Greeks love hearty soups that are meals in themselves. Mezedes are comprised of such items as melitzanosalata (mashed eggplant with oil, lemon and garlic), taramosalata (Greek caviar spread), dolmadakia (meat or rice rolled in grapevine leaves ), kalamarakia (deep fried), tyropitakia (cheese wrapped in strudel leaves), kolokithakia (deep fried zucchini) usually served with tsatsiki (cucumber, yogurt and garlic spread), keftedes (meatballs), stuffed peppers and tomatoes, pickled octopus, fried eggplant slices, skordalia and more. The main course is a casserole or grilled meat or fish.
are also many delectable meat stews to choose from,
as well as plain grilled cuts of meat and of course
the well-known charcoal grilled lamb or pork called
souvlaki. Fish and shellfish are excellent when caught,
cooked and eaten the same day. Salad is usually ordered
with the main course and can be prepared with fresh
vegetables or cooked dandelions (greens are boiled in
water, drained and served with oil and lemon). Horiatiki,
the usual Greek salad, consists of tomato slices, onions,
cucumber slices, olives and feta cheese dressed with
oil and vinegar.
All seasonal vegetables, such as artichokes, beans,
peas, carrots, and zucchini are often cooked and served
together in the casserole dishes rather than separately.
Greece produces a variety of cheeses, including some
very interesting regional specialties. But the most
commonly offered in restaurants are feta (white semisoft
and salted), kasseri (yellow semi-soft), graviera (hard)
and manouri (unsalted, creamy and fattening).
Desserts are a delectable treat, including baklava (consisting
of strudel leaves and walnuts), kataifi (which consists
of nuts wrapped in shredded wheat with a honey syrup),
yogurt with honey and halva. In the summer, however,
sweets give way to fresh fruit such as large peaches,
melon, watermelon, grapes and pears.
Greek coffee is a variation of the coffee offered in
many south-eastern Mediterranean countries. The traditional
Greek coffee is best prepared in a bakirenio pot when
heated slowly. The meraklidiko way wants the pot to
be placed in the sand and be heated indirectly rather
than be put directly on fire.The important words to
know when ordering are pikro (bitter), metrio (semi-sweet),
and gliko (sweet). Coffee is usually served with a glass
Lunch is served between noon and 3 p.m.; dinner after
8 p.m. There is a wide variety of eating establishments
in Greece, usually characterized by certain well-defined
Estiatorion (restaurant): A conventional eating
establishment offering international cuisine and some
Greek specialties. They tend to be in the upper price
Taverna: An offshoot of the traditional countryside
eating place. The owner and family members can often
be seen preparing meals and serving food. A taverna
places a great deal of emphasis on the mezedes and traditional
cooking. The upper price range tavernas can be very
sophisticated establishments in food, service and decor
even though they rarely are as expensive as the deluxe
Psistaria: A barbecue-style eating place with
a large spit conspicuously in the entrance. Here one
can inspect the roast pork, lamb and chicken. Your selection
is priced according to the weight. Salad, french fries
and cheese compliment such a meal.
Psarotaverna (fish taverna): They specialize
in fish and seafood and are almost always found by the
seaside or harborside. In a psarotaverna, one will find
fresh fare of the day, usually the owners' morning catch.
Pricing and tipping in Greece: The bill always
includes an obligatory 15% service charge. It is customary
to leave an extra 5-10% for the assistant waiters who
do odd jobs around the table.
may well possess first place in the hierarchy of countries
known for their tradition in viticulture. Not only is
this due to Greeks producing wine since the Neolithic
Age - 4000 B.C. - but also to the fact that wine has
long been adored, praised and chanted in the name of
god Dionyssos. Festivals honoring Dionyssos were numerous
in ancient times. They were held mostly during winter
months and were celebrated with dramatic performances,
festal processions and of course consumption of wine.
As time went by and the tradition of the winemaking
was handed down from father to son, the wine improved
both in quantity and quality. The resinating of wines,
an inheritance from antiquity, necessary then for the
storage and transportation of wines in clay amphoras,
is vanishing now.
Nowadays, Greek wine production, abiding by tradition
but invigorated by modem technology, offers a wide variety
of fine wines. Depending on where you are in Greece,
there are excellent table (white, red and rose) wines
to enjoy offered by different wineries. Together with
the table wines do not miss, however, to taste wines
with an appellation of origin, that is wines designated
according to the region of where they are produced -
as Greek wine law requires.
Taste dry red wines from western Macedonia and Crete
or dry white wines from Chalkidiki, Cephallonia, Santorini,
Patras, Lemnos, Crete and Attica. The sweet white wine
from Samos, locally called Moschato, and the Mavrodafni
from Patras and Cephallonia are excellent dessert wines,
considered of the best in the world. Ouzo, the traditional
aperitif of Greece, has a strong anise flavor. Being
quite strong, it should be served with water or on ice.
Retsina which is prepared in exactly the same manner
as dry white wine but with the addition of a few pieces
of pine resin to musts, either before or during fermentation!
Virgil said: Vine varieties traced in ancient texts
were so numerous and of such different features , that
it might be easier to count specks of sand on a beach!
Every summer, the GNTO organizes Wine Festivals where
a carefree atmosphere prevails, reminiscent of ancient
Dionysian revelries. Such events take place in Rethymnon
where the wine festival is held in July and Patras with
a wine festival held from mid-August to mid-September.