Cuisine of Greece by: Toribio Medina

Crete and Evia are its two largest islands and major island groups include the Argo-Saronic, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Ionian, Northeast Aegean and Sporades.

Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine, and meat.

Bread, wine and the olive comprised the foundation of their diet, and continued to do so until well into the 300s AD. Vegetables were also highly important. Greeks put a great deal of effort and study into increasing the yield of their agricultural crops. Beans were an important source of protein, though followers of Pythagoras were taught to avoid them

The Greeks didn't drink wine with their meals. Wine was drunk separately, at symposiums, which were only for men, with the occasional rare appearance of a woman.

The Greeks did not have any eating utensils, so they ate with their hands. Bread was often used to scoop out thick soups. Bread was also used as a napkin to clean hands. After being used as a napkin, the bread was then thrown on the floor for the dogs or slaves to clean up at a later time.

In the 6th century BC, Solon, the great Athenian legislator, drafted the first law for the protection of the olive tree excluding the uncontrolled felling. The olive tree was a symbol in ancient Greece and the olive oil was used not only for its valuable nutritional quality but also for medical purposes

Olives and Olive Oil: Greek meals are accompanied by local olives, some cured in a hearty sea salt brine, others like wrinkly throubes, eaten uncured from the tree. Similarly, olive oil, the elixir of Greece, is used liberally in cooking and salads, and drizzled over most dips and dishes. Many tavernas use their own oil.

Dolmades: Each region in Greece, in fact, each household, has its variation on the classic grape leaf-wrapped rice parcel. Eaten as a finger food, some stuffed vine leaves incorporate mincemeat with the long-grain rice, others, simply a heady combination of thyme, dill, fennel, oregano or pine nuts.

Grilled meat: Greeks are master of charcoal-grilled and spit-roasted meats. Souvlaki is still Greece’s favourite fast food, both the gyros and skewered meat versions wrapped in pitta bread, with tomato, onion and lashings of tzatziki. At the taverna, local free-range lamb and pork dominate, though kid goat is also a favourite.

Courgette Balls: Sometimes in the form of a patty, sometimes in a lightly fried ball, make sure to try these starters any chance you get. The body of the fritter is usually made of grated or pureed courgette blended with dill, mint, or other top-secret spice combinations. Paired with tzatziki, for its cooling freshness, you just can’t lose.

Honey and Baklava: Greeks love their sweets, often based on olive oil and honey combinations, with flaky filo pastry. The classic baklava is a start, layering honey, filo and ground nuts. Or try galaktoboureko, a sinful custard-filled pastry. Simply, pour a lovely dollop of local thyme honey over fresh Greek yogurt.

Octopus: Along harbours, octopus hung out to dry like washing is one of the iconic images of Greece. Grilled or marinated, it makes a fine meze, or as an entree stew it in wine sauce and serve it with pasta.

Credits:

Created with images by Dimitris Graffin - "Greece crowning Lord Byron, Vasilissis Olgas ave. - "Η Ελλάς τον Βύρωνα", λεωφόρος Βασιλίσσης Όλγας"

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