Every country has it own rules and considerations when it comes to food and Greece is no different. Generally, when you visit another country it is good to eat as the locals do, to know what to expect and to gain as close as you can an authentic eating experience.
1. Don’t expect your waiter to be your friend. By this I do not mean that Greek waiters are not friendly, many of them are, but you will not get the typical American greeting “Hi my name is so and so and I’ll be your server for tonight, can I get you some margaritas to start out?” No you will not have any of that. If they are really busy, they’ll probably bring out the basics (bread, forks, knives, menu etc.), and expect you to quickly give them your order when they come back to your table. Read more »
We often hear about how Greeks are hospitable. What is it about Greeks and their obsession with hospitality? The answer would be one word: kerasma.
Today is my name day. Basically, most people in Greece are named after a saint and each saint is celebrated on a specific day. Therefore if you have that name you celebrate that day. So for example today is Saint Constantine’s and Helen’s, and basically anybody who has the name Helen, Eleni, Elena, Constantine, Kostas, Gus etc etc. celebrates today. Yes, that list is pretty long. In Greece name days are more important than birthdays, because everybody knows that it is your name day, so your friends have no excuse of forgetting. Plus you are not celebrating being a year older, but just celebrating your name, which really removes any worries of getting older that you may have. No candles or philosophical thoughts of what to do with your life, just celebrating…your name. Yes, a name day is definitely more fun than a birthday in my humble opinion. Read more »
See that layer of skin on the surface of the yogurt? That’s what I’m talking about. Since I’m here to clarify what a real Mediterranean diet is, I am taking the opportunity to explain what a real Greek yogurt is.
Of course for a few years now everyone knows what Greek yogurt is. Right? It’s that thick, strained yogurt that has lot more protein than regular yogurt. Right? Wrong. Read more »
As you know I am passionate about the Mediterranean diet, the diet I was raised on, but more importantly I am passionate about presenting the real Mediterranean diet as it once was and not a watered-down version of it. So I present to you the Mediterranean Diet Manifesto.
Here is what we all need to know and remember to do:
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I’ve been involved in a few projects lately and one of them was discussing the Greek Diet and Greek island cooking on a cruise.
Yes this was a fun job because we also were able to take a 4 day cruise on the Greek islands. While I had travelled to most of these islands, visiting them in March provided a different perspective compared to the summer months. Islands such as Mykonos and Santorini were serene and well . .. quiet. It was a nice change and you really see the beauty of the island and the people. Whether that is a simple cafe in Mykonos or the UNESCO Heritage site on the island of Rhodes; one of the best preserved Medieval towns, or a tiny church on the edge the town on Patmos or the extreme scenery of Santorini. Read more »
Last Thursday was what we call Tsiknopempti (rough translation smoking Thursday) which basically celebrates the beginning of Mardi gras or as it is called in Greece apokria. Apokria actually means “away from meat” as the word carnaval. The real meaning of Tsiknopempti is that it is supposedly the last day before Easter one can eat meat, after that you can still eat dairy until Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera) which is the official start of Greek Orthodox lent and the beginning of the 40 day fast where most animal products are not allowed (see here for what is allowed during Greek Orthodox fast).
With that in mind, I made this Greek style grill cheese. Feta cheese, tahini (sesame seed paste), kalamata olive tapenade , olive oil and oregano all on whole wheat bread. There is no meat but provides a good amount of protein, I grilled it under the grill in a mini oven I use, for a few minutes and it is perfection. Read more »
Citrus is a very common ingredient in Greek cuisine. Particularly lemon. I’ve written this before, but I’ll say it again: Greeks add lemon everywhere: on meat, greens, salads, fish and sauces. Orange is added more commonly to sweets such as koulouroukia (cookies) and cakes especially the ones made with olive oil. But during the winter months you’ll see us here in Greece lugging large bags of oranges from the market, especially older people who still follow the traditional Greek diet (Mediterranean). People here ate fruit after meals and in the winter we always had an orange or mandarin as a dessert and as an afternoon snack with some herbal tea. Read more »
Ok, so it is officially summer in Greece and that means tourist season. Athens, the islands and Greece in general is filled with visitors enjoying Greece and if you are one of them here are 6 tips to help you get the best food experience.
1. Order the right things at touristy places.
Yes we all like to visit and eat at the known touristy places in any country. But as cliché as it sounds sometimes they are just that – “touristy” – and you shouldn’t settle for touristy food. But here is what you should do if you are in touristy area, in Athens it is Plaka and in other places it is not hard to identify them, there are usually a bunch of taverns gathered together with waiters trying to get you in and with large menus that look like books. Now I personally like the ambience of being in a touristy area in Greece, it usually is pretty (e.g. Plaka) and lively, but if you want to eat there make sure you choose the right things so you are not disappointed. Read more »
While 80% of Greece is mountainous, you associate Greece with the sea, and Greeks have a very strong sea culture. Let’s not forget that Greece has a coastline of over 13000 km making it the country with second largest coastline in Europe. Fish have always had a special position in Greece. In antiquity it was a major part of the local diet and the main source of protein. In modern Greece they are equally special. The photos above are significant because they show how common and important fish was in the daily life in Greece. The illustrations are from a Greek school book first published in 1955, it was used in Greek schools until 1978. Every time I see these photos, especially the one with the mother holding fresh fish and the daughter bringing the olive oil and the pan to fry them, I remember the smell of frying fish taking over the whole neighborhood and how it tasted so good. Read more »
Lately I’ve been coming across all these articles about desserts made with olive oil or using olive oil in baking as if it is this new trend. Well in a way it is a trend, outside the Mediterranean that is. Many bakers are just discovering the beauty and merits of baking with olive oil. But here in Greece it is a common ingredient for baking.
This is probably due to two factors: First, olive oil was abundant and much cheaper then butter, which was considered a luxury item. Secondly, Greeks had all those fasting days where they were not allowed to consume animal products, so they had plenty of dessert recipes made with olive oil. And many recipes that require butter also have an olive oil version. Read more »