Have you started planning your next vacation to Greece, only to discover that there are surprisingly few vegan or vegetarian restaurants in the country? Has your search on HappyCow left you discouraged, wondering if you’ll be subsisting on Greek salad (hold the feta cheese, please)?
A Greek Food Experience
Street food provides an important income and is a source of cheap and tasty food. In Greece, it made its appearance in the 6th century BC with the development of cities. Lentil soup was available in the Greek "agora", however eating while wandering around the market was not appropriate.
Situated as it is at the crossroads between Eastern and Western Europe as well as Europe and Asia and sporting a cultural history going back some 4000 years it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that Greek Cuisine is some of the most varied and delicious in the world.
Ancient Greek food wasn’t too much different from the foods we eat today. Of course, the methods of processing food were much different, and the Ancient Greeks had different ways of coming about their sustenance. For example, they may have kept a goat for access to milk and cheese.
Since ancient time bread has played a major part in the Greek diet and still does today. In a Greek household,
they prefer having fresh bread, baked at home or from the local bakery.
The ancient Greek word for bread is artos, meaning flavor. Today it is called psomi, meaning morsel, a choice piece, or the best bite.
In ancient Athens white bread was considered far superior to whole grain bread. Socrates called whole grain bread “pig food”. How the tables have turned, today whole grain bread is preferred especially by the educated health-conscious wealthy.
Athens was not a good place for growing wheat. Most had to be imported either from Egypt or areas around the black sea. Bread was made from barley, in the form of cakes called maza. There was great rivalry in ancient Greece as to who had the best baker and the tastiest bread. Athens won the laurel wreath with the baker Therion, a name passed down through generations and often mentioned in Greek literature.
By 400 BC there were 50-70 different types of bread, named for the flavor, the shape, holiday, or for religious festivals: vasilopita, New Year’s bread, named after Saint Basil; tsoureki”, Easter bread, sweet and flavored with mastica from the island of Chios, usually made in a braid with red–dyed eggs placed on top; christopsomo is the bread eaten on Christmas.
Most households had their own pottery ovens in which to bake bread, then the main household task, taking up to five hours every day. Greeks invented the olythian mill – two square stones placed one on top of the other driven by slaves, making it much easier and quicker to produce large quantities of flour to make larger quantities of bread.
After the 5th century, commercial bakeries were run through the night and bread could then be found at market stalls all over Athens. By this time Greeks were making pastries, the first were koulouria cookies, or biscuits.
Sweetening and olive oil, never butter, as butter was considered barbaric by the ancient Greeks, were added to the basic bread dough formed into small circles and baked.
The bakery fourno is still the hub of Greek village life. Housewives prepare bread and cookies, amongst other Greek dishes, take them along to the bakery and for a couple of Euros the baker will bake it in his oven. Meanwhile they return home to attend to other chores. The bread is usually picked up by the husband on his way home for lunch.
In Greece, the Christmas holiday season lasts 12 days and includes Christmas, New Year and Epiphany. As old as Cristianity itself, there are many traditions and customs associated with this season, some quite old and others more recent, like the decoration of the Christmas tree and the turkey. But like everywhere else, Christmas is synonymous with excellent, tasty cuisine. Here are the typical Greek Christmas foods you can find on every table around Greece.
Greek breakfast from Crete
Wake up to and enjoy a delicious Greek breakfast! Nutritious specialties like real Greek yogurt, pure honey, the freshest fruits, free-range eggs, and traditional marmalades are just some of the Greek superfoods to boost your energy for the get-up and go to start your day.
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day, a great source of energy to start an exciting day full of experiences and new adventures! The high nutritional value and the quality of the Mediterranean products, along with their tradition and experiential character, account for Greek breakfast’s special features.
Local Cuisine: Ionian
In the Ionian, you’ll find many culinary influences from the 400 years of Venetian occupation. Corfu is famous for dishes like pastitsada, beef or cockerel stewed with pasta, tomatoes and a touch of spice – hot paprika – not found in the rest of the islands. But thick tomato sauces, redolent of the sun and enriched by garlic and herbs, are common to all of them.
The rural and urban cooking of each region is a small but important piece of the puzzle called Greek cuisine. Until fairly recently, most tourists knew of only a small number of standard dishes – moussaka, tzatziki, Greek salad, stuffed vine leaves, baklava – without realizing that each corner of this incredibly varied country has its own specialties.
This summer dive into a sea of flavours and aromas! Greek cuisine is ideal for warmer days, as it combines the benefits of the so-called Mediterranean diet with the unique taste, colour and flavour of its basic ingredients. Discover the culinary treasures of the Greek land, such as juicy fruits and vegetables, nutritious pulses, fresh fish and seafood combined into delicious dishes which will satisfy even the pickiest palate. Choose the menu that suits you best and get a taste of Greek summer!
Chios is a hospitable island all year round and offers a world of images, colours, tastes and aromas. The mild Mediterranean climate in combination with the island’s rich soil yields quality products that are used to create a range of unique local dishes. Welcome to the land that boasts beautiful medieval villages, extraordinary beaches and the lovely Chios town that open-handedly gives savoury mandarins, home-made liquors, ouzo, spoon sweets and the famous mastic. Let’s travel together to this magical island and taste Chios’ particular dishes that will definitely make a lasting impression on your taste buds.
On your journey around the Aegean Sea, you are bound to be overwhelmed by captivating scents. This is a region of countless gastronomic discoveries: delicious white or tomato sauces, tenderly cooked pulses, home-grown vegetables, bread and rusks with a robust flavor given by the local wheat and barley varieties as well as the flavourful fresh goat cheese compose a mouthwatering cuisine.
What are pulses
Pulses are dried fruit of an entire category of plants who belong to the family of legumes (Leguminosae) and took their name from the characteristic lobe that protects the seed during its formation and maturation. It is one of the key ingredients of Greek Mediterranean diet, as also a memory of our childhood, because of the persistence of Greek mothers in the consumption of pulses from all family members.
The fish dishes are the best ones as Greece is a country surrounded by the sea and fishing is a main factor of the Greek agriculture. But fish dishes are the tricky ones for the foreigners and tourist because in many Greek taverns the fishes are spelled wrongly and many west and north European tourists don't know so well the fishes of the Mediterranean.
The Greek food throughout its history and continuing today is for the Greeks a philosophy, they know that what makes a perfect feast is not just the food but also the good company. Food is nearly always prepared with the tastes of the guests in mind, should the dishes be roasted or fried, light or heavy? Much of the conversation at the dinner table centers amicably around the food. The freshness of the fish, having just leaped from the sea; the vegetables newly dug from the ground or picked from the vines of the local farmers. The host will want to proudly point out how they have attempted to provide the best and freshest produce for you to enjoy.
In Christianity, the period starting from the 25th of December, the day of Christmas, till the 5th of January is called the Twelvetide, meaning the twelve days of Christmas. During this festive season period, the annual celebration of the nativity of Jesus Christ takes place, which is concluded with the commemoration of His Baptism in the Jordan River at the day of the Epiphany.