Whether you are living in Greece or just visiting, you will quickly notice that food and drinks have an important role in Greek society.
Greeks consider a meal or drinking an ouzo/coffee together, as quality time with friends and family. It is their way to socialize, discuss various topics and concerns, make fun, and offer hospitality.
Even in a changing society, where fast-food chains and delivery services pop up everywhere, the traditional Greek kitchen holds the highest position and quality food is very much in demand.
Greek parents are usually very much involved in making the right or healthy food choices for their children. And if they book a summer camp or holiday for their children elsewhere, the first question that is usually asked is: what will the children eat, or which meals are prepared for them?
Most visitors in Greece have experienced this “food culture” and atmosphere many times during the tavern meals, or when they are invited to Greek homes.
If you know some words of Greek, and you can also order and thank the personnel in Greek, then the service even gets more personal and Greek.
When being together with Greeks, you will soon also notice a lot of conversations are about “food” or “preparing food”.
What will we eat tonight?, What are you cooking? Which new recipe we will try? How you prepare this and that?, Which tavern you liked most? Which ingredients did you use for…?, What the kids will take to school for lunch? Etc..etc… Greeks can talk for hours about food and their food experiences elsewhere.
Of course, when traveling abroad, Greeks many times are disappointed about some very simple dishes and the prices they have to pay for them.
They realize that their “Greek cuisine”, the variety, and the fresh ingredients are not easy to find out of Greece, for the same price.
Of course, not only food is important, but also drinks!
Whether you are in the mood for a fresh juice, herbal tea, a glass of wine ouzo or coffee, you will have the choice between many options, and your drinks are prepared with care and love 🙂
In a country where fresh fruits are growing all year long, fresh orange juices or mixed juices are a pure delight.
During the last decade, Greek wine production has gone up a lot, and there are excellent Greek wines available, from nearly every region in Greece.
The old-time classic, Ouzo, remains popular all over the country, as well as “tsipouro”.
Greek herbal teas or “mountain teas” are also more and more in demand again, made from fresh Greek herbs you can find in the countryside. or mountains, They are usually served with honey.
Even when coffee is not produced in Greece, Greeks are really coffee lovers and drink coffee from morning till evening.
If you want to learn how to order your coffee in Greek, or which options you can find, then download the FREE eBOOK here. It also included an AUDIO with the correct pronunciation
Now, let’s say that you would like to invite your Greek friends for dinner? For me personally, it is always big stress, since I am not the best cook and there is no way to beat the Greek mother! In the past, I tried to offer typical Belgian dishes which Greeks are not so familiar with, but those “foreign” tastes were many times not to Greek likes…I gave up. After trying hard to prepare a Greek dinner that is “acceptable” for most Greeks, my best advice is to use the “best and very fresh ingredients”. You can not do anything wrong with that, and it is appreciated by everybody.
Obviously, I am also a fan of the “Greek kitchen”, but what I like most about it, is that it is a very “honest kitchen”! ! Nothing is covered with sauce or gravy, so you see what you eat, you can taste what you eat! When your ingredients are not fresh, you have a problem 🙂
So where do you get all these wonderful ingredients for a typical Greek meal? Of course, you could go to the supermarket, but you will soon understand that the more tasty, fresh, and original products are coming from elsewhere.
For those living in Athens, we hereby give you some useful tips.
The weekly market
First of all, there is the “λαϊκή αγορά” [laiki agora]. This is the Greek word for the weekly market. In every neighborhood of Athens, you can visit the vegetable and fruit market once per week.
In the center of Athens (Αριστογειτονος/Αθηνας [aristogeitonos/athinas] street), there are 2 permanent markets, open from Monday till Saturday. One for fruits, vegetables and dairy products and one for fish and meat.
Going to those markets is a fantastic experience with market vendors shouting enthusiastically and trying to convince you to buy their products. A perfect place to find all you need for a tasty Greek salad and much more…
And it even gets better…sometimes you can listen to live Greek music while doing your shopping. Take a look at this video, to get an idea of the Laiki in Maroussi, North Athens
Do you want to find the closest market to where you stay in Athens? Then you can visit the website http://www.laikesagores.gr/ and find out. (only in Greek!)
After visiting the markets in the center of Athens, you can continue your tour in Ευριπίδου [evripidou] street. Although it seems like a tiny street, you’ll be surprised how many specialized shops are located here. They sell cheese, flour, products from Crete, herbs, honey, you name it..
Of course, you do not need to go to center Athens at all, in every small neighborhood or town in Greece, you will find enough shops to find the groceries you need, in order to prepare a delicious meal
In North Europe, it is often the tradition to have a dessert at the end of your dinner, with or without coffee.
Greeks love sweets and desserts, and coffee as well, but it is not so common to ask for it in a tavern. Taverns often treat you a small homemade sweet or fruits, but they will not have more desserts to choose from. It is also not a tradition to order coffee after your meal.
In Greece, you often eat a sweet in the afternoon, or late morning, together with a coffee or tea. So it is more a “stand-alone” process 🙂 And coffee is served all day, in many special coffee places, sandwich bars, or cafes…as explained in the eBook above.
When you invite people for dinner at your home, it is not always a tradition to always offer a dessert…it is perfectly normal if you do not. Also, you can not go with empty hands to a house, when you are invited, and it is very probably your visitors will bring sweets for you. In that case, the sweets your guests brought, are also served at the end of the dinner.
Tip: when in Greece, you can find thousands of patisseries, specialized in all kinds of sweets. They are mostly open till around 11pm, so whenever you feel you want something sweet, or you would like to buy something to bring to the hosts, the Greek patisseries are waiting for you!
If you want to learn how to learn more about all kind of Greek pastries, and how they are called in Greek, then here you can buy your Guide to the Greek Bakery and Pastry Shop and Sandwich Bar, including all the vocabulary in Greek and English, videos and Audio
Click below to learn what you can buy in Greece and how to order it 🙂
I wish you a very nice meal, in a tavern, at a friend’s home, of prepared by yourself!
Enjoy your meal – Καλή όρεξη!