A journey is an opportunity to meet cultures and to learn different traditions. The culinary experience is a fundamental part of a journey. In every resort, tourist or otherwise, you will find a restaurant or a tavern that serves typical Greek dishes. But be careful, do not limit your orders to the most famous Greek tourist dishes like moussaka or souvlaki, because the Hellenic gastronomy offers much more. Overcoming the initial distrust, with a pinch of curiosity, you can discover new flavors that will win you over. In addition to the spices deriving from the Middle East influence, in the recipes of traditional Greek cuisine ingredients that are rooted in the Mediterranean tradition are used: olive oil, tomatoes and vegetables. Today, therefore, Greek cuisine is the perfect synthesis of Middle Eastern and European cuisine, made of wholesome foods prepared with fresh ingredients from the countryside, farms and the sea.
History and traditions of Greek cuisine
Greek cuisine has an ancient tradition, so much so that its origins are lost between history and mythology. Centuries ago, when many peoples of the Mediterranean area still ate raw food or, at most, cooked on the grill, elaborate food was already prepared in Greece. The Romans, conquered by the Hellenic cuisine, brought home many Greek cooks in order to discover and learn the secrets of their gastronomy. In the nineteenth century the recipes of Hellenic cuisine were very similar to those in Europe, in particular the French one. In the best restaurants, in fact, French dishes were in vogue and many Greek cooks went to France to learn the culinary art in the kitchens of the Parisian restaurants. The most important and famous Greek chef is Nikolaos Tselementes, born in Exambela, village of the island of Sifnos. He travelled most of Europe and the United States to learn about modern culinary techniques. Tselementes is considered the founder of modern Greek cuisine. His revolution hit all the Turkish and Roman influences strongly rooted in centuries in the kitchens of Greek restaurants and taverns. In the Greek recipes new ingredients were added such as sauces typical of French gastronomy: the bechamel became the fundamental ingredient of the famous moussaka. The Greek chefs and restaurateurs tried to imitate his techniques and his style. In fact, they were the years of the tourist boom of Greece and the Greek islands and so they hoped to attract the international and worldly clientele with delicate tastes and more elaborate presentations.
Eating in Greece, a culinary delight
In Greece every meal represents a moment of joy and coming together. Greek food is a symbol that unites family members and that establishes new friendships. In the Greek restaurants and tavernas, dishes will be offered in very generous portions. The structure of the meals is different from the one we are used to in Italy: in Greece there isn’t first course. The meal starts with appetizers, called mezedes or orektika, which can often be enough for a complete meal. They can be small samples similar to Spanish tapas or sauces to be tasted with bread. It follows a main dish, merida that can be both fish, meat and vegetables. The most common way to cook meat and fish is grilled. Cheeses and salads serve as an appetizer, but also as a side dish accompanied by rice, fries and other vegetables. Pasta is not widely used except in some typical dishes of some islands. Pikilia, a unique dish, is very common: a mix of mezedes, meat or fish for one or two people. It’s a great way to sample more things together and in case you have doubts about what to order. The meal ends with desserts, very calorific because as ingredients there is almost no shortage of butter, honey, cream, syrups, dried fruit, puff pastry, cream and lots of sugar.
The atmosphere is always very relaxed. This does not mean that the Greeks are lazy, indeed the work activities that revolve around the restaurant are very hectic: start early in the morning to end in the middle of the night. Even if the premises are filled around 2:00 pm, it is easy to find them open from 12.00 to 16.00. In the evening, it is possible to have dinner already at 6.00 pm, but the locals fill up at around 9.00 pm. They close very late, because people, especially the local people, sit at the table just to chat or listen to some Greek music, often played live. If you get hungry at night it is not a problem as, in places where there is nightlife, the catering establishments remain open until dawn. When the first course is delivered to you, you will usually hear the phrase: kalì orexi! It is the wish of good appetite. It is good to answer efcharisto (thank you).
If you want to relax and make your holiday special, you can not only stay in our exclusive properties in Mykonos but also take advantage of our Aquafusion service. A personal chef with his staff will come directly to your villa for an unforgettable gastronomic experience.