The Greek diet is an important part of the Mediterranean cuisine and has something in common with the traditional cuisine of Italy, the Balkans, Turkey and the Levant.
Greece has one of the oldest gastronomic traditions in the world. It’s a tradition of flavours, materials and styles that goes from prehistory to the present.
Vegetables, olive oil, granola, fish, wine, and meat are commonly used in modern Greek cuisine. Other important products are olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, and yogurt. The main characteristics of Greek sweets are nuts and honey, while various fruits are often used. The latter are the basic material for the production of the so-called spoon sweets.
Another important aspect of Greek cuisine is the appetizers, also known as “mezedes”, a timeless name known around the world. Mention a traditional selection of side dishes usually served in taverns and restaurants with wine, ouzo or tsipouro.
Since the ancient times, the way food and sweets were prepared in different parts of the country, from place to place, household to household, and restaurant to restaurant, contributed to the creation of the famous traditional Greek cuisine.
Traditional Greek cuisine, based on ingredients rather than complex techniques, had to invent many ways to use the few seasonal produce.
Greek cuisine has been influenced by a variety of different cuisines and traditions. The influence of Turkey is evident today in starters such as tzatziki, but also in main dishes such as Imam Baildi (baked eggplant with a filling of tomatoes, onions, garlic and parsley), moussaka and the famous sweets baklava and kataifi.
It was also influenced by the Venetian tradition, especially in the areas of the Ionian Islands, where the Venetians lived for many years as conquerors, leaving the Ionian Islands people with a taste for pasta and various pies.
Greek cuisine offers a breathtaking, rich selection of dishes and drinks and is the cultural heritage of the centuries. In every Greek recipe, the combination of fresh ingredients and culinary techniques is a unique gastronomic journey into the history of Greece.
What are the most classic Greek foods?
Let’s take a look at the most traditional Greek food that you will surely have heard again!
Characteristic of the Greek table is the variety of dishes in which nobody monopolizes the taste, but all together form a delicious ensemble.
The queen of Greek cuisine today is the well-known horiatiki or Greek salad, which consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese, olives and oregano. All of this, of course, would not have the same value if it were not accompanied by Greek oil.
Oil, with its high nutritional value, is the basis of Greek cuisine. It is not left out in any Greek dish and it is no secret that it is used in abundance by the “older” housewives, our grandmothers! You can try it with oven baked bread.
Homemade moussaka is one of the greek food recipes prepared for family tables by mothers and grandmothers. It is urban food made by housewives who can spend a lot of time preparing it. It is a relatively “hard” meal as many describe it.
There are four stages of cooking: frying for eggplant and potatoes, boiling for bechamel, deep-frying for minced meat with tomato sauce, baking at the end. You can find the traditional recipe here, or better yet, buy it ready-made and try it right away!
Here you can find the traditional Greek recipe for moussaka.
Another food that stands out in Greece is the traditional pita breads. Using the right filo pastry and feta or greek meatballs you can make so many different flavours. And let’s not forget the lemon juice added on top of almost every recipe.
Also, pies for every day, pies for special occasions, easy to prepare or more difficult, salty, sweet, with or without phyllo pastry. Vegetable cake, cheesecake, spanakopita (spinach pie), cabbage pie, minced meat pie, pumpkin pie, chicken pie and the list goes on and on. The spinach pie/ spanakopita has its honor in Epirus, but also in the rest of Greece!
If we were to explain to a tourist what Greek food is, we would suggest a group of foods such as: Moussaka, gemista, dolmadakia, ladera, horiatiki, goat in a saucepan with potatoes. All these go well with red wine.
But let’s not forget that Greece is a country with a wide variety of sweets. Yogurt with honey is a widespread and popular Greek dessert that is preferred at all times.
One of the most classic sweets offered in the villages and towns is the traditional Greek dessert of the spoon. These are sugary fruits of any season, which must be of excellent quality (quince, fig, orange, chestnut, apricot, cherry).
Also traditional are the syrupy sweets, which are mainly based on nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts), homemade leaf, various dried fruits and finally honey,which gives these sweets a characteristic aroma and high nutritional value.
Well-known sweets are Galaktoboureko, Baklava, Kadaifi, Melomakarona, Halva, Ravani.