The Indulgent and Rich Cuisine of Greece

Cuisine of Greece

In terms of tourism, Greece has had a lot going for it for decades now. It has been a number one spot for British holidaymakers both young and old, and with all those paradise-like islands dotted through the seas, it has also attracted many international visitors from all corners of the globe looking for white sands and luxury.

The sun, sea and history might be a selling point for the country, but the varied and rich cuisine of Greece should also be a reason alone to visit this European destination. The food isn’t renowned for being refined or complex, but it’s those simple yet flavourful combinations that Greece has been churning out for centuries that will keep every kind of visitor happy.

Olive oil

Greece has the highest consumption per person of olive oil than anywhere else on the planet – you will find it glazes just about everything in the country. It is said that the first wild olive trees were grown in Greece, and as became domesticated it spread to Turkey, the Middle East and beyond.

Oil might just seem like an average ingredient, but until you’ve tasted it pure and fresh from a country that has been producing it for thousands of years, you never really understand how delicious a good olive oil can be. Don’t forget to try plenty of olives whilst you’re over there, too.

Cheeses

Couple a plate of black olives, oil, and perhaps some juicy tomatoes with Greek cheese and you have yourself a typical appetizer. The most famous cheese from Greece has to be feta, which has managed to work its way into normal life in the Western world, particularly North America and the UK.

Feta isn’t the only cheese on offer from the country, however, and they actually boast dozens of others that have barely made it out of Greece. Graviera is a hard cheese that’s slightly sweeter than feta and is slowly making its way across the globe. You may have also heard of Kaseri, which can be compared to mozzarella but with a slightly tangier taste. There is also an appetizer names Saganaki, which is often made from fried Kefalograviera cheese, but other replacements are Halloumi or Kefalotiri. In short, if cheese if your thing, Greece will be too.

Main dishes

Moussaka is probably the most famous dish from Greece, and it is a layered dish of eggplant and meat topped with Béchamel sauce. There are numerous variations that can come from surrounding countries and the popularity of the dish has spread, but Greece is considered by many to be the birthplace so I would go with what they know.

Placing meat on a vertical spit and cooking it as it turns in front of a heat source is the first step toward making the very popular Greek ‘gyro’. The meat is then sliced from the spit and wrapped up in pita with tomatoes and onions topped off with tzatziki, a yoghurt-based dip with cucumbers and garlic. Sadly the tradition of the gyro has been cheapened somewhat as it’s renowned in places like the UK for being a fatty snack to eat after a heavy night out, but don’t let that put you off trying gyros in their original birthplace.

Drink

Greece is known for its very strong tasting aperitifs, such as ouzo or tsiporo (sometimes known as raki). These are by no means designed to be drunk quickly or in large volumes, and should only be sipped just before or after a meal. The flavour of these can be rich with aniseed and are an acquired taste to develop.

Greece has been producing wine for thousands of years now, going all the way back to ancient times. It might not be within the leagues of France or Argentina in terms of the best quality in the world, but you can still find good wines in restaurants all over the country.

There’s so much to do in Greece that sampling all of the fine Greek cuisine over there might not be your top priority, but during a visit keep your eyes and nose peeled for the rich variety of food the country has to offer.


Photo credit: By Terren [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Emma

Emma Higgins has been writing and traveling on and off since 2009. Her blog, Gotta Keep Movin’ is full of stories and advice from her trips, which include Europe, India, Morocco, South America, the USA and Canada. Her main focuses are budget travel and volunteering, and she has been involved in sustainable farming in Argentina, animal shelters in Peru, and even tried her hand at making goats cheese in British Columbia. Follow her travels on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Categories: Food

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