The foods eaten by the people of Greece

The cuisine of Greece has a rich history dating back thousands of years, and over the past 500 years, it has evolved while maintaining its traditional essence. Greek cuisine is a cornerstone of Mediterranean food culture, emphasizing the use of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, fish, and meats. Here is an overview of foods commonly consumed in Greece over the past half-millennium:

Staples:

  • Bread: Various types of bread like "lagana," "paximadia," and the everyday loaf are popular.
  • Rice and Pasta: Consumed less frequently than bread but still common, especially in pilafs and casseroles.
  • Potatoes: Introduced later, but now a common staple.

Proteins:

  • Fish and Seafood: Given Greece's extensive coastline and islands, fish such as sardines, mackerel, and anchovies, as well as other seafood, are abundant.
  • Lamb, Pork, and Chicken: Commonly consumed meats, often grilled or used in stews.
  • Cheese: Feta, kasseri, manouri, and graviera are some of the traditional Greek cheeses.

Vegetables and Fruits:

  • Olives and Olive Oil: Central to Greek cooking; used in salads, for frying, and as a dip.
  • Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Bell Peppers: Essential in salads like the famous Greek salad.
  • Eggplants, Zucchinis, and Green Beans: Often used in stews or casseroles like moussaka.
  • Lemons: Used as a flavor enhancer in many dishes and sauces.
  • Fruits: Figs, grapes, and citrus fruits are common.

Legumes:

  • Lentils, Chickpeas, and White Beans: Used in soups and stews, such as "fasolada."

Dairy:

  • Yogurt: Consumed plain, used in sauces like tzatziki, or served with honey and nuts.

Nuts and Seeds:

  • Almonds, Walnuts, and Pine Nuts: Often used in desserts or as a snack.

Spices and Herbs:

  • Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme: Common herbs.
  • Cinnamon and Cloves: Commonly used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Traditional Dishes:

  • Moussaka: A layered casserole made of eggplant, meat, and bechamel sauce.
  • Pastitsio: A pasta bake with meat and bechamel.
  • Souvlaki: Skewered and grilled meat, often served in pita bread with toppings.
  • Dolmades: Grape leaves stuffed with rice and sometimes meat.
  • Spanakopita: Spinach pie made with phyllo pastry.

Beverages:

  • Coffee: Greek coffee is a strong brew, often enjoyed socially.
  • Wine and Ouzo: Traditional alcoholic beverages.

Historical Influences:

  • Ottoman Influence: Dishes like moussaka and certain spices were introduced during the Ottoman rule.
  • Venetian Influence: Especially in the Ionian islands, where you might find dishes with Italian flair.

Modern Influences:

  • Modern Greek cuisine also includes international foods, especially in urban areas, but traditional Greek food remains immensely popular both domestically and internationally.

Greek cuisine is characterized by its flexibility, range of ingredients, and the importance of quality and seasonality. Over the past 500 years, these features have remained relatively consistent, even as new ingredients and techniques have been incorporated.

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