Sharing a meal with family and friends is part of the Greek philosophy of life and a mandatory part of the social life.
Greek salad is
possibly the best known salad due to the divine mixture of feta cheese,
tomatoes, black olives and onions.
Greece (131 957 km²) is situated at the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula. The capital city is Athens. Greece
has several island archipelagos in the Aegean Sea (Cyclad and Sporad Islands)
and the Ionian Sea (Ionian Islands). In the
eastern part of the country (Aegean Greece) are the Olympus, Ossa and Rhodop
mountain ranges, and to the west is part of the Hellenic mountain range, which
via Crete and Rhodes enters into Asia Minor.
The climate and vegetation are
typically Mediterranean which, along with the
indented coastline, provides excellent conditions for tourism. Agriculture is
based on wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, rice, tobacco, cotton, sugar beets,
peanuts, sunflowers, olives, wine grapes, citrus fruits, vegetables and fruits.
Livestock breeding, beekeeping, silkworm breeding, fishing and sponge
collecting are all important agricultural activities.
The main port is Piraeus, while the other ports are; Pátrai, Corfu and Solun. Hellenikón airport in Athens is the country's main airport.
The Greeks (Dorians, Ionians,
Aeolians) colonised the western part of Asia Minor
(1000 - 800 BC) and had already developed city towns, each called a polis. Sparta
and Athens soon
became the leading states.
Through his conquests,
Alexander the Great expanded the Greek cultural influence (Hellenism). Later
became a Roman province. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Greece fell
under Byzantine influence and from 1460 to 1821, it was under Turkish rule. Greece's
independence was recognised in 1829.
Like the majority of national
cuisines, Greek cuisine has embraced the influence of both its eastern and
western neighbours, just as it wholeheartedly contributes to other world
Characteristics of the cuisine
Fresh ingredients, the
abundant use of herbs and spices, olive oil (present in most meals) and simple
preparation are the recognisable characteristics of Greek cuisine.
According to tradition,
prepared dishes are placed in the middle of the table, allowing guests to
choose as they like.
Due to the mild climate,
fruits and vegetables are grown naturally, which is reflected in the quality
and full flavour. Herbs (oregano, thyme, mint, rosemary...) collected in the
villages and mountains are known for their strong aroma and medicinal
Cheeses are particularly well
known, especially feta - an excellent sheep's cheese used in Greek salad.
As the sheep and goats freely
graze on meadows and feed on the native herbs, it provides the meat with a
specific, delicious flavour, as does the ocean floor to the delicious seafood.
- Dolmadakia - an appetizer made from
rice and grape leaves with raisins, mint, onion and parsley; served hot or
- Tiropita - a salty cheese pastry;
- Spanakopita - a spinach and cheese
- Gigantes (Fasolia) - white beans baked in
- Saghanaki - deep fried mozzarella; very tasty but high in calories; eaten
hot with a sprinkle of lemon juice;
- Taramosalata - smoked cod with boiled
potatoes, onions and lemon.
If you want to try a little
bit of everything, order the pikilia!
- Moussaka - most well known Greek
meal; a casserole of lamb, eggplant and potatoes, seasoned with olive oil,
onions, tomatoes, white wine and grated kefalotiri cheese;
- Souvlaki - cubed meat (usually
lamb) on the grill; eaten with tzatziki
sauce and served in pita bread with fresh tomatoes and onions, or as a
- Pastitsio - a type of pasta;
prepared with ground meat and béchamel;
- Melitsanes - fried zucchini or
- Frikase - a casserole made of
lamb with celery and herbs;
- Keftedes - salty meatballs in
bread crumbs seasoned with onions and fried in oil;
- Calamari (squid, musk octopus,
octopus) - fried or grilled; served with different sauces; excellent when
stuffed with salty halloumi cheese, bread crumbs, rosemary,
parsley, onions and pine nuts
- Loukanika - small sausages
prepared on the grill and served with lemon;
- Bourekakia - small meat pastries -
a delicacy from Crete.
The best known salad is
certainly Greek salad, a divine
combination of feta cheese, tomatoes, black olives and onions, richly seasoned
with olive oil. This is followed by lahano salad made from finely
chopped cabbage seasoned with oil and lemon juice.
Recipes for Greek desserts
have a strong eastern influence. They are typically very sweet, and covered in
honey, spices, pine nuts and anis.
Special desserts are baklava
(pastry leaves drenched in a sweet sugar syrup and filled with walnuts and
spices) and loukoumades (a fried treat made from flour, yeast and
salt, covered in honey or a sweet syrup).
Dionysus was a Greek, of
course, and what kind of a country would it be, if it did not take the
advantage of the great climate and
fertile soil to create fantastic varieties of wine. The white wine robola from Kefalonia is usually served alongside tzatziki,
while a dry muscat wine is an excellent accompaniment to taramsalata.
Sharing a meal with family and
friends is a part of the Greek philosophy of life and is a mandatory part of
the social life. The feel of typical Greek restaurants and taverns, is very
relaxed, informal and above all pleasant. The art of cuisine is very prized,
even among the amateur cooks.
tradition, the prepared dishes are placed in the middle of the table, allowing
guests to choose as they like.
Numerous events are associated
with certain types of dishes: koufeta (sugared almonds) are
handed out at christenings and weddings, while koliva (cooked
cereals) at funerals. Each important celebration or a holiday has its own delicacy, and recipes change throughout the
year based on the seasonal availability of ingredients.
- Respect your elders! In Greece,
paying respect to elders is strongly emphasized.
- If a business partner
offers you food or drink, do not refuse, as that is considered very rude.
- Shopping tips: it pays to
buy handicrafts, wine, carpets, pottery, lace, gold and silver jewellery.
The streets around Syntagma and Kolonaki squares in Athens are popular places to buy food
and high quality goods. Shopping is least expensive in Rhodos. So feel
free to bargain!
- If you would like to
learn a few Greek phrases, some important ones are:
- Hello - Yasas or Yasu
- Good morning - Kalimera
- Good day - Herete
- Please - Parakalo
- Thank you - Efharisto
- Yes - Ne
- No - Ohi
- Sorry - Sighnomi
- How are you? - Ti
kanete or Ti kanis (informal)
- Where is...? - Pou
- How much? - Poso kani?