Food & Drink

The cuisine of Greece has influences from Italian, Balkan and Middle Eastern food. It incorporates fresh ingredients into a variety of local dishes such as moussaka, stifado, dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) spanakopita and avgolemono (chicken broth with rice, eggs and lemon juice). Throughout Greece people often enjoy eating from small dishes such as meze with various dips such as tzatziki, grilled octopus and small fish, feta cheese, olives and cheese. Olive oil is added to almost every dish.

It must be noted however, that Greek cuisine differs widely from different parts of the mainland and from island to island. Cyprus in particular, has many delicacies that are native to it alone, such as grilled Halloumi and Louvi.

Appetizers

Meze is a collective name for appetizers, typically served with wine or ouzo. Dips are served with loaf bread or pita bread. In some regions, dried bread ('paximadhi') is softened in water.

  • Boureki: individually wrapped vegetable and meat fillings in filo pastry or dough. Also called by the diminutive -pitaki, e.g. tiropitaki.
  • Deep Fried vegetables (courgettes, aubergines, peppers) or mushrooms ("tiganita").
  • Dolmades: grapevine leaves stuffed either with rice or vegetables. Meat can also be included.
  • Fava: Yellow split pea puree or other bean purees; sometimes made of fava beans.
  • Greek Salad: The so-called Greek Salad is known in Greece as Village/Country Salad (Horiatiki).
  • Horta: wild or cultivated greens, steamed or blanched and made into salad, simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. They can either be eaten as a light meal with potatoes (especially during Lent, in lieu of fish or meat).
  • Kolokythoanthoi: courgette flowers stuffed with rice or cheese and herbs.
  • Koukkia: fava beans.
  • Lachanosalata Cabbage Salad. Very finely shredded cabbage with salt, olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar dressing.
  • Marides tiganites: Deep-fried whitebait, usually served with lemon wedges.
  • Melitzanosalata: aubergine salad.
  • Pantzarosalata: beetroot salad with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Patata salata: Potato salad with olive oil, finely sliced onions, lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Saganaki: fried cheese; the word "saganaki" means a small cooking pan, and can be applied to many other foods.
  • Skordalia: thick garlic and potato puree, usually accompanies deep fried fish/cod.
  • Spanakopita: spinach wrapped in filo pastry.
  • Taramosalata: fish roe mixed with boiled potatoes or moistened breadcrumbs.
  • Tzatziki: yoghurt with cucumber and garlic puree, used as a dip.
  • Tyropita: cheese (usually feta) wrapped in filo pastry.

Many other things are wrapped in filo pastry, either in bite-size triangles or in large sheets: kotopita (chicken), spanakotyropita (spinach and cheese), hortopita (greens), kreatopita (meat pie, using ground meat), and so on.

Soups

  • Avgolemono: 'egg-lemon' soup: chicken, meat, vegetable, or fish broth thickened with eggs, lemon juice, and rice.
  • Bourou-Bourou: a vegetable and pasta soup from the island of Corfu.
  • Fakes: a lentil soup and one of the famous everyday Greek soups, usually served with vinegar and olives.
  • Fasolada: a bean soup defined in many cookery books as the traditional Greek dish. It is made of beans, tomatoes, carrot, celery and olive oil.
  • Magiritsa: traditional Easter soup made with lamb offal and thickened with avgolemono.
  • Patsas: tripe soup.
  • Psarosoupa: 'fish soup', which can be cooked with a variety of fish types, and several kinds of vegetables (carrots, parsley, celery, potatoes, onion) which are being blended and olive oil.
  • Revithia: chickpea soup.

Meat Dishes

  • Arni sto fourno me patates: baked lamb with potatoes. One of the most common Greek dishes. There are many variations with additional ingredients.
  • Bekri meze: 'drunkard's snack', diced beef marinated in wine, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, olive oil and cooked slowly.
  • Giouvetsi: baked lamb in clay pot with Kritharaki or Orzo.
  • Païdakia: grilled lamb chops with lemon, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Grilled octopus in vinegar, oil and oregano. Accompanied by Ouzo.
  • Gyros: meat roasted on a vertically turning spit and served with sauce (often tzatziki) and garnishes (tomato, onions) on pita bread; a popular fast food.
  • Kleftiko: literally meaning "of the klepht", this is lamb slow-baked on the bone, first marinated in garlic and lemon juice, originally cooked in a pit oven.
  • Keftedes: fried meatballs with oregano and mint.
  • Kotopoulo pilafi: chicken pilaf, mostly popular on the island of Crete.
  • Moussaka: aubergine casserole. There are other variations besides aubergine, such as courgette or rice, but the aubergine version ("melitzanes moussaka") is most popular, so "moussaka" alone is assumed to mean "with aubergine".
  • Pastitsio: a baked pasta dish with a filling of ground meat and a Béchamel sauce top.
  • Hoirino me selino: pork with celery.
  • Soutzoukakia Smyrneika: large meatballs with cumin, cinnamon and garlic and served in a tomato sauce.
  • Souvlaki: Anything grilled on a skewer (chicken, pork, swordfish, shrimp). Most common is pork or chicken, often marinated in oil, salt, pepper, oregano and lemon.
  • Spetsofai: a dish with country sausages, peppers, onions and wine. Originates from Mt. Pelion.
  • Stifado: beef-onion stew with red wine and cinnamon. Rabbit or game (e.g. hare) are also cooked stifado-style.

Vegetarian Dishes

  • Aginares a la Polita: artichokes with olive oil.
  • Arakas me Aginares: fresh peas baked with artichokes.
  • Bamies: okra with tomato sauce (sometimes with potatoes and/or chicken/lamb).
  • Fasolakia freska: fresh green beans stewed with potatoes, courgette and tomato sauce.
  • Gigantes beans: baked butter beans with tomato sauce and various herbs.
  • Lachanodolmades: cabbage rolls, stuffed with rice and sometimes meat, spiced with various herbs and served with avgolemono sauce.
  • Spanakorizo: spinach and rice stew made with white lemon sauce.
  • Yemista: baked stuffed vegetables; usually tomatoes, peppers, or other vegetables hollowed out and baked with a rice and herb filling.

Desserts and Sweets

  • Akanes: a delicacy of Serres - a variation of the Turkish delight.
  • Baklava: a popular sweet dessert, of filo pastry layers with nuts, sugar, syrup, and cloves.
  • Galaktoboureko: custard between layers of filo. The name derives from the Greek "ghala", meaning milk, and from the Turkish börek, meaning filled, thus meaning "filled with milk."
  • Halvadopites: nougat of sesame with almonds in a thin crust.
  • Karidopita: walnut cake.
  • Kourabiedes: buttered (can also include olive oil) biscuits with powdered sugar and almonds, mainly made during the Christmas period.
  • Loukoumades: similar to donuts, loukoumades are essentially fried balls of dough drenched in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
  • Loukoumi: a confection made from starch and sugar.
  • Melomakarona: biscuits soaked in syrup of honey (meli in Greek thus melomakarona) and sugar, topped with walnuts and almonds, also traditional during Christmas.
  • Milopita me pandespani: apple pie with powdered sugar.
  • Rizogalo: rice pudding.

Drinks

Wine is the most common drink in Greece, and legend claims that wine was invented on the island of Icaria. Until the 1980s, most Greek wines were not of the finest quality, but more recently they have come up to international standards. (More information on Greek wine may be found in the extensive Wine Resource Centre).

Beer is widely drunk; common brands include Vergina, Heineken, Amstel, Zeos, Mythos, Alfa Hellenic Lager, Fix, Henninger, and Kaiser, all of which are produced locally, some under license.

Other drinks include:

  • Greek coffee: a derivative of Turkish Coffee, made by boiling finely ground coffee beans, and is served thick and strong, and often sweetened.
  • Mavrodafni Sweet: liquor-style, red wine with higher alcohol percentage than normal.
  • Metaxa: a brand of sweet brandy, 40% alcohol content.
  • Ouzo: an 80-proof clear alcoholic beverage that is flavoured with anise; it turns milky white with water or ice; the best said to be produced on the island of Lesbos.
  • Retsina: a white wine that has some pine tar added, originally as a preservative, but nowadays for the flavour; this is an Athens region specialty.
  • Tsipouro or (especially in Crete) tsikoudia/raki: mostly home-brewed, a clear drink similar to ouzo, often with higher alcohol content, and usually not flavoured with herbs. The city of Volos at the centre of Greece is well-known for its Tsipouradika. In Thessaly, tsipouro is always flavoured with anise.