Enjoying a meal with family and friends is part of the Greek philosophy of life and a mandatory part of the social life.
Greek salad is
perhaps the best known salad because of the divine mixture of feta cheese,
tomatoes, black olives and onions.
Greece (131 957 km²) is situated at the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula. The capital city is Athens. Greece
has several island archipelagos in the Aegean Sea (Cyclad and Sporad Islands)
and the Ionian Sea (Ionian Islands). In the
eastern part of the country (Aegean Greece) are the Olympus,
Ossa and Rhodop mountain ranges. In the western part of the country are part of
the Hellenic mountain range, which via Crete and Rhodes enter into Asia Minor.
The climate and vegetation are
typically Mediterranean. This, together with the indented coastline, provides
excellent conditions for tourism. Agriculture is based on wheat, barley, rye, oats,
corn, rice, tobacco, cotton, sugar beets, peanuts, sunflowers, olives, wine
grapes, citrus fruits, vegetables and fruits. Livestock breeding, beekeeping,
silkworm breeding, fishing and sponge collecting are all important agricultural
The main port is Piraeus, while other ports are Pátrai, Corfu
and Solun. Hellenikón airport in Athens
is the country's main airport.
The Greeks (Dorians, Ionians,
Aeolians) colonised the western part of Asia Minor
(1000 - 800 BC) and already then developed city towns, each called a polis. The leading city-states soon
began Sparta and Athens.
Through his conquests,
Alexander the Great expanded the Greek cultural influence (Hellenism). Later, Greece became a
Roman province. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Greece fell under Byzantine
influence, and from 1460 to 1821, it was under Turkish rule. Greece's
independence was recognised in 1829.
Like the majority of national
cuisines, Greek cuisine has embraced the influence of both its eastern and western
neighbours, and just as wholeheartedly has contributed to other world cuisines.
Characteristics of the cuisine
Fresh ingredients, the abundant
use of herbs and spices, olive oil (present in most meals) and simple
preparation are the recognisable characteristics of Greek cuisine.
According to tradition,
prepared dishes are placed in the middle of the table, allowing guests to choose
to their liking.
Thanks to the mild climate,
fruits and vegetables are grown naturally, which is reflected in the quality
and full flavour. Herbs (oregano, thyme, mint, rosemary...) collected in the
villages and mountains are known for their strong aroma and medicinal
Cheeses are particularly well
known, especially feta - an excellent sheep's cheese used in Greek salad.
As the sheep and goats freely
graze on meadows and feed on the native herbs, the meat also has a specific
flavour, as does the seafood.
Appetisers - meze
- Dolmadakia - an appetizer made from
rice and grape leaves with raisins, mint, onion and parsley; served hot or
- Tiropita - a salty cheese pastry;
- Spanakopita - a spinach and cheese
- Gigantes (Fasolia) - white beans baked in
- Saghanaki - deep fried mozzarella; very tasty but caloric; eaten hot with
a sprinkle of lemon juice;
- Taramosalata - smoked cod with boiled
potatoes, onions and lemon.
If you want to try a little of
everything, order the pikilia!
- Moussaka - most well known Greek
meal; a casserole of lamb, eggplant and potatoes, seasoned with olive oil,
onions, tomatoes, white wine and grated kefalotiri cheese;
- Souvlaki - cubed meat (usually
lamb) on the grill; eaten with tzatziki
sauce and served in pita bread with fresh tomatoes and onions, or as a skewer;
- Pastisio - a type of pasta;
prepared with ground meat and béchamel;
- Melitsanes - fried zucchini or
- Frikase - a casserole made of
lamb with celery and herbs;
- Keftedes - salty meatballs in
bread crumbs seasoned with onions and fried in oil;
- Calamari (squid, musk octopus,
octopus) - fried or frilled; served with different sauces; excellent when
stuffed with salty halloumi cheese,
bread crumbs, rosemary, parsley, onions and pine nuts (usually tomatoes);
- Loukanika - small sausages
prepared on the grill and served with lemon;
- Bourekakia - small meat pastries -
a delicacy from Crete.
tradition, the prepared dishes are placed in the middle of the table, allowing
guests to choose to their own liking.
The best known salad is
certainly Greek salad, a divine
combination of feta cheese, tomatoes, black olives and onions, richly seasoned
with olive oil, followed by lahano salad made from finely chopped
cabbage seasoned with oil and lemon juice.
Recipes for Greek desserts
have a strong eastern influence. Desserts are typically very sweet, and covered
in honey, spices, pine nuts and anis.
Special desserts are baklava
(pastry leaves drenched in a sweet sugar syrup and filled with walnuts and
spices) and loukoumades (a fried treat made of flour, yeast and
salt, covered in honey or a sweet syrup).
Dionysus was a Greek, of
course, and what kind of a country would it be if it did not take advantage of
the beneficial climate and fertile soil to create fantastic varieties of wine.
The white wine robola from
Kefalonia is usually served alongside tzatziki, while a dry muscat wine
is an excellent accompaniment to taramsalatu.
Enjoying a meal together with
family and friends is a part of the Greek philosophy of life and is a mandatory
part of the social life. The atmosphere of typical Greek restaurants and
taverns is very relaxed, informal and above all pleasant. The art of cuisine is
very prized, even among amateurs.
Numerous events are associated
with certain types of dishes: koufeta (sugared almonds) are
handed out at christenings and weddings, while koliva (cooked
cereals) at funerals. Each important celebrations or holiday has its own
delicacy, and recipes change throughout the year based on the seasonal
availability of ingredients.
- Respect your elders! In Greece,
paying respect to elders is strongly emphasized.
- If your business partner
offers you food or drink, do not refuse, as that is considered very rude.
- Shopping tips: it pays to
buy handicrafts, wine, carpets, pottery, lace, gold and silver jewellery.
The streets around Syntagma and Kolonaki squares in Athens are popular places to buy food
and high quality goods. Shopping is least expensive in Rhodos. Feel free
- If you would like to
learn a few Greek phrases, some important ones are:
- Hello - Yasas ili
- Good morning - Kalimera
- Good day - Herete
- Please - Parakalo
- Thank you - Efharisto
- Yes - Ne
- No - Ohi
- Sorry - Sighnomi
- How are you? - Ti
kanete or Ti kanis (informal)
- Where is...? - Pou
- How much? - Poso kani?