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Greek cuisine (Greek : Ελληνική κουζίνα, romanized: Elliniki kouzina) is a Mediterranean cuisine. Greek cookery makes wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine (white and red), and meat (including pork, poultry, veal, lamb, rabbit and beef). 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 has a history of thousands of years with dishes originating from Ancient Greece, continuing into the Byzantine period and surviving until today. It has been influenced by Middle Eastern, Ottoman, and Italian cuisine and cuisines from the northern countries while also having exerted influence over these same areas throughout the years.
Greek cuisine has a culinary tradition of some 4,000 years and is a part of the history and the culture of Greece. Its flavors change with the season and its geography.Greek cookery, historically a forerunner of Western cuisine, spread its culinary influence, via ancient Rome, throughout Europe and beyond. It has influences from the different people's cuisine the Greeks have interacted with over the centuries, as evidenced by several types of sweets and cooked foods.
Ancient Greek cuisine was characterized by its frugality and was founded on the "Mediterranean triad": wheat, olive oil, and wine, with meat being rarely eaten and fish being more common.This trend in Greek diet continued in Roman and Ottoman times and changed only fairly recently when technological progress has made meat more available. Wine and olive oil have always been a central part of it and the spread of grapes and olive trees in the Mediterranean and further afield is correlated with Greek colonization.
Byzantine cuisine was similar to ancient cuisine, with the addition of new ingredients, such as caviar, nutmeg and basil. Lemons, prominent in Greek cuisine and introduced in the second century, were used medicinally before being incorporated into the diet. Fish continued to be an integral part of the diet for coastal dwellers. Culinary advice was influenced by the theory of humors, first put forth by the ancient Greek doctor Claudius Aelius Galenus.Byzantine cuisine benefited from Constantinople's position as a global hub of the spice trade.
The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cuisine is olive oil, which is used in most dishes. It is produced from the olive trees prominent throughout the region, and adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. The olives themselves are also widely eaten. The basic grain in Greece is wheat, though barley is also grown. Important vegetables include tomato, aubergine (eggplant), potato, green beans, okra, green peppers, and onions. Honey in Greece is mainly honey from the nectar of fruit trees and citrus trees: lemon, orange, bigarade (bitter orange) trees, thyme honey, and pine honey. Mastic (aromatic, ivory-coloured resin) is grown on the Aegean island of Chios.
Greek cuisine uses some flavorings more often than other Mediterranean cuisines do, namely oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Parsley is also used as a garnish on some dishes. Many Greek recipes, especially in the northern parts of the country, use "sweet" spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon, allspice and cloves in stews.
The climate and terrain has tended to favour the breeding of goats and sheep over cattle, and thus beef dishes are uncommon. Fish dishes are common in coastal regions and on the islands. A great variety of cheese types are used in Greek cuisine, including Feta , Kasseri , Kefalotyri , Graviera , Anthotyros , Manouri , Metsovone , Ladotyri (cheese with olive oil), Kalathaki (a specialty from the island of Limnos), Katiki-Tsalafouti (both creamy cheeses, suitable for spreads) and Mizithra .
Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach.
Dining out is common in Greece, and has been for quite some time. The Taverna and Estiatorio are widespread, serving home cooking at affordable prices to both locals and tourists. Recently, fast food has become more widespread, with local chains such as Goody's springing up, though most McDonald's have closed.Locals still largely eat Greek cuisine. In addition, some traditional Greek foods, especially souvlaki, gyros, pita such as tyropita and spanakopita (respectively, cheese and spinach pie) are often served in fast food style.
Greece has an ancient culinary tradition dating back several millennia, and over the centuries Greek cuisine has evolved and absorbed numerous influences and influenced many cuisines itself.
Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece: lentil soup, fasolada, retsina (white or rosé wine flavored with pine resin) and pasteli (candy bar with sesame seeds baked with honey); some to the Hellenistic and Roman periods: loukaniko (dried pork sausage); and Byzantium: feta cheese, avgotaraho (cured fish roe) and paximadi (traditional hard bread baked from wheat, barley and rye). There are also many ancient and Byzantine dishes which are no longer consumed: porridge as the main staple, fish sauce, and salt water mixed into wine.
Many dishes entered during the Ottoman era from the Levant. Among those that came to prominence and broader consumption in Ottoman cuisine were tzatziki, yuvarlakia, kofta, boureki, baklava and more.
The Ottoman Empire, having its origins from pastoral nomads in the Eurasian and Middle Eastern steppe, were largely consigned to diets of minced meats and cheeses with little to no grain as evident with Adana-style kofta and other traditionally Turkish staples from the Eurasian steppe.
Distinct from the mainstream regional cuisines are:
Greek cuisine is very diverse and although there are many common characteristics amongst the culinary traditions of different regions within the country, there are also many differences, making it difficult to present a full list of representative dishes. For example, the vegetarian dish "Chaniotiko Boureki" (oven baked slices of potatoes with zucchini, myzithra cheese and mint) is a typical dish in western Crete, in the region of Chania. A family in Chania may consume this dish 1–2 times per week in the summer season. However, it is not cooked in any other region of Greece. Many food items are wrapped in Filo pastry, either in bite-size triangles or in large sheets: kotopita (chicken pie), spanakotyropita (spinach and cheese pie), chortopita (greens pie), kreatopita (meat pie, using minced meat), kolokythopita (zucchini pie) etc. The Greeks do with filo what the Italians do with pizza; They have countless variations of pitas (savory pies). Even the word pita was originally spelled πίττα (pitta), which shows a similarity to pizza. The areas with the largest tradition of making Greek pitas are the North-Western (Epirus) and Central Greece (also called Roumeli). Also, a big part of the Greek Cuisine are seeds and nuts. Seeds and nuts are included in everything from pastry to main dishes.
The list will present some of the most representative Greek dishes that can be found throughout the country and the most famous of the local ones:
Meze or orektikó (appetizer; plural mezedes/orektika) is served in restaurants called mezedopoleía, served to complement drinks, and in similar establishments known as tsipourádika or ouzerí (a type of café that serves drinks such as ouzo or tsipouro). A tavérna (tavern) or estiatório (restaurant) also offers a meze as an orektikó (appetiser). Many restaurants offer their house pikilía (variety) a platter with various mezedes that can be served immediately to customers looking for a quick or light meal. Hosts commonly serve mezedes to their guests at informal or impromptu get-togethers as they are easy to prepare on short notice. Krasomezédhes (literally "wine-meze") are mezedes that go well with wine; ouzomezédhes are mezedes that go with ouzo.
Also, several pitas found all over Greece, such as Kolokythopita , Hortopita, Mizithropita (Crete), Melintzanopita, Kimadopita, Kotopita, Kreatopita (meat pie), Galatopita, Marathopita, Malathropita (Chios), Manitaropita, Fanouropita , Sikopita , Tahinopita .
Very popular during fasting periods, such as the Great Lent:
Quick pasta foods (in Greek: Zimariká).
There is a wide variety of cheeses made in various regions across Greece. The vast majority of them remain unknown outside the Greek borders due to the lack of knowledge and the highly localized distinctive features. Many artisanal, hand made cheeses, both common varieties and local specialties, are produced by small family farms throughout Greece and offer distinct flavors atypical of the mass-produced varieties found commercially in Greece and abroad. A good list of some of the varieties of cheese produced and consumed in Greece can be found here. These are some of the more popular throughout Greece:
There is a variety of non-alcoholic beverages that are drunk in Greece even to this day.
Portokalada (orangeade) and Lemonada (lemonade), since 1971, these beverages were served everywhere, in homes, cafes, tavernas and restaurants. They were made with fresh strained orange juice or lemon juice either mixed with carbonated water or flat mineral water and you added sugar to taste. There were also bottled local versions. In 1989 on the island of Rhodes there were two companies that made and bottled their own portokalada and lemonada using local oranges, lemons and water. These beverages are still standards today, as of 2014, the difference being that most of the small local companies sold their businesses to the big companies like Fanta etc., thus, greatly changing the quality.
Visinada (cherryade) is made from dark cherry syrup (which was originally homemade) mixed with cold water.
The traditional coffeehouses in Greece are called kafenia , and they offer coffee, refreshments, alcoholic beverages and snacks or meze. In recent years, especially in the large urban centres, kafenia are gradually being replaced by modern "cafeterias". Preferred types of coffee are, among others, Turkish coffee, frappé (a foam-covered iced coffee drink), and iced cappuccino and espresso, named Freddo Cappuccino and Freddo Espresso, respectively.Iced coffee-based drinks, such as freddoccino or freddito, are also popular in the summer.
Greece has the eighth highest per capita coffee consumption worldwide.
The origins of wine-making in Greece go back 6,500 yearsand evidence suggesting wine production confirm that Greece is home to the oldest known grape wine remnants discovered in the world and the world's earliest evidence of crushed grapes. The spread of Greek civilization and their worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, spread Dionysian cults throughout the Mediterranean areas during the period of 1600 BC to the year 1 AD. Greece's viticultural history goes back to prehistoric times, and wine production was thriving until the 11th century. After World War II, Greek winemakers imported and cultivated foreign grape varieties, especially French ones, in order to support local production. In 1960s, retsina, a dry white wine with lumps of resin, was probably the most well-known Greek wine abroad. In recent years, local varieties are rediscovered and often blended with foreign ones. In early 1980s, a system of appellations, modelled on the respective French one, was implemented to assure consumers the origins of their wine purchases. Today, there are 28 appellations (Appellations of Origin of Superior Quality and Controlled Appellation of Origin) throughout the country, from Macedonia to Crete.
Archaeological and archaeochemical finds suggest that the Minoans fermented barley and other substances, and consumed some form of beer. BC Egypt, a civilization with a long brewing tradition, the Greeks continued to disdain beer seeing it as the drink of their rivals. In Modern Greece, a limited number of brands—owned by breweries from northern Europe in most cases (e.g. Heineken or Amstel)—dominated for many years the local market, while a stringent Bavarian-influenced beer purity law was in force. Gradually, the provisions of this law loosened, and, since the late 1990s, new local brands emerged (in 1997 Mythos made a breakthrough) or re-emerged (e.g. Fix Hellas), reviving competition. In recent years, in parallel with the large breweries, local microbreweries operate throughout Greece.The beer tradition of the Minoans was discontinued by the Mycenaeans; beverages from fermented cereals may have remained only in Crete during their rule. In Archaic and Classical Greece, beer is mentioned as a foreign beverage, while, when Alexander the Great conquered in 332
Other traditional Greek alcoholic beverages include the anise-flavored ouzo, tsipouro (whose Cretan variation is called tsikoudia), rakomelo and local liquors, such as kumquat from Corfu, mastika (not to be confused with the homonymous anise-flavored Bulgarian drink), kitron, a citrus flavoured liquor from Naxos, souma from Chios, and tentura, a cinnamon flavored liquor from Patras.
Metaxa is a well-known brand of brandy blended with wine and flavorings. Local dessert and fortified wines include muscats (with the Muscat of Samos being the most well-known), mavrodafni, produced from a black grape indigenous to the Achaea region in Northern Peloponnese, and Vin Santo (Visanto) of Santorini, a variation of the Italian Vin Santo.
Turkish cuisine is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Balkan cuisines. Turkish cuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including those of Southeast Europe (Balkans), Central Europe, and Western Europe. The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm with influences from Levantine cuisines, along with traditional Turkic elements from Central Asia, creating a vast array of specialities.
The Albanian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of the Mediterranean. It is also an example of the Mediterranean diet based on the importance of olive oil, fruits, vegetables and fish. The cooking traditions of the Albanian people are diverse in consequence of the environmental factors that are more importantly suitable for the cultivation of nearly all kinds of herbs, vegetables and fruits. Olive oil is the most ancient and commonly used vegetable fat in Albanian cooking, produced since antiquity throughout the country particularly along the coasts.
Ukrainian cuisine is the collection of the various cooking traditions of the Ukrainian people accumulated over many years. The cuisine is heavily influenced by the rich dark soil (chornozem) from which its ingredients come and often involves many components.
Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of the Mediterranean cuisine of Southeast Europe. It shares characteristics with other Balkan cuisines. Bulgarian cooking traditions are diverse because of geographical factors such as climatic conditions suitable for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit. Aside from the vast variety of local Bulgarian dishes, Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with Persian, Turkish, and Greek cuisine.
Arab cuisine is the cuisine of the Arabs, defined as the various regional cuisines spanning the Arab world, from the Maghreb to the Fertile Crescent and the Arabian Peninsula. The cuisines are often centuries old and reflect the culture of great trading in spices, herbs, and foods. The three main regions, also known as the Maghreb, the Fertile Crescent, and the Arabian Peninsula, have many similarities, but also many unique traditions. These cuisines have been influenced by the climate, cultivating possibilities, as well as trading possibilities.
Iraqi cuisine or Mesopotamian cuisine has a long history going back some 10,000 years – to the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, ancient Persians, and Mesopotamian Arabs. Tablets found in ancient ruins in Iraq show recipes prepared in the temples during religious festivals – the first cookbooks in the world. Ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia, was home to a sophisticated and highly advanced civilization, in all fields of knowledge, including the culinary arts. However, it was in the Islamic Golden Age when Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258) that the Iraqi kitchen reached its zenith. Today, the cuisine of Iraq reflects this rich inheritance as well as strong influences from the culinary traditions of neighbouring Iran, Turkey, and the Syria region area.
Cypriot cuisine is part of the Greek cuisine and like all other Greek cuisines, it has been influenced by the neighboring countries.
Levantine cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Levant, known in Arabic as the Bilad al-Sham and Mashriq, which covers a large area of the Eastern Mediterranean. It continues to carry an influentially mainstream character in a majority of the dishes today. It is found in the modern states of Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, and parts of southern Turkey near Adana, Gaziantep, and Antakya. Conversely, some of the dishes listed below may have early origins in neighboring regions, but have long since become traditions in the Levant.
Assyrian cuisine is the cuisine of the indigenous ethnic Assyrian people, Eastern Aramaic-speaking Syriac Christians of Iraq, northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran and southeastern Turkey. Assyrian cuisine is primarily identical to Iraqi/Mesopotamian cuisine, as well as being very similar to other Middle Eastern and Caucasian cuisines, as well as Greek cuisine, Levantine cuisine, Turkish cuisine, Iranian cuisine, Israeli cuisine, and Armenian cuisine, with most dishes being similar to the cuisines of the area in which those Assyrians live/originate from. It is rich in grains such as barley, meat, tomato, herbs, spices, cheese, and potato as well as herbs, fermented dairy products, and pickles.
Lebanese cuisine is the culinary traditions and practices originating from Lebanon. It includes an abundance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starches, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat, and when red meat is eaten, it is usually lamb on the coast, and goat meat in the mountain regions. It also includes copious amounts of garlic and olive oil, often seasoned by lemon juice. Chickpeas and parsley are also staples of the Lebanese diet.
Bosnian cuisine is balanced between Western and Eastern influences. Bosnian food is closely related to Turkish, Mediterranean and other Balkan cuisines, along with some Central European influence. Many of the traditional dishes have been made from the same recipes for hundreds of years.
Georgian cuisine is the traditional cuisine of Georgia. Georgian cuisine has similarities with Persian and Caucasus cuisine. Every region of Georgia has its own distinct style of food preparation. Eating and drinking are important parts of Georgian culture.
Uruguayan cuisine is a fusion of cuisines from several European countries, especially from Mediterranean foods from Spain, Italy, Portugal and France. Other influences on the cuisine resulted from immigration from countries such as Germany and Britain. The food is very similar to Argentine cuisine. Uruguayan gastronomy is a result of immigration, rather than local Amerindian cuisine, because the new colonies did not trust the native Charrúa people. Spanish influences are very abundant: desserts like churros, flan, ensaimadas yoo (Catalan sweet bread), and alfajores were all brought from Spain. There are also all kinds of stews known as guisos or estofados, arroces, and fabada. All of the guisos and traditional pucheros (stews) are also of Spanish origin. Uruguayan preparations of fish, such as dried salt cod (bacalao), calamari, and octopus, originate from the Basque and Galician regions, and also Portugal. Due to its strong Italian tradition, all of the famous Italian pasta dishes are present in Uruguay including ravioli, lasagne, tortellini, fettuccine, and the traditional gnocchi. Although the pasta can be served with many sauces, there is one special sauce that was created by Uruguayans. Caruso sauce is a pasta sauce made from double cream, meat, onions, ham and mushrooms. It is very popular with sorrentinos and agnolotti. Additionally, there is Germanic influence in Uruguayan cuisine as well, particularly in sweet dishes. The pastries known as bizcochos are Germanic in origin: croissants, known as medialunas, are the most popular of these, and can be found in two varieties: butter- and lard-based. Also German in origin are the Berlinese known as bolas de fraile, and the rolls called piononos. The facturas were re-christened with local names given the difficult German phonology, and usually Uruguayanized by the addition of a dulce de leche filling. Even dishes like chucrut (sauerkraut) have also made it into mainstream Uruguayan dishes.
Israeli cuisine comprises both local dishes and dishes brought to Israel by Jews from the Diaspora. Since before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and particularly since the late 1970s, an Israeli Jewish fusion cuisine has developed.
Tunisian cuisine, the cuisine of Tunisia, is a blend of Mediterranean and Berber cuisines. Its distinctive spiciness comes from the many civilizations which have ruled the land now known as Tunisia: Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Spanish, Turkish, Italians (Sicilians), French, and the native Punics-Berber people. Many of the cooking styles and utensils began to take shape when the ancient tribes were nomads. Nomadic people were limited in their cooking implements by what pots and pans they could carry with them. The Tunisian tagine, is very different from the Algerian or Moroccan dish. It is a type of a pie dish, made out of eggs, meat and vegetables, similar to the Italian frittata or the eggah.
The cuisine of Algeria is influenced by Algeria's interactions and exchanges with other cultures and nations over the centuries. It is characterized by a wealth derived from both land and sea products. Conquests or demographic movement towards the Algerian territory were two of the main factors of exchanges between the different peoples and cultures. This cuisine is a Mediterranean and North African cuisine with Berber roots.
Greek-American cuisine is the cuisine of Greek Americans and their descendants, who have modified Greek cuisine under the influence of American culture and immigration patterns of Greeks to the United States. As immigrants from various Greek areas settled in different regions of the United States and became "Greek Americans," they carried with them different traditions of foods and recipes that were particularly identified with their regional origins in Greece and yet infused with the characteristics of their new home locale in America. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for town peoples and then later for Americans nationwide. Greek-American cuisine is especially prominent in areas of concentrated Greek communities, such as Astoria, Queens and Tarpon Springs, Florida.
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