Greek Cuisine is a Time Tested Favorite
Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. The major ingredients are honey, goat’s milk, cheese, nuts, olive oil, vegetables, lamb, fish and local fruit. Today, olives, foreign cheese, imported fruits and yoghurt are added to compliment the dishes. This adds to the health aspects of the cuisine. Though fish and seafood are popular protein rich food used in Greek cuisine, its love for lamb dishes is well known and hence, there are several dishes that exemplify this fact.
The surrounding cultures always had their influences on Greek cuisine. Non destructive cultural explorations have brought a mix between Oriental cooking styles and Eastern European cooking styles in the kitchens of the Greeks. This is a process that goes back several decades and is still prevalent. The seasonal variety is the most famous part of a Greek cuisine. Important religious holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Day, May Day and Easter have their effect on the cuisine. Greek meals are always occasion for meeting and socializing.
Course of a Greek meal
Bread with mead of honey and wine is used to begin a meal. An appetizer is served after which fresh fruit is served. A course consisting of mainly meat and fish is served. This is the first stage. After this stage, pies, fruits, cheese, nuts and sweet wine are served. One pot dishes such as bean soups and mullet stews served with bread and cheese were meant for the poorer people. Fruits soaked in honey and wine is a dish from ancient Greek cuisine that is very popular even today. Though the recipes for many such dishes have been lost over time, the present dishes are equally appreciated and loved by all.
Evolving with time
After 7th century BC, imported foods were used in Greek cuisine and dishes made from them became a part of the cuisine. Potatoes, peppers, bananas and tomatoes were added during the 15th century after the discovery of America.
Importance of lamb in Greek cuisine
Lamb is a significant part of Greek cuisine. It can be considered to be on par with vegetables and herbs from the cuisine point of view. The landscape and climate of the country is favorable to grow lamb and sheep. Though rabbits and poultry are common parts of Greek cuisine, the specialty is lamb. Succulent and lean, lamb tastes great with ouzo and Greek wine. Lamb dishes used to be a component of a meal and not a star dish by themselves. Today, dishes like kokoretsi (lamb intestine that is stuffed with organ meat) is an important part of Easter Sunday. There are numerous ways of eating lamb today such as roasted, baked, stewed, grilled, etc. and Greeks love them all. Right from tavernas and simple restaurants to contemporary dishes, lamb is an essential part of Greek cuisine.
- A Greek diet is nourishing. Vegetables, fish, cereals and legumes are some of the main ingredients used.
- Lots of herbs and spices are used by locals. Oregano, onion, garlic, dill, mint and bay laurel leaves are used in most dishes.
- The recipes are simple. Mediterranean cuisines are beneficial and delicious simultaneously and Greek cuisine is one such choice.
- Lamb meat is very common.
- Beef is almost never used.
- There are quite a number of appetizers (mezedes). Each region has its own specialty and they have a lot of flavor making them healthy and tasty.
Marjoram and Greek cuisine
Marjoram is a culinary herb being used for centuries all over the world. Its sweet taste and pleasant flavor are the main reasons for this. In ancient Greece, it was used as a cure for convulsions, dropsy and narcotic poison. Greek cuisine then started using Oregano as it offered similar flavor when compared to marjoram without offering the sweetness.
Moussaka is a common traditional Greek cuisine dish. It consists of lamb layered with béchamel and eggplant sauce. Grilled lamb chops served with oregano, salt, pepper and lemon is called paidaki and is another favorite. Lamb souvlaki is to cook lamb over a rotisserie. Lamb itself is eaten with tomato, béchamel or lemon egg sauce and herbs such as oregano, parsley and mint. Oven baked lamb with potatoes is another simple and favorite dish. Even pastas are eaten with lamb dishes.