Our belief about food
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
The above phrase (Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food) is the famous quote by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates that states our belief about food. That is why I am inviting you to meet and experience the Greek culture through our tasteful food. If you want to understand us Greeks, then you have to be aware about our food culture. I strongly believe that. Large portions of Greek homemade traditional food, like moussaka (eggplant casserole), spanakopita (spinach pie) and fresh legumes consuming every day. Around 15:00 and then again around 22:00 we are sitting all together around the table, saying how it was the day at work or gossiping.
Here in Greece, it all starts with the sense of hospitality. This term stems from xenios Dias (hospitable Zeus, the leader of the gods of Mount Olympus). They will welcoming you in their homes and feed you by force. Especially if a grandma expresses the opinion that you are too skinny or pale and you have-to-eat-something.
So, be prepared. If you are coming for holidays in Greece, then you will come back home with extra few pounds. Simply, because we have so many tastefully food, that you have-to-taste-everything and want too.
From here on you understand, that to all Greeks we like to eat really-really well. We like having nice healthy food with many legumes, fruits, fishes –of course olives & feta cheese- and lot of meat.
Our belief about food states that we strongly support Mediterranean diet, buuut …… we also eat big portions of meat in the form of souvlaki (small square-ish pieces of meat in a stick, it’s our meat skewer) or gyros (smaller pieces of meat & tomato & tzatziki & potatoes in round pita). Any kind of meat like pork, lamp, goat or mushrooms and vegan burger can add to pita bread accordingly. Depends on what you are. A meat-eater or vegetarian or vegan or …. You will realize that the minute you will come out your hotel’s door. Because, in each corner of Greece you can find a souvlaki tavern. It is, after all, Greece’s street food.
You-have-to-try some of the foods we are proud of and we eat often enough. But be careful. You must try them homemade. These are spanakopita (spinach pie with feta cheese and phyllo-filo dough) and moussaka (layers of eggplant and potato under layers of ground meat and béchamel white sauce) and tzatziki (dip with greek yogurt mixed with cucumbers, lot of garlic, salt & olive oil).
If you are looking for vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free food I can assure you that the Greek cuisine is full of them. It has many vegetables, legumes, fresh so-soooo flavored fruits and variety of olives and olive oil. We know all about oil’s aphrodisiacal stimulant qualities*, and that is why per capital consumption is highest in Greece, followed by Italy and Spain.
Special mention will be made of course at feta cheese and olives. Every Greek home has feta cheese. We are serving feta in every meal with extra virgin olive oil and oregano at the top. And a variety of nutritional olives eating with hot steamy bread.
Passing by to the drinks, we will stand at ouzo, which is a dry anise-flavoured aperitif. Just give it a try without ice or orange juice. Either you’re gonna love it or you will hate it. Or try something with even more alcohol, like tsipouro or mastic liqueur –much sweeter- from island of Chios.
And of course, there is always time to drink coffee. Whenever we decide to drink coffee, it must be at least 2hours at the coffee place. But it is always with friends talking about political changes, global economy or global warming, talking about work and gossiping. Along with the original greek coffee with the fine grind or with frappe you can try moustokoulouro. These ‘bisquits’ are our traditional cookies with grape must.
If you have sweet tooth, you should try some galaktompoureko (semolina custard baked in filo), halva (semolina-based or sesame-based confection sweetened with sugar or honey), pasteli (sesame seed candy with honey pressed into a bar), bougatsa (a breakfast pastry consisting of either semolina, custard, cheese, or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo) and loukoumades-our Greek version of donuts (little bite-sized fluffy sweet honey balls, which are fried and traditionally served with honey-cinnamon or chocolate), milk pie (fine full fat milk with semolina, butter, honey and cinnamon), rizogalo (rice pudding with milk and cinnamon) and of course melomakarono (flour, olive oil and honey) and kourabies (almond biscuits with butter, flour, sugar, salt and metaxa greek brandy/vanilla/rose water, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and clove) during Christmas time. I am expecting you in Athens. And if you do, I will find the best traditional places for you to eat all of them.
I am pretty sure that many psychologists can claim that we are emotional eaters. Weeeeell ….. I do not know. But certainly the healthy homemade food it’s really big part of our culture and on our daily routine. You are saying: Mom, mommy I am sad or I am extreeeemely happy or depressed/angry/nervous/anxious ….. or whatever and she is like: <<Ohh ok then. Do not be upset honey/sweetheart. Everything would be better or back to normal in a while. Just-eat-something.>> You remember of course the movie <<My Big Fat Greek Wedding>> with Nia Vardalos & John Corbett. Weeeell. What can I say? She was right.
For all the above, I am inviting you to explore Greece through our belief about food culture. I am sure that you’re gonna love this part of our civilization. Around the center of Athens there are many Greek traditional confectionery/candy stores to taste all these sweets.
So, this is a goodbye from me’ Maria. Just for now. But I am truly looking forward to your visit in the center of Athens. Over there, you can find lots of treats and delicacies nearby your -i am sure- notably hotel. Furthermore, I will happily recommend you my favorite places. In that way you will be able to choose the correct greek tavern for you.
*Travel tip: At the Greek cuisine anyone can eat satisfyingly tasteful. There are many options for the meat lovers-carnivores. However, there are many for vegetarians, vegans and halal eaters. But also, for low-carb eaters, diabetics, raw-food eaters, gluten free etc. etc.. Just give it a try and I am sure that you’re gonna love it.
Check the Greek idioms about food and I guarantee to you that you’re gonna exceedingly laugh.