Ouzo, A Cook’s Friend, too!
Marty Martindale

Those, not Greek, tend to know ouzo best as the fun incendiary when a restaurant waiter torches an appetizer of white cheese.

“Opa!” everyone shouts.

The crowd responds with an excited chorus of “Opa’s!”

All too soon the waiter douses the flame with fresh lemon juice.

The warm, crusty, tangy cheese remains get consumed by all.

Ouzo is made from distilled grapes, flavored with aniseed, also mint and fennel. Some bottler recipes call for cinnamon, mastic (a resin), coriander, cloves or cardamom. Its alcohol potency ranges from moderate to strong and can pack a wallop. When adding some to an open skillet, take the pan away from the stove, as it flames easily.

Besides sipping ouzo it’s also a cook’s friend for a hard-to-figure-out, licorice flavor a non-Greek can’t put their finger on. Some compare it to the famed absinthe, and a museum on the Greek island of Lesbos is dedicated to Ouzo. Thoroughly enjoying the sipping of ouzo is considered a Mediterranean art. Though clear by itself, ouzo turns milky white when ice is added to it and changes it chemically. 

Sippers of ouzo like to accompany it with olives, olive oil, cheeses, yogurt, lentil soup, Moussaka, Tzatziki, YuvarlakiaKofta and Borek, Lentil Soup, Moussaka, Tzatziki, YuvarlakiaKofta and Borek, all popular Greek dishes.     

When one cooks with ouzo, we often hear of the Mediterranean Diet? The popular diet, over-simplified, includes:  

  • Eat fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and grains.
  • Use olive oil for cooking and butter substitute.
  • Eat less red meat.
  • Eat almost as little fish.
  • Men drink two glasses of wine per day; one glass for women (optional)
  • It is healthy, and if you follow all the directions and amounts, you will lose weight. 


Ouzo received its roots in the 14th century in the island area of Crete where early monks experimented and came up with it.  

We expect Greeks to cook delicious Greek food. However, they also produce some mighty delicious American food, and we may be onto their secret. It seems their to-die-for meatballs frequently contain ouzo. So, too their fried shrimp, and there must be more!  

Below are tasty “go widths” when you serve or cook with ouzo.

  • Anchovy dip
  • Bay leaves
  • Blue cheese
  • Cake ingredient
  •  cheese
  • Chicken
  • Chili peppers
  • Chocolate/cocoa
  • Dill
  • Eggs 
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Greek vinegars
  • Heavy cream
  • Honey
  • Lamb shanks
  • Mayo
  • Meatballs 
  • Mushrooms
  • onion
  • Orange and zest 
  • Oregano
  • Peas 
  • Poached fruit
  • Potatoes
  • Red wine
  • Seafood
  • Tomatoes


Foodsites with recipes suggestions: 








Marty Martindale

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.


Ouzo, A Cook’s Friend, too! — 3 Comments

  1. Since I visit Tarpon Springs often, I enjoyed this article. Congratulations on another anniversary/birthday of your magazine. Well done!