Calliope's Real Greek Food

cooking & stories in my Brooklyn kitchen

Greek cuisine is a reflection of the country's rich & diverse culture. It has a culinary tradition of 4,000 years! Being at the crossing point of East & West, Greece’s great and turbulent history is reflected in its traditional food. Through the centuries, Venetians, Romans, Balkans, Turks & Slavs have contributed to the culinary culture of this small Mediterranean country.  
Since the Greek Orthodox Church is at the center of its culture, most holidays in Greece are religious ones. Greeks traditionally have more than 200 days of lent: abstaining from meat and products of animals with blood (cheese, eggs, milk, butter etc.), fish and seafood with backbones. No wonder why there is such an abundance of traditional vegetarian and even vegan dishes in the Greek cuisine.  
Overall, this frugal, healthy diet can be summarized as follows

  • Free of elaborate techniques, based on the farmers’ produce: fruit, legumes, nuts and vegetables along with wheat, olive oil & wine, which were the three main ingredients of the Ancient Greek diet, too.  
  • This diet is low in dairy, with the exception of goat’s milk.  
  • It includes wild greens and weeds that are cheap and easily accessible to all and hence consumed regularly, lightly boiled or in pies.
  • It also includes moderate amounts of alcohol and locally produced honey.  
  • Meat (mainly lamb) & fish are not consumed on a daily basis. 
  • Oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay leaves are widely used.  
  • Meat dishes are often flavored with cinnamon and cloves
  • Desserts are mainly made of nuts and honey, whereas the traditional spoon sweets are fruits and vegetables preserved in sugar and are offered in very small quantities as a gesture of hospitality.