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What are the Common Cornerstones of Greek Cuisine?

3 September 2012

Greek cuisine has been used as the inspiration for many types of food around the world for thousands of years. Even Italian food, which is one of the most recognisable and most loved cuisines around the world, takes a lot of its direction and principles from Greek cuisine.

Greek Cuisine

What are the cornerstones of Greek food and how could you put together a perfect, Greece inspired meal?

Common Trends

Greek cuisine tends to feature herbs and spices a lot more than other traditional Mediterranean cuisines. At the same time, where there is a heavy reliance on beef and other land sourced meats, particularly in Spain and Italy, Greek cuisine has a strong focus on fish and other seafood. Vegetables and cheeses are also important to Greek cuisine, however perhaps the biggest factor is how “original” and unrefined most Greeks like their food to be. This leads to more authentic, rustic recipes rather than the “globalised” foods seen in many modern restaurants in the Western world.

Starters

Fish and cheese are the most common features of starters in Greek cuisine. Fried cheese in particular is very popular, and has somehow recently found its way onto the menu in Nando’s (South African and Portuguese, go figure). If nothing else it serves as a great example of the influence Greek cuisine has had globally.

Kalamari and scampi are traditional fish starters, often served with Greek yoghurt or herb infused dips, although both are common features in main meals, too.

Main Dishes

Perhaps the best-known Greek dish that is eaten around the world is moussaka, although meatballs and slow roasted meats, particularly lamb, are hugely popular across the country.

Many vegetarian dishes contain rice, and are often as basic as boiled vegetables, especially greens such as cabbage and leek, mixed with rice. Although this does not sound especially glamorous, they offer a traditional, nutritious, and tasty meal.

When it comes to seafood, anything is on the menu. In some Greek communities it is as simple as whatever the local fisherman have caught that day, with lobster and mussels especially popular.

Desserts

Although many would go for the obvious here and plump for Greek yogurt, the most desirable deserts are probably delicious, pastry based dishes that also contain copious amounts of syrup and sugar based ingredients.

Loukoumades, small balls of dough not dissimilar to doughnuts, are very popular, especially when covered in syrup or spices such as cinnamon.

There are also many traditional desserts that are synonymous with special occasions, including vasilopita for New Year celebrations, and diples for Christmas and Weddings. Baklava is probably the Greek dessert dish most commonly made and recognised by Westerners.

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