A Food Lover's Guide Through A Traditional Greek Menu
With the magnificent climate and stunning scenery, it is easy to see why Greece is a top global destination, but the Greek cuisine raises a visitor’s experience to the next level.
This delectable cuisine is influenced by Eastern and Western cultures with the 3 key ingredients are olive oil, wine, and wheat, often combined with fish, meat, yogurt, and vegetables to create a mouth-watering meal. Many herbs and spices are blended into Greek recipes, mostly including basil, thyme, mint, dill bay leaves, and oregano.
Recipes vary by region with each having its unique flavors, whilst each meal can differ from restaurant to restaurant dependent on their ingredient quality.
Before your main meal, appetizers, called mezes, that may be on offer would include, but not limited to, Choriatiki (Greek Salad), dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves), tzatziki (yogurt-based dip), melitzanosalata (aubergine/eggplant dip), Tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters) or Kolokithokeftedes (fried zucchini/courgette balls).
Greek Main Courses
Main course options include Kleftiko's lamb specialty, translated as “stolen”. This lamb is a slow oven-cooked meat dish, infused with lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic.
Giouvetsi is a beef stew cooked with Orzo pasta, and another very similar beef stew is called Stifado. This time it is served alongside either rice, potatoes, or pasta instead of being slow-cooked together with the starch.
Greek Soutzoukakia, are sausage meatballs of either ground pork or beef that are cooked with a red-wine sauce and served with rice.
But a dish that is possibly the most synonymous with Greek cuisine is the Souvlaki (Gyros). This is a popular fast food of meat, or sometimes vegetables, grilled on a skewer and served either inside or alongside a pita.
A vegetable with three names, eggplant/aubergine/brinjal is a favored main course ingredient. A few dishes include this vegetable, not to be confused with each other. Moussaka is spiced meat cooked in a tomato sauce and then baked with layers of bechamel sauce and fried eggplant, whereas Papoutsakia is a baked eggplant then stuffed with a tomato-based meat sauce topped with bechamel sauce and cheese, then further baked.
Greek cuisine offers a few additional lighter dish options such as Gemista (vegetables stuffed with rice), Fasolado (bean soup), and Tiropita (Greek Cheese Pie).
A Greek meal is not complete without a sweet treat, mostly made of phyllo pastry, nuts, milk, butter, sugar syrup, and semolina blended with spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. These sweet options include Blakava, Galaktoboureko (Greek custard pie), Halva, Saragli, Bougatsa (another custard pie), Portokalopita (orange pie), and the most intriguing of all, the Spoon Sweet.
With all these mouth-watering choices, it is easy to see why a trip to Greece will include many happy meals with your favorite travel companions.