The Greek diet is one that is bursting with fresh flavors and excellent nutrition. With a cuisine consisting of fresh vegetables, a wide variety of meats such as lamb, chicken and pork, the Greek diet is known for being one of the healthiest across the world. The fantastic use of herbs and spices gives Greek food distinct flavors, of which are heightened with the liberal use of olives, lemons and garlic which are used frequently within many traditional and family recipes. Renowned for being lovers of family celebrations, food is a huge part of any special occasion and religious holiday where bright, aromatic foods and delicious, flowing wine are welcomed and enjoyed by all.
Within the Greek culture, the Easter holiday begins on the first day of Lent which is when the Greek community prepares for the resurrection of Christ by cleaning their bodies. The foods which are eaten during this time include the word ‘nistisma’ to symbolize that it does not contain any restricted foods. Traditional foods eaten during this religious holiday are Tsoureki, traditional Easter bread which possess a slightly sweet taste and Greek Easter cookies which are made to share with loved ones and visitors within the home. Easter Sunday is a well celebrated day during which Easter soup called Mayerista is enjoyed, made with lamb organs and elegant seasoning. Desserts and sweets are thoroughly enjoyed within the Greek cuisine and along with Easter, Christmas heavily involves a variety of Greek cookies such as Melomakarona which is cookies topped with honey and walnuts.
Greek recipes will frequently include some of their most loved ingredients which not only stick to ancient recipes, but also help to create the delicious flavors associated with Greek food. Filo dough is commonly used within baking and is a common ingredient within many Greek dishes. Used for recipes such as Spanakopita (spinach pie) and the sweet desert Baklava, filo dough is an ultra thin, flaky pastry which is also used within many appetizers and side dishes. Pita bread is also used within many Greek meals as it is so versatile, used for a variety of Greek-style sandwiches and as a side for many main meals. Pita breads are commonly used with dips such as yoghurt and cucumber or olive oil and lemon juice and due to their versatility; they can be used as part of a main meal or a quick snack. A vast majority of Greek meals incorporate lemons and olives, with olive oil being a primary ingredient within dishes from salads to main dishes and dipping sauces. The frequent use of lemons within dishes helps to create the zesty, fresh flavor common within Greek dishes.
The favored meat within many Greek homes is lamb which is usually spit-roasted and used for a multitude of meals from casseroles to Greek-style sandwiches and wraps. A common meal within many Greek homes and restaurants is Souvlaki which combines chicken, pork, beef or fish with a mixture of vegetables and is likened to the skewered meat kebab recognized in other cultures. Greek main meals incorporate a chosen meat with a wide range of fresh vegetables, such as Moussaka which is a popular casserole style dish consisting of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, onions and in some cases, a type of meat although it can also be enjoyed as a vegetarian meal. Greek meals combine a number of vegetables but depending on which vegetables are in season will determine those which are used within each recipe. In the summer time, many favored Greek dishes will be accompanied by delicious fresh salads such as the infamous Greek salad. This dish combines olives, tomatoes and feta cheese with lashings of olive oil and seasonings although some Greek salads may also include nuts as a form of garnish.
Greek food is not only healthy and nutritious, but is flavorsome, fun, bright and aromatic. Combining the fundamentals of what makes a great meal and adding elegant touches of spices, herbs and care, Greek cuisine is not only a way in which to celebrate food itself, but also a way in which we can understand more about the Greek culture and how mush of the food we know and love has derived from the Greeks themselves.