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Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die: A Cookbook

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Part cookbook, part travelogue, Ikaria is an introduction to the food-as-life philosophy of the Greek island "blue zone" and a culinary journey through luscious recipes, gorgeous photography, and captivating stories from locals.  The remote and lush island of Ikaria in the northeastern Aegean is home to one of the longest-living populations on the planet, making it a "blue Part cookbook, part travelogue, Ikaria is an introduction to the food-as-life philosophy of the Greek island "blue zone" and a culinary journey through luscious recipes, gorgeous photography, and captivating stories from locals.  The remote and lush island of Ikaria in the northeastern Aegean is home to one of the longest-living populations on the planet, making it a "blue zone." Much of this has been attributed to Ikaria's stress-free lifestyle and Mediterranean diet: daily naps, frequent sex, a little fish and meat, free-flowing wine, mindful exercise like walking and gardening, hyper-local food, strong friendships, and a deep-rooted disregard for the clock. No one knows the Ikarian lifestyle better than Chef Diane Kochilas, who has spent much of her life there. Capturing the true spirit of the island, Kochilas explains the importance of shared food, the health benefits of raw and cooked salads, the bean dishes that are passed down through generations, the greens and herbal teas that are used in the kitchen and in the teapot as "medicine," and the nutritional wisdom inherent in the ingredients and recipes that have kept Ikarians healthy for so long. Ikaria is more than a cookbook. It's a portrait of the people who have achieved what so many of us yearn for: a fuller, more meaningful and joyful life, lived simply and nourished on real, delicious, seasonal foods that you can access anywhere.


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Part cookbook, part travelogue, Ikaria is an introduction to the food-as-life philosophy of the Greek island "blue zone" and a culinary journey through luscious recipes, gorgeous photography, and captivating stories from locals.  The remote and lush island of Ikaria in the northeastern Aegean is home to one of the longest-living populations on the planet, making it a "blue Part cookbook, part travelogue, Ikaria is an introduction to the food-as-life philosophy of the Greek island "blue zone" and a culinary journey through luscious recipes, gorgeous photography, and captivating stories from locals.  The remote and lush island of Ikaria in the northeastern Aegean is home to one of the longest-living populations on the planet, making it a "blue zone." Much of this has been attributed to Ikaria's stress-free lifestyle and Mediterranean diet: daily naps, frequent sex, a little fish and meat, free-flowing wine, mindful exercise like walking and gardening, hyper-local food, strong friendships, and a deep-rooted disregard for the clock. No one knows the Ikarian lifestyle better than Chef Diane Kochilas, who has spent much of her life there. Capturing the true spirit of the island, Kochilas explains the importance of shared food, the health benefits of raw and cooked salads, the bean dishes that are passed down through generations, the greens and herbal teas that are used in the kitchen and in the teapot as "medicine," and the nutritional wisdom inherent in the ingredients and recipes that have kept Ikarians healthy for so long. Ikaria is more than a cookbook. It's a portrait of the people who have achieved what so many of us yearn for: a fuller, more meaningful and joyful life, lived simply and nourished on real, delicious, seasonal foods that you can access anywhere.

30 review for Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die: A Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jill Mackin

    As others have said in previous reviews; lovely photography and interesting articles, but not too many exciting recipes. Edit: I would like to make Fakes me Faskomilo kai Kafteri Piperia, a sage and chilies soup.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jillyn

    3.5 stars I love to cook, that's no secret. Since my dad's a chef, I grew up learning and appreciating all sorts of different types of cuisine. That being said, I will always have a soft spot for Greek cooking. It is my absolute favorite to eat, and I read as many cookbooks as I can on the subject. This book makes a pretty good addition to my collection. What makes this book cool is the voice that it's written with. There's a lot of personal connections and stories that make the book more personal 3.5 stars I love to cook, that's no secret. Since my dad's a chef, I grew up learning and appreciating all sorts of different types of cuisine. That being said, I will always have a soft spot for Greek cooking. It is my absolute favorite to eat, and I read as many cookbooks as I can on the subject. This book makes a pretty good addition to my collection. What makes this book cool is the voice that it's written with. There's a lot of personal connections and stories that make the book more personal, which makes the recipes feel like they were handed to you by someone dear to you. There's also a lot of cool history and facts about what life in Ikaria is like, as well as tips and hints that are scattered throughout, and a bibliography at the end for more reading. You've got to love a book that encourages more reading. The recipes are divided into sections: Small bites, salads, soups, savory pies and breads, vegetables as a main course, beans and legumes, pasta and rice, sea life, meat, and sweets. I like this style of organization, since it's easy to find the recipe that you're in the mood for. The skill level for this book is really varied. Some of the recipes are really complex, with lots of ingredients and techniques and time management skills. Other dishes are much more simple, like roasted onions. I think that's good, because that makes it approachable to any cook, no matter of what their skill level in the kitchen is. I am bummed that there's not many pictures, since I generally take that into large consideration when I'm buying a cookbook. The steps are short and to the point, and they include variations to the recipes when applicable. There are some pretty uncommon ingredients in here, which I can anticipate being a problem depending on where you live. I did like, though, that each dish name was given both in English and in Greek, giving it more authenticity. Some of the recipes are traditional Greek foods I know and love, such as lemon rice soup and dolmades, others are dishes I've never even heard of before. Whether I've heard of them or not though, they all sound so rustic and wholesome. The soup and seafood chapters all sound delicious, and there's nice variation on rabbit and goat dishes. These are both proteins I enjoy, but don't get to eat very often. That said, this book is very vegetarian friendly. There's a whole chapter just on vegetable main courses, and other dishes give variations to make them more adaptable. Some of the recipes that I'm most excited to try include Wine-Cooked Rooster and Rooster Broth Soup with Rice, Ikarian Milk Soup, and Grape Molasses-Chocolate Cake. I recommend this book to those looking to add more Greek spice to their home kitchen. I just wish there were more pictures. I received my copy in exchange for my honest review. This review can also be found on my blog, Bitches n Prose.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    *I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. An aesthetically beautiful volume with a too-long title and recipes that fail to excite. 1.5 Stars Read this review and more on The Library Lass Book Talk Blog. *I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. An aesthetically beautiful volume with a too-long title and recipes that fail to excite. 1.5 Stars Read this review and more on The Library Lass Book Talk Blog.

  4. 5 out of 5

    False

    Beautifully printed. Lovely photographs. Not one recipe I would even consider trying to make.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather Tucker

    The writing is fairly good in this one and I wanted to make a lot of the recipes. HOWEVER. I seemed to always be unable to locate at least one of the ingredients. How will I live forever now?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Kochilas uses her experience and some research to draw some conclusions about the healthy eating of people on the Greek Island of Ikaria. Make what you will of these assumptions about healthy eating, but the recipes themselves emphasize the local foods which are strong on veggies and olive oil and highlight Greek flavors. Recipes are organized around courses. And the book has lots of color pictures of prepared dishes. Some recipes will be out of most people’s reach-unless you have access to unpast Kochilas uses her experience and some research to draw some conclusions about the healthy eating of people on the Greek Island of Ikaria. Make what you will of these assumptions about healthy eating, but the recipes themselves emphasize the local foods which are strong on veggies and olive oil and highlight Greek flavors. Recipes are organized around courses. And the book has lots of color pictures of prepared dishes. Some recipes will be out of most people’s reach-unless you have access to unpasteurized goats milk, cured goat, kefalotyri, sea fennel, or taro root for example. And she includes some prep techniques that are a bit unusual like drying potatoes. . . But in terms of difficulty, generally the recipes are simple often will only five or six ingredients. There are lots of essays on foodways in ikaria including their high alcohol wines, wide range of herbs (many of which I’ve never heard of like leontodon taraxacum)and unique mushrooms. If you are interested in the what and how the long living Ikarian population eats, then this book can function as a cultural artifact.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A very enjoyable book to read, chock full of information about the island of Ikaria, the inhabitants, and the food they eat. A reasonable amount of the recipes use ingredients that are readily available in the US, or note easy-to-find substitutions for more unfamiliar ingredients, such as fennel bulb for wild fennel. Others will require a trip to a Mediterranean specialty grocery for items like "petimezi" (grape molasses). Some of the recipes, involving goat & cephalopods, are not appealing to m A very enjoyable book to read, chock full of information about the island of Ikaria, the inhabitants, and the food they eat. A reasonable amount of the recipes use ingredients that are readily available in the US, or note easy-to-find substitutions for more unfamiliar ingredients, such as fennel bulb for wild fennel. Others will require a trip to a Mediterranean specialty grocery for items like "petimezi" (grape molasses). Some of the recipes, involving goat & cephalopods, are not appealing to me, but are interesting to read about at the very least. A good book to add to a cookbook collection, as much for the cultural history as for the recipes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Proia

    I think that I own every Kochilas book published. Her recipes are straight forward and delicious with easily accessible ingredients. I also like her current PBS series (which does not relate to this book).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dray

    The more you look at recipes the more you realize that food is regional. Although familiar with Greek cuisine, the island of Ikaria has some wonderful takes and variations using the unique flavors found there. Worthwhile.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Lots of great recipes and interesting tidbits about the Greek island Ikaria, one of the longevity Blue Zones. Many of the recipes are from the Diane Kochilas cooking show, so that was fun.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sia Karamalegos

    An excellent view into the culinary and cultural world of the island of Ikaria.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Great stories and recipes, this author has a great passion for this past of Greece and the amazing food.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Gerberding

    The PBS chef writes another love letter to Greece and its food. I already made the chickpea stew and it was amazing!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    This is a very interesting book about the people of Ikaria, a tiny Greek island off the coast of Turkey. Many of them live long lives and they are healthier than people in other parts of the world. Their diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet with the exception of the large amount of potatoes they eat. I found it especially interesting that their breakfast usually consists of goat milk or herbal tea. That's it. Besides interesting stories and information about how they eat, the book also conta This is a very interesting book about the people of Ikaria, a tiny Greek island off the coast of Turkey. Many of them live long lives and they are healthier than people in other parts of the world. Their diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet with the exception of the large amount of potatoes they eat. I found it especially interesting that their breakfast usually consists of goat milk or herbal tea. That's it. Besides interesting stories and information about how they eat, the book also contains a treasure trove of recipes. While I admit, some of the ingredients may be hard to find, suitable substitutions will be easy to come up with. I loved this book, and I recommend it to anyone who wishes to look for a healthier lifestyle.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marathon County Public Library

    This was a great, new book to stumble upon! This cookbook focuses on the life and recipes of the small Greek island of Ikaria. Between recipes unique to this area, the author shares stories of the people, culture, and food of this beautiful island, alongside fantastic pictures. This cookbook is a great opportunity to delve into the lives of the locals, and the food that sustains them. Sarah M. / Marathon County Public Library Find this book in our library catalog. This was a great, new book to stumble upon! This cookbook focuses on the life and recipes of the small Greek island of Ikaria. Between recipes unique to this area, the author shares stories of the people, culture, and food of this beautiful island, alongside fantastic pictures. This cookbook is a great opportunity to delve into the lives of the locals, and the food that sustains them. Sarah M. / Marathon County Public Library Find this book in our library catalog.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Such a clear sense of the area being described-- fresh, whole ingredients, history and flavor are my holy trinity in a cookbook, so this one gets a huge, happy, gushing recommendation. The mushroom stew was amazing, the hortas just like the ones I love from my favorite restaurant. I will continue to cook my way through.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads and I love it! The recipes are simple and delicious! If you were wanting to try and make Greek food at home, definitely try some of these recipes. I was even impressed by the design of the book. The pictures are beautiful and the directions are easy to follow. I want to visit Greece as soon as possible.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chang Ohana

    I really enjoyed the lessons of food, life and longevity from Ikaria. The photographs and stories have me wanting to visit. The recipes that I tried were delicious. The only unfortunate thing for me, was that I do not have access to many of ingredients.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ambur Taft

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful people, beautiful food - and such a great story to go along with it all. More of a motivation to go to Ikaria and eat the food than make it myself.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jan1243

    Very interesting. Not completely practical for me but I've saved a few recipes for sure! Very interesting. Not completely practical for me but I've saved a few recipes for sure!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin Moulton

    Stunning stories and food. Cannot wait to eat all of the lentils!!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Schuyler

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joan Bowers

  24. 5 out of 5

    Meg Dean

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  26. 4 out of 5

    David L Lanthier

  27. 5 out of 5

    RENE BARRETT

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sue Cannella

  29. 5 out of 5

    laurie ZDANIS

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Adams

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