Thursday, July 17, 2014


"I opened up a yogurt, underneath the lid it said, 'Please try again.' because they were having a contest that I was unaware of. I thought maybe I opened the yogurt wrong… Or maybe Yoplait® was trying to inspire me… 'Come on, Mitchell, don't give up!' An inspirational message from your friends at Yoplait®, fruit on the bottom, hope on top." ~ Mitch Hedberg

I just wanted to do a quick 'blog-entry on one of the World's Best Condimentary Supplementations ever invented in the World ~ nay, one of the World's Best Foods ever invented in the World: Τζατζίκι (Tzatziki)! I had done a previous 'blog-entry on the merits of Curryketchup over "the vile white goop" ~ also known as the national anthem of France: "Le Mayonnaise" (see previous 'blog-entry from June 10th, 2012), and I figured that Τζατζίκι more than deserved its very own 'blog-entry (much like Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee did).

Stupid, Useless Cunning Linguist Pointer of the Day:

"Τζατζίκι" derives from the Turkish word "Cacik" (pronounced somewhat like "djadjik"). "ژاژ (jaj)" in Persian, and "cacix" in Armenian and Kurdish, refers to herbs like dill, mint, parsley, thyme, etc. (sorry, no sage or rosemary that I know of, Art and Paul); the added suffix "-ik" comes from Turkish.

Most people only know Τζατζίκι as the white sauce that is usually on top of gyros (or souvlakis) or döner kebaps, but in Greece and Turkey and many other countries in the Middle East, Τζατζίκι is generally served as an appetiser/side dish/dip. This was how I was first introduced to it ("It is so very nice to have made your acquaintance, Ms. Τζατζίκι!"). Τζατζίκι was one of the first Greek dishes that I ever had when I first moved to Greece; it was presented as a dip to be used with some fresh-baked peasant bread (ψωμί), pita bread (πίτα), or (the best use of all) with some French fried/steak fries (πατάτες τηγανητές).

There are many different versions of Τζατζίκι or Cacik found throughout the Middle East (mainly due to the Ottoman Empire's influence), and the Indian dish of raita is also very similar. The Greek version of Τζατζίκι is my ultimate favourite. It is made with strained yoghurt (usually from sheep or goat milk), mixed with cucumbers (diced or shredded and then drained/strained of most of their excess water), garlic (a friend's wife used to crush it in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt to get it to the right consistency of paste), olive oil, and a little acidity/flavour from fresh-squeezed lemon juice. The Turkish version of Cacik will usually have most of these same ingredients, but with the addition of either dill or mint (I prefer neither extra herb, but it is still pretty good with them added in) and with or without the cucumbers (the cucumbers really add a nice texture to it, though). Greek Τζατζίκι will usually be a lot thicker and dippier than Turkish Cacik

I once had a roommate when I was going to school at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California that liked it so much that she would eat it for breakfast even. (Hey, Pam!) One morning before class, I caught her sneaking a few spoonfuls out of the batch that we used to keep in the refrigerator (both myself and our other roommate ~ Hey, Jordan! ~ had been stationed in Greece together and had introduced her to this most excellent dish). However, after Pam explained it to me, it all made perfect sense. What is not to like about Τζατζίκι for a breakfastary repast? It has yoghurt in it ~ very healthy and good for you (and a breakfastary staple with a lot of people); cucumbers ~ very refreshing (and while not a normal breakfastary item, it is technically a fruit); olive oil ~ another healthy and very tasty ingredient; and, last but not in the very leastest, garlic (which probably deserves its very own 'blog-entry one of these days, too). So, who am I to argue with such indisputably sound ratiocination?

Also, while living in Berlin (the one in Germany, not the more famous one in Massachusetts), I introduced another old Air Force buddy (who we shall just call "Doug DePraved" for informational purposes) to Τζατζίκι. We were out on the weekend in what was then called West Germany (or "the Mainland" to those of us that were living on the "Island of Democracy" of West Berlin). Doug let me choose the place for dinner the first night in Celle. I happened to notice a Greek restaurant just around the corner from where our Gasthaus (basically Deutsch for "bed & breakfast") was located. Now, there are two things you need to know about Herr DePraved: 1) he had never had Greek food before (or he wasn't very familiar with it, I don't exactly remember which), and 2) he was a very persnickety eater. As was my normal custom when eating Greek food, I ordered some Τζατζίκι to start the meal with. Doug took one look at it and sneered, saying, "What the heck is that junk?" So, I explained to him it was just a yoghurt, cucumber, and garlic dip. To which he replied, "I hate yoghurt… and garlic." But he tried some all the same (maybe he really liked cucumbers). Well… apparently he didn't hate yoghurt and garlic as much as he thought he did, or maybe the combination of both negated out his hatred for each other (♪ "Put da lime in da coconut…" ♪ ???). He ended up loving the junk and made us go back the next night for dinner at the same place and ordered his own side of Τζατζίκι, too. Ever after that, Doug would bug me at least once or twice a month to go out for some "Greeky food", as he put it.

Τζατζίκι, it's not just for breakfast any more, Pam…

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Τζατζίκι ~ 7.5-8.5

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