The people of Greece share a passion for food and drink that dates back to ancient times, and that passion is reflected in their rich culinary traditions.
The simple, well-seasoned preparation of quality fresh ingredients truly defines Greek cuisine.
The temperate Mediterranean climate is ideal for growing olives, and olive oil is an indispensible ingredient in Greek cooking.
Garlic, spices and herbs such as oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary and mint are widely used, as are the lemons that grow abundantly throughout the region.
Because Greece comprises a number of islands and a lengthy coastline, fresh fish and seafood are frequent staples of the Greek menu. Lamb, which is often served roasted with garlic, lemon and herbs, is the predominant meat. However, many dishes are focused around poultry, pork and beef as well.
The Greeks are very fond of vegetables, and eggplant, artichokes, tomatoes and green peppers are among the favorites. Avgolemono, the most famous of Greek sauces, is an egg-lemon sauce that can be served over meat fish and vegetables. Also popular is a tomato sauce delicately flavored with cinnamon and a delicious thickened garlic sauce (skorthalia) often served with hot or cold seafood. Feta cheese, a slightly salty soft, crumbly cheese made from goat's milk, is frequently added to salads and combined with meats and vegetables. Kaseri is another popular cheese, similar to cheddar in both texture and taste.
Phyllo (filo) dough is the Greek all-purpose pastry dough. It can be used in savory dishes like the traditional baked spinach and feta cheese pie (spanakopita) or in desserts like Baklava, which consists of layers of pastry and ground nuts drizzled with a spiced honey syrup and baked.
There are a number of wines available from the land of Bacchus, from light dry Riesling styles to Burgundy style reds and Muscat dessert wines, but the traditional Greek country wine is called Retsina. Retsina is a dry white wine flavored with pine resin that many say is an acquired taste. Ouzo, the most popular drink in Greece, is a clear liquor made from a combination of pressed grapes, herbs and berries, including aniseed, licorice, mint, wintergreen, fennel and hazelnut. It is usually served as an aperitif but sometimes can be mixed into cocktails as a predominant licorice flavor.
Mediterranean cuisine can enthrall the palate with a myriad of fresh flavors and exotic spices, and Greek cuisine is no exception. From olive oil to ouzo, Greek cuisine is a healthful and exciting culinary adventure.