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Greece Cuisine
 
 
 

General

Greek cuisine is typical of Mediterranean cuisine which has similarities with the cuisines of Southern France, Italy, the Balkans, Anatolia and the Middle East. The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cooking is olive oil, which is present in almost every dish. It is produced from the trees prominent throughout the region, and adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. The basic grain in Greece is wheat, though barley is also grown. Important vegetables include tomato, eggplant, potato, green beans, okra, green peppers and onions. Honey in Greece is mainly flower-honey from the nectar of fruit and citrus trees (lemon, orange, bigarade trees), thyme honey and pine honey from conifer trees. Mastic is grown on the Aegean island of Chios. Greek cuisine uses some flavourings more often than do other Mediterranean cuisines: oregano rigani, mint dhiosmo, garlic, onion, dill, salt and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Many Greek recipes use "sweet" spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon and cloves in stews. Greek flavour is often characterised by the use of mint and nutmeg. Other typical ingredients are lamb, pork, kalamata olives, feta cheese, grape leaves, zucchini and yogurt. Dessert items are dominated by nuts and honey. The terrain has tended to favour the production of goats and sheep over cattle, and thus beef dishes tend to be a rarity by comparison. Fish dishes are also common, especially in coastal regions and the islands. A great variety of cheese types are used in Greek cuisine, including Feta, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Graviera, Anthotyros, Manouri, Metsovone and Mizithra. Some dishes use phyllo pastry. Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach.

Appetizers

Meze is a collective name for a variety of small dishes, typically served with wine, ouzo or homemade tsipouro. Dips are served with loaf bread or pita bread. In some regions, dried bread (paximadhi) is softened in water. Orektika is the formal name for appetizers and is often used as a reference to eating a first course of a cuisine other than Greek cuisine. Some of these mezes are:
  • Boureki: Individually wrapped vegetable and meat fillings in phyllo pastry or dough.
  • Dolmades: Grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables, meat is also often included.
  • Fava: Yellow split pea puree or other bean purees; sometimes made of fava beans.
  • Horiatiki: The so-called Greek Salad is known in Greece as Village/Country Salad.
  • Horta: Wild or cultivated greens, steamed or blanched and made into salad, simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. They can either be eaten as a light meal with potatoes (especially during Lent, in lieu of fish or meat).
  • Kolokythoanthoi: Zucchini flowers stuffed with rice or cheese and herbs.
  • Koukkia: Fava beans.
  • Lachanosalata: Cabbage salad – very finely shredded cabbage with salt, olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar dressing.
  • Marides tiganites: Deep-fried whitebait, usually served with lemon wedges.
  • Melitzanosalata: Aubergine (eggplant) salad.
  • Pantzarosalata: Beetroot salad with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Patata salata: Potato salad with olive oil, finely sliced onions, lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Saganaki: Fried cheese; the word "saganaki" means a small cooking pan, and can be applied to many other foods.
  • Skordalia: Thick garlic and potato puree, usually accompanies deep fried fish/cod.
  • Spanakopita: Spinach wrapped in phyllo pastry.
  • Taramosalata: Fish roe mixed with boiled potatoes or moistened breadcrumbs.
  • Tzatziki: Yoghurt with cucumber and garlic puree, used as a dip.
  • Tyropita: Cheese (usually feta) wrapped in phyllo pastry.
Many other things are wrapped in phyllo pastry, either in bite-size triangles or in large sheets: kotopita (chicken), spanakotyropita (spinach and cheese), hortopita (greens), kreatopita (meat pie, using ground meat), etc.

Meat Dishes

Some famous Greek meat dishes include:
  • Baked lamb with potatoes is one of the most common Greek dishes. There are many variations with additional ingredients.
  • Bekri Meze: 'Drunkard's snack', diced beef marinated in wine, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, olive oil and cooked slowly.
  • Giouvetsi: Baked lamb in clay pot with Kritharaki.
  • Païdakia: Grilled lamb chops with lemon, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Grilled octopus in vinegar, oil and oregano, accompanied by Ouzo.
  • Gyros: Meat roasted on a vertically turning spit and served with sauce (often tzatziki) and garnishes (tomato, onions) on pita bread; a popular fast food.
  • Kleftiko: This is lamb slow-baked on the bone, first marinated in garlic and lemon juice, originally cooked in a pit oven.
  • Keftedes: Fried meatballs with oregano and mint.
  • Kotopoulo pilafi : Mostly popular on the island of Crete.
  • Moussaka: Eggplant casserole; there are other variations besides eggplant, such as zucchini or rice, but the eggplant version melitzanes moussaka is most popular.
  • Pastitsio: A baked pasta dish with a filling of ground meat and a Bechamel sauce top.
  • Hirino me selino/Hirino selinato: Pork with celery.
  • Soutzoukakia Smyrneika: Large meatballs with cumin, cinnamon and garlic and served in a tomato sauce.
  • Souvlaki: Anything grilled on a skewer (chicken, pork, swordfish, shrimp). Most common is pork or chicken, often marinated in oil, salt, pepper, oregano and lemon.
  • Spetsofai: A dish with country sausages, peppers, onions and wine. Originates from Mt. Pelion.
  • Stifado: Game (rabbit, venison etc.)stew with pearl onions, red wine and cinnamon.

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