There are variations on this recipe from the Mediterranean to Indonesia, but it is essentially a wonderfully cool combination of cucumber and yoghurt.
The difference between cacik and tzatziki is in the yoghurt. Greeks favour a strained sheep's milk yoghurt, which like Camembert or Champagne, should have its own AOC, as there is nothing quite like it. In Turkey, where you will find cacik served throughout the meal, a natural runny yoghurt is used, which can be very refreshing. The Turks also produce an iced yoghurt and cucumber soup of the same name.
There have been olive pastes and concoctions around the mediterranean for centuries, but this dish is relatively recent. It was the invention of Chef Meynier of 'La Maison Dorée' in Marseilles and dates from the 1880s. My version uses a higher proportion of olives and includes lemon zest for added zing.
Beets are easy to grow in the garden. We initially grew them for their greens as most of the markets and shops dispense with them. The Greeks often use beet greens in one of my favourite dishes 'Horta', I'll post a recipe soon.
Few dishes capture the smells and earthiness of the region as well as this. We serve it with a young local red such as a Chinon, Saumur Champigny or St. Nicholas de Bourgeueil, served slightly chilled.
This version serves four as a first course or accompaniment. It's good with grilled chicken or lamb.
We're growing several varieties with different hues at the moment, including small plum tomatoes, which we cut in half for this dish. Use whatever small tomatoes you can get your hands on. The fresher the better, and you should aim for cherry tomato-size. Like the name suggests, this is an upside-down tart. The pastry goes on top then you flip it over (carefully) when ready to serve.