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The tastes of Greece are rooted in the landscape; the olive groves on the hillside, the trees laden with knobbly, pitted lemons, the mint and oregano that gives out its fragrance as you brush by. The Greeks typically eat their big meal of the day in a late lunch and then have an afternoon siesta during the heat of the summer, with only a smaller light meal in the evening. Now that’s the life!
Here are some traditional Greek foods not to be missed:
Small plates of bite sized Greek food that will make an inexpensive lunch. They’re always served with a basket of country style bread and you can typically choose from cold dishes and hot dishes.
Tzatziki Cucumber in creamy yogurt with mint and garlic
Hummus A garlicky chickpea paste
Dolmades Vine leaves stuffed with a filling of rice, onion and herbs and other vegetables such as aubergines fried in olive oil
Whitebait Deep fried in a crisp batter and traditionally served plain with a wedge of lemon
Kalamari Sliced rings of squid that are also traditionally served with a deep fried batter
Grilled Sardines However fiddly to eat, with all those tiny bones – a delicious addition to any Meze
Greek Salad A Greek lunch isn’t complete without the traditional Greek salad, that can sometimes be a meal in itself! With lettuce, tomatoes, sliced red onion, black olives and a slab of feta cheese on top.
The Greeks love their pastries, although surprisingly they don’t really go for deserts but tend to reserve the sweeter dishes for afternoon snacks with coffee. Tyropita is a favourite among locals!
Tyropita Small fried pastries of soft goat’s cheese in filo pastry that are great for a snack or as part of your Meze lunch.
For something a little more substancial than Mezes, go to a Greek family home for a real feast.
Kleftico A casserole of lamb is cooked slowly in the oven with a tomato and olive oil sauce until it’s meltingly tender
Moussaka Minced beef or lamb may be flavored with cinnamon and layered with potatoes and a creamy béchamel sauce
Stuffed vegetables, tomatoes or aubergines With a filling of rice flavored with herbs and local feta cheese, baked in the oven.
When you eat the local food in Greece, you’ll know that it’s been inspired by the produce that can be grown in everyone’s back garden or hillside with all the flavor of those hot summer days thrown in.
Heather Cowper writes at Heather on her Travels about inspiring travel destinations and experiences, trying to capture the quirks of local cultures and the tastes to savour that make each place unique. You can also connect with her on Twitter @heathercowper and on her Facebook page