As in any culture of the world, Greek culinary traditions are the result of two interrelated factors: geographical location and history. Greece is the land of the sea and mountains, but the cuisine of mainland Greece, where mountains and plains predominate, differs significantly from the cuisine of the island, where the sea element has said its weighty word in the culture of the Greeks.
According to ANDYEDUCATION, the culinary traditions of Greek cuisine have been formed for quite a long time – more than 3500 thousand years. During this time, it absorbed the traditions of many peoples who came to the Greek lands, some with peace, some with war. But she herself was extremely curious and looked to her neighbors in the Mediterranean, went to the eastern countries, by the will of fate for many years she was scattered around the globe, exchanging the secrets of the culinary craft with other peoples. But absorbing the new, Greek cuisine remained true to itself – the traditions of the cuisine that people created at the dawn of mankind are sacredly preserved to this day.
A Greek meal is much more than just a meal. Perhaps it is at the dinner table that the most active part of the life of the Greeks takes place. Families and friends gather at the table, put aside all their affairs and forget about troubles for several hours, enjoying communication, relaxation, and, of course, their favorite dishes. Just a few hours, because the Greek meal lasts a long time. And it has always been like this – just remember Homer or Plato, descriptions of lavish feasts, symposiums with delicious dishes and drinks, behind which political destinies were decided, world history was made.
So what is Greek cuisine? First of all, Greek cuisine is simple. The not too generous land taught the Greeks to appreciate every blade of grass, every fruit, even mountain herbs do not disappear without work – their delicate taste complements dishes that are already pleasant for the soul and stomach. Everything that can be grown on Greek soil is tried to be served fresh, and this is especially true for vegetables.
Vegetables have a special place in Greek cuisine: they are always present at every meal – in salads, as a side dish and on their own. More vegetables are eaten in Greece than in any other European country. If one of the most important fruit crops in Greek cuisine is olives, then eggplant is perhaps one of the most beloved vegetables. It is part of the famous Greek casserole – moussaka or moussaka, a variety of salads, eggplant baked, stuffed, stewed. Among other vegetables, artichokes, tomatoes, beans, carrots and stuffed grape leaves are popular among the Greeks. From spices and spices, the Greeks most of all love onion, garlic, celery and cinnamon.
Thanks to the sea (which, by the way, is visible from almost every corner of any island), Greek cuisine is replete with a variety of seafood: red mullet, eels, swordfish, octopus, squid, shrimp, mussels, cuttlefish, lobsters and many other seafood. You can always taste fish dishes in fish taverns (psarotavena), which are usually located on the seashore.
Popular varieties of meat are lamb and pork, but the latter is eaten somewhat less frequently. Perhaps this is due to the fact that during the Turkish rule, pork almost disappeared from the menu of Greek cuisine. Of poultry, the Greeks prefer chicken meat. Traditional meat dishes are usually minced or finely chopped meat dishes. This cooking method is explained quite simply: when there were no refrigerators, it was the fastest way to bring fresh meat to readiness. Most Greek dishes are prepared with olive oil and seasoned with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Greece is especially proud of its cheeses, perhaps even the French outdid the Greeks in their love for this product – on average, 23 kg of cheese per capita per year, and according to statistics, this is the highest figure in Europe. There are 20 types of local cheeses in Greece, but the most famous, which can be ordered in almost every restaurant, are feta and kefalotiri. Feta is a white soft and salty cheese made from sheep’s milk, kefalotiri is a semi-hard cheese of white-yellow color. Of the other more or less famous varieties, one can name gravera, kasseri, kefalograviera, kopanisti, manuri, mizithra, anfotiro, telemes, tulumotiri.
Greeks drink a lot of coffee and almost never drink tea. At least not the one the rest of the world is used to. After the tragic year of 1974, when the Turks slaughtered half the population of Crete, “Greek coffee” appeared, or rather, the name of the traditional Turkish coffee changed. It is customary to serve coffee with sweets, of which there is a wide variety in Greece, and a glass of water.
By the way, water and bread are products that are especially respected by the Greeks. They are present at every meal, while the bread is served exclusively fresh and there is a special variety for almost every dish. Water is a symbol of hospitality for the Greeks, it is the first thing that is served to a guest, and in almost all catering establishments water is not sold – it is served free of charge to anyone who wants it.