Local Food & Drinks
Greeks, meals are social occasions, or rather more appropriately, celebrations.
It's so difficult to imagine a Greek meal without a lively discussion or
boisterous laughter. Greeks are by temperament a loud (in a nice way) and happy
people and this characteristic can be readily seen during mealtime. For Greeks,
it is not just plain eating and drinking. It is a way of life. Perhaps because
food is intertwined with their own roots and history, for it is not unusual for
local foods and drinks to have recipes that have been handed down from
generation to generation.
The most important food (or food ingredient) in Greece is the olive oil – it is not just part of the usual Greek diet, it has been ingrained into the Greek culture for thousands of years. In fact, aside from being consumed, olive oil is used in traditional Greek medicine, in cosmetics and in rituals. Although olive oil of good quality can be found in other countries, the best olive oil is arguably that from Greece. Many nutritionists and dietitians have called the Greek diet healthy. Presumably one of the reasons for these is the perpetual presence of olive oil in almost all Greek food. Olive oil, according to recent researches, olive oil is good for the heart and can be a factor to longevity.
Meat in Greek cuisine is usually goat, lamb, beef or pork. It is said that Greeks eat more meat as they become more affluent. When tourists (who are fond of Greek food) and locals are asked about the popular Greek meat dishes, mousaka, a dish consisting of ground beef (or any of the meat mentioned earlier), eggplants, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and béchamel, always comes up. But perhaps at the top of the list is Souvlaki, which is meat (usually beef but then you can have lamb or pork or maybe a combination) grilled in a skewer which when becomes done is chopped into small pieces and placed on a pita bread with tomatoes, onion, lettuce and sadziki. Souvlakis are cheap and you can find them almost all over Greece.
The Greek coastline is one of the longest in the world. This becomes even more significant because of the relatively small land area of Greece. The country, therefore, is surrounded by so much water that it is not unlikely that fish and other seafood will find its way into many Greek dishes. Fishes that are popularly used in local food in Greece are sardines (sardeles), mackerel (kolios), smelt (marides) and anchovies (gavros). Octopus is a delicacy and can be eaten grilled, marinated or cooked in tomato sauce. Shrimp is also common in certain Greek islands (Lavros for example) where you can eat the whole thing (Yes, including the head.).
A Greek meal will not be complete without drinks. The most popular drink in Greece is the ouzo, the best of which, as claimed by many, comes from the island of Lesvos. It is always drunk with mezedes, small plates of food which can also act as appetizers. Mezedes comes in many kinds. It could be sardines, anchovies, octopus, squid or even grilled cheese. Ouzo and mezedes are so closely linked that the mention of one should also merit the mention of the other.