This is also visible in their traditions, which include specific procedures for all stages of curing and cooking pork. For most local families, tradition was forged out of necessity, as very few households had enough livestock to provide them with fresh meat through the year. Once an animal was slaughtered, its skin was toughened and used in shoe making; its stomach was dried to make a type of yeast; and the meat was preserved for months as the delicious syglino. The name of the recipe (from glina, a local word for fat), reveals that fat played an important role in this unique curing method. Instead of smoking or salting the meat, as elsewhere in the country, the housewives of Ileia seasoned the meat with cinnamon, cloves and allspice, and boiled it before frying it in its own fat.
The fat was then left to cool and form a fragrant, protective ointment, in which the meat was covered before being stored in clay jars. Visitors can still try this jewel of Mediterranean cuisine in the Western and Southern Peloponnese, along with spit roasted pork, which is readily available since noon in most local taverns. If meat is not the highlight of one’s diet, Ileia can also be a vegetarian’s heaven. Spring brings sweet-scented strawberries from the fields of Manolada, and summer brings juicy watermelons and melons from Amaliada, as well as tomatoes from the entire region, worshipped as the most precious ingredient and used in numerous recipes – with eggs, in soups, or as a fresh sauce for local vegetables.