Greek food is gaining mainstream exposure stateside with its authentic flavor and use of simple ingredients. Restaurants serving Greek salads, gyro, hummus and kebabs seem to be everywhere we go nowadays.
Greek cuisine – a diverse array of delicious and traditional foods and beverages – is influenced by the cooking traditions of its Mediterranean neighbors. It makes use of fish, olive oil, vegetables, grains, nuts, wine and yogurt.
Because each dish is fresh and inviting, Hellenic food is winning over consumers. This new appreciation for Greek cuisine opens up food franchise opportunities to restaurateurs who want to deliver vibrant flavors to the table.
Here are some of the things that you should know about Greek foods and cooking traditions
Greek cuisine is healthy and nutritious
The Greek diet is popular among health-conscious foodies because of its focus on lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains. Experts say that eating Greek food can decrease chances of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Greek entrees today, like in ancient times, are still primarily plant-based. The Mediterranean diet promotes eating more beans, fruits and vegetables, fish, grains, and poultry as well as small amounts of dairy and wine.
This dietary approach advises reducing the intake of processed foods, red meat and sugar. Greece is also famous for olives, which add texture and rich flavor to every dish and provide heart-healthy oil.
Greeks use fresh ingredients
Greeks are known for using the freshest ingredients for the dishes they prepare every day. Since Greece is surrounded by three seas, it has 8,500 miles (13,679 kilometers) of coastline. Those living on coasts and islands catch fish, octopus and oysters that they will eat.
A vast swath of Greece is mountainous. But the northern portion of the country is mainly farmland with residents producing organically grown grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables. They also grow a variety of herbs and spices.
When it comes to food, Greeks are raised to shun artificial flavoring and processed foods.
Most important ingredients in ancient Greece
Bread, olive oil and wine constituted the traditional Greek diet for centuries just as they do in the modern time. Bread is a necessity for Greeks and is served in most meals, even if the dish is pasta or rice.
Greece’s climate is suitable for growing olive trees.
Olive oil is synonymous to Greece as it is used in most dishes. A Greek consumes an average of 26 liters of olive oil a year, or equivalent to two cups per week. Since vineyards cover most of the country’s mountainous areas, Greece has become famous for its fine wines and spirits.
Meals are social affairs
Eating in Greece is a social occasion. For Greeks, it is a time to bond with people around you while eating lunch or dinner. Greek restaurants and cafes have a family-friendly and relaxed vibe. Because of this, families and friends take forever to eat, conversing about topics ranging from celebrities to politics for hours.
Eating alone is also uncommon. You won’t see Greeks eating their meals alone during lunch break.