Cuisine of the Week: Greek
Located at the Southeast region of Europe, Greece is bordered by Albania and Bulgaria and surrounded by 2 seas, namely the Aegean Sea and the Ionian Sea. In ancient history, Greece has been a part of Roman trade routes due to its geographical location. Hence, the people of Greece have been able to meet and understand many different cultures and customs. This has brought about influences to their fare as many spices were introduced through trade.
History and Food
Greek diet has been influenced throughout history by many of the invading countries. It was documented that the Persians introduced Middle Eastern foods, namely, yogurt, rice and sweet treats made from nuts, sesame seeds and honey. During the Roman invasion, food such as pasta and sauces were brought along with them to Greece. Spices from various parts of the world were traded into Greece, and this has influenced their diet until current times. For instance, Greeks popularly use spices such as oregano, cumin, mint, garlic, thyme and basil.
Later, the Turks introduced coffee to Greece. Tomatoes and potatoes were brought from the New World into Greece when the Americans began their exploration of the globes about five hundred years ago. Aside from these influences, the Greeks themselves are somewhat experts on the production of cheese. Apart from the local Greeks consuming cheese, they also export specialised cheese all over the world. Greeks produces many varieties of cheese including feta, metsovone, kasseri, manouri, anthotyros and mizithra. The oldest variety being feta and kasseri.
The essence of Greek food has remained the same through centuries. One of the most important parts of Greek food is that Greek families will sit together and enjoy food together. Greeks place much importance on sharing food with their loved ones, and this has not changed throughout its long history. Besides, Greeks prefer their food to be simple and straightforward and such tend to avoid processed foods.
Iconic and Popular Greek Foods
Moussaka – There are many variations on this dish throughout the Mediterranean. Moussaka consists of layers of fried eggplant, minced meat, potatoes and is topped with creamy bechamel sauce and baked to golden brown perfection. Many restaurants also offer vegetarian options for this dish. Different regions of Greece serve their own variation of the dish.
Souvlaki – The word ‘souvlaki’ means meat on a stick. These meats can be pork, lamb, beef or chicken that is marinated and skewered on a stick before grilled over charcoal. There are many ways to serve souvlaki, including eating it on its own, wrapping the meat in pita bread with tzatziki or served on a plate. This dish can be found at any street vendors all over Greece.
Gyros – Similar to a kebab, gyros are a typical Greek sandwich. Traditionally, gyros are made from pork, chicken or beef. The meat is usually cooked on a vertical rotisserie and sliced into thin pieces before being served with tomatoes, onions, tzatziki sauce and wrapped in pita bread. Vegetarian options can opt to substitute the meat with grilled halloumi which is a salty Cypriot cheese made from a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk or feta cheese.
Dolmades – This dish is commonly found in accompaniment to the main course. Dolmades are made from vine or grape leaves and are stuffed with rice mixed with lemons and herbs that are folded to make small parcels to be steamed. They can also be filled with meat and vegetables.
Baklava – This popular dessert is found all over Greece, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries. These are small pastries that have been soaked in honey syrup and is layered with crushed almonds or walnuts.
Loukoumades – This Greek delicacy is adored by both children and adults. It is small fried doughnut-like balls that are drenched in honey-like syrup and sprinkled with various toppings which include cinnamon or crushed nuts.
These foods can also be found in various restaurants in Malaysia. Go on foodpanda to discover more Greek cuisine and get them delivered right to your doorstep!
Article Written By Marcovy
Marcovy is a passionate writer who thinks life is about living to eat and enjoying it to the fullest. He wanted to explore the restaurants around Malaysia and the idea of documenting those food experiences was what inspired him to start writing food blog.