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Greek

Greek food has a distinct character of Mediterranean cuisine and also shares its characteristics with the cuisines of Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Levant. In Greek cuisine, meze or mezze is a selection of several of small dishes or appetizers, generally enjoyed with wines or anise-flavored liqueurs such as arak, ouzo, raki as ouzo or homemade tsipouro. Starters are also known as Orektika in Greek cuisine. Wide usage of dips served with bread loaf or pita bread can be traced in the Greek cuisine.

 

Classification of Greek Food

Greek Food can be broadly classified into four categories:

 

  • Foods of Crete: This largest Greek island is known for its delicious and healthy foods combined with a healthy lifestyle. Cretan cuisine is an integral part of Greek cuisine. It is popular for its olives and olive oil, snails, cheeses and cheese pastries, and barley baked goods etc.
  • Foods of Eastern Macedonia & Thrace: Eastern Macedonia & Thrace is located in northeastern Greece. In Greek cuisine it has a unique culinary history. Regional specialties consisting of hot peppers, sesame baklava, sugared almond cookies, and dishes with a strong Turkish influence are commonly eaten Greek food across the region.
  • Foods of Cyclades Island Group: In Greek cuisine, marvelous Greek recipes from the Cyclades, comprise of food from the islands of Amorgos, Andros, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Kythnos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Sikinos, Sifnos, Serifos, Syros, and Tinos.
  • Foods of Ionian Islands: Ionian Islands consists of unique Greek foods such as Corfu (Kerkyra), Paxi, Lefkatha, Ithaki, Zante (Zakynthos), Kefalonia, Ithaki, and Kythira. It adds a wide range of unique tastes to the Greek recipes. Bourtheto (a spicy fish dish), Corfiot Pastitsatha (prepared with red pepper and conga sauce), Sofritto (veal cooked in white sauce) etc are some of the specialties of this region.

 

History and Cultural Influences on Greek Food

Greek food history is more than 4,000 years old. The Greek cuisine has been greatly influenced by ancient Roman culture. However, traces of globalization can be found in Greek cuisine. History suggests that throughout wine and olive oil has played an integral part in shaping the Greek cuisine.

 

Ingredients Commonly used in Greek Food

Wide usage of olive oil, vegetables, herbs, grains, bread, wine, fish, poultry, rabbit and pork can be traced in Greek cuisine. Some of the Greek dessert dishes use filo pastry, nuts and honey. Bread, cheese, olives and olive oil, locally available fruits and vegetables are used in Greek cuisine along with herbs and spices. Arugula (Rocket), Basil, bay leaf, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, purslane, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme and wild celery/Italian cutting celery herbs are commonly used in Greek recipes. Spices like bahari, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, ginger, hot peppers, mahlab, mastic, mustard powder, nutmeg, pepper, saffron, sumac and vanilla are commonly used to bring out the best flavors in Greek foods. Feta, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Graviera, Anthotyros, Manouri, Metsovone and Mizithra are popular types of cheese used in Greek cuisine.

 

Popular Soups of Greek Cuisine

  • Avgolemono - Soup prepared with egg and lemon juice blended with broth.
  • Bourou-Bouro - vegetable and pasta soup
  • Fakes - Greek lentil soup
  • Fasolada - Popular Greek bean soup
  • Magiritsa - Soup made with lamb offal

 

Popular Vegetarian Main Dishes of Greek Cuisine

In Greek cuisine, Aginares A La Polita, Arakas Me Aginares, Bamies,:Briám, Domatokeftedhe, Gigante and Yemista are very popular authentic Greek vegetarian main dishes during fasting periods, such as the Great Fast.

 

Popular Meat Dishes of Greek Cuisine

Greek food such as Oven-baked lamb with potatoes, Bekri Meze, Chtapodi sti Skhara, Giouvetsi, Gyros, Kleftik, :Keftedes, Spetsofai and Yiouvarlakia are very popular non-vegetarian dishes around the world.

 

Popular Desserts of Greek Cuisine

Greek food includes popular traditional desserts like baklava, Diples, Galaktoboureko, Yogurt with honey or spoon sweet syrup etc.

 

Popular Drinks of Greek Cuisine

Popular drinks like Greek frappe coffee, Greek coffee, Mavrodafni, Metaxa, Ouzo, Retsina, Tentura and Tsipouro form an important part of traditional Greek food. Beer and wine are the most common drinks in Greece. Popular beer brands are Vergina, Heineken, Amstel, Zeos, Mythos, Alfa Hellenic Lager, Fix, Henninger and Kaiser.

 

Popular Cheesespread and Dips of Greek Cuisine

Cheese, spread and dips are widely used in making Greek food. There is a large range of cheeses made in different parts of Greece. Various regions across Greece. Anthotyros, Formaela, Feta, Graviera, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Kefalograviera, Myzithra, Manouri and Metsovone are some of the more popular types of cheese found in Greece. In Greek cuisine Tyrokavteri is a well known spread or dip made with feta cheese, roasted red peppers, and garlic. Depending on the quantity of red peppers being used in Tyrokavteri, it can be spicy hot or mild.

 

Special Occasions Greek Food

Roast lamb seasoned with herbs, Mayeritsa (Easter soup with lamb meat and bones and vegetables), Lambropsoma (Easter bread), Rice or orzo (a rice-shaped pasta), Greek Salad, Patates Fourno Riganates (Baked Potatoes with Oregano), Finikia, kourabiethes, Frouta Ke Yaourti (Fruit Salad) and Baklava are some popular special occasions Greek food.

 

Traditional Greek Recipes

One of the most popular Greek traditional foods is Souvlaki which is a kind of skewered, grilled meat in pita bread with a garlic, cucumber, and yogurt popularly known as tzatziki dip. One more well-liked Greek food is pastitsio which consists of macaroni baked with minced meat and bachamel sauce. Horiatiki salata, a Greek vegetarian salad prepared with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives i and Gemista i.e. stuffed tomatoes and eggplants with rice are also popular traditional Greek recipes.

 

Popular Special Occasions or Holiday Greek Cuisine

Roast lamb seasoned with herbs, Mayeritsa (Easter soup with lamb meat and bones and vegetables), Lambropsoma (Easter bread), Rice or orzo (a rice-shaped pasta), Greek Salad, Patates Fourno Riganates (Baked Potatoes with Oregano), Finikia, kourabiethes, Frouta Ke Yaourti (Fruit Salad) and Baklava are some popular special occasions Greek food.