Greek cooking offers an incredibly rich and diverse array of foods and beverages that are the culmination of literally thousands of years of living, cooking, and eating. While each Greek meal is fresh and inviting, it is also a trip back through Greece's history.
With 20 percent of Greece made up of islands - and no part of the Greek mainland more than 90 miles from the sea - fish and seafood are a popular and common part of the Greek diet. Lamb and goat (kid) are the traditional meats of holidays and festivals, and poultry, beef, and pork are also in plentiful supply.
Traditionally, food in Greece is made from fresh ingredients. They use vegetables, pulses, nuts, yogurt, cheese, grains, fish and small amounts of meat.
A usual meal at a taverna will typically include several small dishes (meze) which are shared with everyone, just like the bill. There is a large variety, and everyone gets to taste everything.
But that’s not all. The Mediterranean diet, where Greek cuisine falls under, is one of the healthiest in the world! Due to the quality and variety of ingredients, Greek dishes are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, which help maintain good health.
Most Greek cook books offer quantities when it comes to recipes. However, most Greek people, especially yiayias (grandmas) don’t really measure quantities when cooking.
The best measuring system in Greece is “with the eye”, i.e. “however much it takes”. Therefore, the question “how many olives go in a Greek salad?” doesn’t really have an answer.
Eating food in Greece is a big thing. Dining out is a social event, where you get to share a lot more than just food, just like Greek coffee culture. Meals that go on for hours are very typical of Greece. Food, wine and good company make for a great combination, and an ideal setting to discuss everything under the sun!
In the Greek culture, Easter begins with the first day of Lent, when people get ready for the resurrection of Christ by cleansing their bodies. Food eaten during this time has the word "nistisima" after it, indicating that it doesn't contain any of the restricted foods. The traditional Easter bread, Tsoureki, has a slightly sweet flavor. Greeks also make Greek Easter cookies to share with friends and visitors. Easter Sunday in the culture is a time of celebration. The favorite Easter soup is mayeritsa, which is made with lamb organs and seasonings.
During the Christmas holidays, the Greek custom includes melomakarona (cookies topped with honey and walnuts) and kourabiethes (almond sugar cookies). Greeks also enjoy a variety of cakes and other desserts.