developed the seeds. They're delicate little critters.
Soon ripe, soon rotten.
The whole business has variations through the many varieties
as well. My, this does get complicated. Zucchini (courgettes)
are much easier; but grown in the wrong soil, they can also
be made bitter, as can cucumbers - a tale for another time.
4. The center of interest in the flavor of Greek moussaka is the
perfect balance of (bitter/sweet) oregano and cinnamon. You
may want to consider the ages and potencies of both of these to
tweak the amounts given here for that balance. Achieved aright,
the two flavors/aromas should merge into one, so that neither
one dominates the other. (Other ethnicities use different
spice/herb sets, and a common other one in the middle east is
cumino - a Persian classic.)
There are generally available in the west, three distinct
Italian: Origanum heracleoticum
Greek: Origanum onites
Europe: Origanum vulgare
Crete: Origanum dictamnus (actually a marjoram)
There is also a Mexican Oregano "lippia graveolens" grouped
as verbenaceae, that is biologically distinct but similar in
characteristics of flavor.
Oregano is not just oregano; the Snotty Chef's admonition
to use a Greek oregano is justified, and not lazy or magical
thinking. If you want your mind confused further, but
wonderfully articulated in its confusion, see Gernot
Katzner's web page
Spice Pages: Oregano (Origanum vulgare/onites/heracleoticum)
While oregano is not just oregano, cinnamon (nowadays) is not
at all cinnamon - another one of the many lies of modern life:
Yes, Virginia, there is a real cinnamon (Cinnamomum Vera) which
is the same as (Cinnamomum Zeylonicum) which is indigenous to
the island of Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka. This is generally
preferred in almost all places, while in the US, the more
coarse and uncivilized cassia bark is actually preferred!
In the US, it is cassia bark that is normally purveyed and
bought as "cinnamon". An idea of a catalog of the situation
in all other countries just gives the Snotty Chef a monumental
headache. Nevertheles, he really does know what the hell
he is talking about.
5. Variations on the spicing:
Although the "Greek Trick" in spicing has pretty much settled
on the cinnamon-oregano axis, one will find a preponderance of
ancient recipes for precursor dishes where an ill defined ratio
of cinnamon:cumino is the indicated consideration.
E.g., viz. "al-Katib al-Tabikh", as it is almost always referred
to, or more properly, "al-Katib al-Tabikh wa-islah al-Aghdiyah
al-Ma'kulat", by the brother of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, Abu
Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Nasr ibn Sayyar Al-Warraq. Arabic
can sometimes exhibit the structural characteristics of
Old Entish, though it does not take them an entire day simply
to say "Good morning".
Even in modern and related recipes from Iran with ancient Persian
pedigree one finds the cinnamon-cumino axis as a crux. They go
well together as "warming spices" in the Ayurvedic tradition,
and can be arranged by proportion with even less of a knife edge
balance than the cinnamon-oregano balance. Since cinnamon and
cumino are of similar intensity, and since they will both balance
against the oregano, the SC suggests a reasonable ratio of 1:1:2
of cinnamon:cumino:oregano. For the above recipe, use
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumino
2 tsp oregano
which is to say, in the recipe given, double the oregano
and add 1 tsp of ground cumino.
6. Variations on Moussaka:
The eggplant has been variously replaced with courgettes
(zucchini), other kinds of squash, potatoes, etc. Actually,
thin slabs of fresh puff ball fungus would work well also.
In various recipes, the saltsa kima has included celery and
mushrooms, Chinese snow peas (sugar peas), leeks, ...; name
it: it is a vegetable. SC will go with the mushrooms and
with the leeks. Forget the rest.
The white sauce or often "the topping", is a custard made from
yoghurt, and even in some Greek households, potatoes! The
entire dish can be stuffed with potatoes! The SC is less than
impressed - notwithstanding the fact that potatoes are strictly
New World and did not show up in any place else until the
16th century. Give me a break here guys! Potatoes in moussaka?!
No -- No. Definitely not. The Snotty Chef doesn't really give
a rat's ass that "some Greeks do it", nor that some Greek
restaurants do it (call them Diners then). Some Greeks also,
undoubtedly, eat ratburgers. The SC is impressed neither
with their culinary pedigree, nor with their taste. If you
put potatoes in it, at least have the decency to call it
"Meat and Potato Slop" or something - certainly not Moussaka.
The texture is all wrong. Cold or room temperature mashed
potatoes? I don't think so. Remember the concept in
the etymology? Words really do have meanings; some stretches
of meaning break the thread. Go ahead, use potatoes in whatever
way you want. If you don't do something horrible, and are
not a complete idiot, it will quite likely be something
quite edible served reasonably hot. Just don't call it
moussaka, because it isn't; it's merely an attempt to
cheapen a work of art and arrogantly demand that you be
allowed to get away with the crime.
While people can be very jealous of their own national cuisine,
that does not necessarily mean that they have even the slightest
concept of it, its history, or any taste in it when it comes
actually to making it. Some people know what they are talking
about, or shut up; others just babble endlessly, saying
perfectly stupid things in order to justify their stupidest
of emotions. They need to be paid no attention.
Bottom line: Tselementes knew what he was doing, and TSC
salutes his culinary genius. He made a good and idiomatic
addition, not only to the national Greek dish, but to the
general concept of moussaka that has been around for so long.
He did not suggest then well known potatoes; but, he knew
surely very well of the Persian precedent of kashk.
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