In a self-sustainable community where people have to deal with illness with whatever they have available by foraging or producing themselves, prevention is the best mean for health and longevity.
Prevention of illness and good health are deeply rooted in our daily food and our dietary habits.
All of my grandparents left this world in a very old age. Especially, my grandmothers who lived to their nineties in good shape and without serious health issues. I have no doubt that their way of eating was the main reason for having a long good life in spite the many difficulties they went through as they both experienced poverty, war and a destructive earthquake that changed life on the island of Cephalonia for good.
Their diet had nothing to do with going gluten or lactose free, getting plenty of supplements and buying expensive products to keep them in good shape. They harvested their food in the wild, they ate in moderation and they ate mainly what they could produce themselves.
Agliada or Skordalia is a beloved dish in my family and in most of the families living on the island. The word Agliada comes from the Italian word “aglio” which means garlic. Similarly, Skordalia comes from the Greek word “skordo” which also means garlic and this is how this dish in known in most places in Greece.
This recipe is a wonderful way to incorporate more garlic in our daily lives in a tasty dish that preserves all the antimicrobial qualities of garlic and is a gift to our cardiovascular system. Women in the Ionian Islands still use plenty of garlic in the everyday food to prevent colds, flus and all kind of infections, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol. Agliada is a real life example of how food is our medicine and vice versa.
Use less garlic to avoid garlic breath or be sure that everyone will enjoy some agliada and so no complaints will be made. My grandmother was always at ease that no one would kiss us in our evening summer stroll the day agliada was cooked at home!!!!
Whenever we had specials guests or on specific anniversaries throughout the year, grandmother would bring out the big stone made pestle with the wooden mortar. It is such a sweet memory to remember her making agliada! When she passed away, I asked for one thing to remind me of her and that was the pestle and the mortar where agliada was made.
In this pestle, I will make and photograph an agliada today and will offer it with the grandmother’s recipe to our readers.
There are plenty of recipes to make skordalia in different parts of Greece. In Cephalonia, skordalia is always made with potatoes, cod fish broth and loads of garlic. Garlic can be moderated to everyone’s taste or need but I remember all old people on the island making a separate bunch of skordalia for themselves with double quantity of garlic than the one served to the rest of the family. However, use garlic just to taste if you have sensitive stomach or low blood pressure.
Nowadays, skordalia can be made easily using a food processor. So, let’s explore both options!
1 garlic bulb
Juice of 2 lemons
Olive oil (about 1 cup or a little bit more)
Cod fish broth
8 medium potatoes
Boil a piece of cod fish to make the broth. Alternatively, we can boil just the tail, the bones and the skin of the fish. The cod fish used traditionally is preserved in salt and so, we have to put the fish in a bowl of water in the fridge for at least two days before using. Change the water often and don’t use more salt while cooking. The broth is added at the end to give skordalia the preferred consistency. We can skip this step and add warm water instead of cod fish broth, if we want to make things quicker and easier.
The rest of the fish is usually fried into delicious cod fish pan cakes. I’ve learned from my mum to dip the cod in a beer batter before frying and I love this option.
The first step to make an agliada is to boil the potatoes in salted water. Then, mash the garlic with the salt in the pestle. Add a little bit of olive oil and mix well to make a garlic olive oil sauce.
Remove the garlic from the pestle and smash the potatoes. I smashed about three potatoes at a time incorporating some of the olive oil in every batch. Set that batch aside and smash the next batch till all potatoes are pureed.
Put everything back in the pestle. Add the lemon juice and the rest of the oil and mix well. Add warm fish broth or warm water till you get the consistency you like.
Serve with fried, boiled or sauted vegetables, wild harvested greens, cooked fish or as a dip.
To make skordalia in a food processor, just process the garlic, the olive oil and the lemon juice. Add the mixture in the boiled potatoes and puree all ingredients together. A stick mixer works well in this step. Skordalia is now made in a couple of minutes. Not the same result but still delicious and easy to make.