Introduction to Greek Cuisine
Anyone who has visited Greece will surely smile whenever the topic of Greek cuisine comes up. There is nothing similar to Greek food anywhere else in the world. Greek food is made up of some of the most unique, delicious and flavorful dishes in the world. It is varied and diverse but is often characterized by the emphasis on certain ingredients such as olives, olive oil, vegetables, cheeses, fish and herbs. Filo pastry is a common item used in the preparation as well.
Olives and Olive Oil
The best way to understand Greek cuisine is to have a feel for the ingredients that make up the more popular dishes. When you think about Greek dishes, the first thing you will come across is olives. Olives are huge in Greek food culture. Although you may not know, there are many varieties of olives. From green to black, from Peloponessos to Kalamata, there is an olive for every single person. Not liking olives in Greece is akin to not liking candy in America. Olives and olive oil are used in almost every dish in Greek cuisine, as an ingredient, salad dressing or garnish.
Besides olive, another staple of Greek cuisine is the wonderful Greek bread. Local bakeries serve up freshly baked bread when it comes to meal times. It is eaten with olive oil or whatever sauce comes with the main course.
Vegetables and fruit are always served during meal times. Tomatoes are widely used in many Greek dishes – sometimes stuffed with rice or meat but sometimes just served with olive oil. The tomatoes are sometimes also dipped in flour and deep fried to make tomato keftedes, a local delicacy. Besides tomatoes, potatoes are another common vegetable used. They can be used in stews or just plain roasted with olives oil and garlic.
As for the main dish, many of the ingredients used come from meat as Greeks are major meat eaters. All kinds of meats such as lamb, pork, beef, chicken and even rabbit are used regularly. In the preparation, these meats are usually seasoned with garlic, olive oil and onions. Of all the meat items, lamb is by far the most popular meat ingredients among the Greeks. For an Easter meal, roast lamb is the default selection while roast lamb and potatoes are the typical Sunday evening meal in many Greek family homes.
Greek Dishes Are Heavily Influenced by the Mediterranean Sea
As the country borders the Mediterranean Sea, Greek cuisine is influence by the fresh ingredients that are available in the area. This makes seafood a popular choice as a main dish. All kinds of seafood are available with the popular ones being calamari, smelt and sardines while lobsters are usually the most expensive. If you are dining in a Greek restaurant, it is recommended that you do inspect that the fish is fresh as there are some unscrupulous restaurateurs who favor scamming unsuspecting tourists. Common seafood items found on restaurant menus are octopus, shrimps, mussels and cod.
Greek cuisine is very healthy because of the liberal use of olive oil. The food is tasty and good for your health, making it the perfect combination.