Greek food offers an incredibly rich and diverse array of foods and beverages that are the result of literally thousands of years of living, cooking, and eating. While each Greek meal is fresh and inviting, the variety of Greek Cuisine is yet to be discovered by the world, since what we recognise today as Greek food is only a fraction of it.
But what is Greek cuisine if not the luscious gyros with the deliciously seasoned chunks of meat wrapped in pita bread? While gyros and souvlaki are among the top favorite street food in Greece, homemade meals are a completely different story.
Greek Cuisine Introduction consists of ten findings and facts about the eating habits of Greeks, and outline the heart of Greek food.
1. Greek cuisine is mostly vegetarian and vegan friendly.
The idea of following a balanced diet dates back to antiquity. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” says Hippocrates around 400BC. Adding to that, the 180 days per year that Greeks are called to follow a strictly vegan diet for religious reasons, you can imagine the richness in plant based recipes.
2. Greek food is seasonal and based on the availability of fresh ingredients.
Even though Greeks mastered the art of preserving techniques ages ago, their cuisine is heavily seasonal, regional and based on ingredients they could have access to in their immediate environment or grow for themselves.
3. Olive oil is the main source of fat.
Yes it is, and don’t be afraid to use it as often as you can! Ideally drizzle it fresh over your dish or salad to get all it’s nutritional benefits along with it’s impeccable fresh aromas.
4. Beans and fish are the main sources of protein.
Beans, chickpeas, lentils and yellow split peas are your greatest sources of protein and you can’t imagine the variety of dishes you can create with them.
5. Red meat is typically consumed once a week and on special occasions.
Traditionally, meat was served on family Sunday meals and special occasions such as celebrations and weddings. The rest of the week most dishes were vegetarian and only a few contained fish or sea-food.
6. Fresh herbs and spices are very important.
Though Greek food is not heavily spiced, certain flavorings such as oregano, mint, dill, onion, garlic and laurel leaves, are used to complement and highlight the main ingredients. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme, parsley and fennel seed.
7. It’s all about the colours.
Colorful fresh vegetables and herbs, ripe mediterranean tomatoes and fresh green-gold olive oil, create this magnificent color palette in every dish.
8. Greeks accompany food with alcohol.
Not all the meals of-course. The rule of thumb is, choose between lunch or dinner and accompany it with a glass of good local wine. Ouzo and tsipouro are the top traditional spirits in Greece. They can be a good excuse to take a pause and meet with friends.This pause calls for good companion and fine tapas, or as Greeks call them “meze”. Munching on a meze will temper the alcohol and prolong the experience.
9. Bread accompanies most of the meals.
Truth is Greeks eat bread or pita bread with every meal but Greek bread contains no additives and preservatives which makes all the difference in the world.
10. Food sharing culture.
It’s not just about food, it’s the whole experience. Embrace the culture and share the huge variety of meze – Greek word for tapas – with your friends.