Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Eating Greek Style


Mealtimes are still a family event in Greece. Most families get together for at least one meal of the day, although this does depend on work schedules, school and so on. Some things can always be found on a Greek table, depending on what is on the agenda for the day. One thing I was not used to when I first came to Greece, was the fact that no matter what the meal was there was always bread on the table. When I was younger, in the UK, bread was something I associated with sandwiches, toast, and soup. Here in Greece though it is a standard part of the Greek meal, as well as salad which varies according to what is in season. Feta cheese and olives are also a must on the table, depending on what the meal is. We usually have olives when we cook pulses, like the traditional bean casserole, or lentils. Daily meal planning can be a bit hectic, but once you get the hang of it, everything can go to plan. Now the Greeks do have days on which they don't eat meat. Wednesdays and Fridays are religiously connected to our eating habits. Wednesday, being the day of the last supper, and Friday, the day on which Christ was crucified, have been marked as days of fasting. This means that on these days we do not eat any animal produce or oil. Of course, this is something which is upheld in the smaller communities in Greece, but apart from the religious aspect, this is also one of the reasons the Greek diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Apart from this, Greek housewives like to have a varied menu. As in other parts of the world, roast dinners, and meat dinners are usually planned for weekends, when most people are at home, and have the time to prepare such meals, and also enjoy them. Past, rice dishes, and potato based dishes are usually cooked once a week, and also fish is something there is plenty of in this country, so most households cook it once or twice a week. Another thing that Greeks like to do is use vegetables in a variety of ways, so during the summer months you will see aubergines, courgettes, peppers, runner beans and okra cooked in a variety of ways. As for meat, you will find that this also has special treatment, and the ways of cooking it vary from place to place, and season to season. I must admit, that growing up with the Greek cuisine has had a delightful effect on my taste buds, as the herbs and spices mingled with vegetables and meat appear to trigger the appetite and make you want to try a bit of everything. The Greek cu sine, much like the Greek people has been influenced by other factors as well as religion. The refugees from Asia Minor brought with them their middle eastern gastronomical delights, and so we have our syrup based desserts. The shepherds and farmers also played an important role in cooking habits, as they used whatever was in season and available in the mountainous regions they travelled through with their herds. Therefore, when visiting Greece, it is essential to try out authentic Greek cooking, although souvlaki and tzatziki are a tempting delight. On the other hand, good old fish and chips with plenty of salt and vinegar is definitely something I miss living here.....

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chase said...

Funny you miss fish and chips as I had something very much like that in Damigos in Athens. OK it was salt cod but it was not really that different to my palate.

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