Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine (white and red), and meat (including lamb, poultry, veal, beef, rabbit, and pork). Other important ingredients include olives, pasta (especially hilopites, a kind of pasta similar to tagliatelle), cheese, lemon juice, herbs, bread, and yogurt. The most commonly used grain is wheat; barley is also used. Common dessert ingredients include nuts, honey, fruits, and filo pastries. It is strongly influenced by Ottoman cuisine and thus, (especially the cuisine of Anatolian Greeks), shares foods such as baklava, tzatziki, moussaka, dolmades, yuvarlakia and keftedes with Turkey and the neighboring countries. It is also influenced by Italian cuisine and cuisines from the northern countries. Additionally, in specific regions it includes several kinds of pasta, like hilopites, goglies (goges) etc.
Greek National Dishes
A gyro or gyros is a Greek dish made from meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Like shawarma and tacos al pastor, it is derived from the lamb-based doner kebab. In Greece it is now most often pork or chicken, while a mixture of beef and lamb is common in the US and other countries. It is typically served wrapped or stuffed in a pita, along with ingredients such as tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce.
Moussaka is an eggplant- (aubergine) or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, in the Levant, Middle East, and Balkans, with many local and regional variations.
The most famous version of the dish today appeared in the 1920s with the publishing of Nikolaos Tselementes’ culinary book in Greece. Many versions have a top layer made of milk-based sauce thickened with egg (custard) or flour (béchamel sauce). In Greece, the dish is layered and typically served hot. In Turkey, thinly sliced eggplant is fried and served in a tomato-based meat sauce. Turkish mussaka may be consumed warm or at room temperature. In the Arab countries it is often eaten cold, but is also served hot in some regions.
Souvlaki, plural souvlakia, is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It is usually eaten straight off the skewer while still hot. It can be served with pita bread, fried potatoes, lemon, and sauces, but the souvlaki itself is eaten on its own, with the side dishes eaten subsequently. The meat usually used in Greece and Cyprus is pork, although chicken, beef, and lamb may also be used. In other countries (and for tourists), souvlaki may be made with meats such as lamb, beef, chicken, and sometimes fish.
The word souvlaki is a diminutive of the Medieval Greek σούβλα souvla ‘skewer’, itself borrowed from Latin subula. ‘Souvlaki’ is the common term in Hellenic Macedonia and other regions of northern Greece, while in southern Greece around Athens it is commonly known as ‘kalamaki’, ‘reed’.
Magiritsa is a Greek soup made from lamb offal, associated with the Easter (Pascha) tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church. Accordingly, Greek-Americans and Greek-Canadians sometimes call it “Easter soup”, “Easter Sunday soup”, or “Easter lamb soup”. In some parts of Greece, most notably Thessaly, it is not served as soup but rather as a fricassee, where it contains only offal and large variety of vegetables, but no onions or rice, as in the soup.
Kokoretsi, is a dish of the Balkans and Asia Minor similar to Scottish Haggis, consisting of lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs, or kidneys, and typically grilled; a variant consists of chopped innards cooked on a griddle. The intestines of suckling lambs are preferred.
Fasolada, fasoulada or sometimes fasolia, is a Greek, Mediterranean, and Cypriot soup of dry white beans, olive oil, and vegetables, sometimes called the “national food of the Greeks”.
Its counterparts are Italian fagiolata, the Brazilian and Portuguese feijoada, Romanian fasole and Spanish fabada. In Turkish cuisine is called kuru fasulye. The Arabic version is called fasoulia and is found in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Fasolada is made by simmering beans with tomatoes and other vegetables such as carrots, onion, parsley, celery, and bay leaf. Lima beans are sometimes used instead of white beans. Recipes vary considerably, often including meat.
It is often enriched with olive oil either in the kitchen or on the table.