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The table setting : plate piato, cup flitsani, spoon kutali', knife makheri, fork pirouni, glass “poteri”.

The reason we have included these pages is because the most important part of the day is to find the right tavern for a leisurely lunch in the country.

Greek food is delicious. The best way to sample it is through ordering a variety of starters “mezzedakia” a selection of dishes, which are placed on the table and shared by all.

There is no better way to exemplify Greek life – relaxed in every aspect.

Ancient Tastes  Chios Mastiha  Recipes  Olive Oil  Coffees, Beers & Wines


I could not begin to include them all, but here is an idea of some of them: Tzatziki (yogurt and garlic dip), keftedes (small walnut sized morsels made with meat), teropitakia (feta cheese pies), taramosalata (cod roe dip), melitzanosalata (aubergine dip), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves). There is of course the famous Greek salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, drowned in olive oil and sprinkled with oregano) delicious eaten with freshly baked bread.

The famous Greek salad: tomatoes with cucumbers, green peppers and onions. Sprinkle on the oregano and salt, and dress the salad with olive oil. Greeks eat loads of vegetables, they are abundant and inexpensive. They are also served on the “mezze” table as fried peppers, courgettes and Aubergines. Many are casseroled into delicious oily dishes of peas, onions and tomatoes or artichokes served in a delicious lemony sauce. Freshly cut salads are eaten with every meal and you can choose to your hearts desire.

Moussaka is probably the best- known Greek dish. Aubergines, minced meat cooked in herbs and spices covered in béchamel. Best served with a crisp salad and crusty bread – not to be missed.

Cheese (tiri): Most Greek cheeses are made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk. Among them are Agrafa (a sheep’s milk cheese reminiscent of Gruyere), manure, kopaniste, (a highly spiced sheep’s or goat’s milk cheese), misythra (a milk curd cheese) and anari (a goat’s milk cheese).
Yogurt (yaourti), made from sheep's or goat’s milk is also commonly found. Miscellaneous : Bread– psomi, butter– voutiro, salt – alati, pepper – piperi, sugar – Zachary, milk – gala…

Soups(soupes): Greek soups are usually very substantial , and are often made with eggs and lemon juice. Fasolada is a popular thick bean soup. Others include pepper soup, with the addition of vegetables and meat and bouillon. Kakavia is a fish soup, made of various kinds of fish and seafood with onions, garlic and olive oil. There are also other excellent fish soups psarosoupes.

For the fish lovers, there are plenty of taverns along the eastern or western coast of Attica. Modern Athenians love fish, just like ancient Athenians did. Which ever direction you choose getting out of the city you will eventually reach the sea. There is a ritual Greeks follow whenever they go to a fish tavern. The most knowledgeable person at the table, goes to the restaurant kitchen to choose the fish. The restaurant owner, or the head-waiter, opens one fridge drawer after another, digs into crushed ice, takes out smaller or larger fish and shows them to the costumer. "The best fish is the freshest one" every fisherman will tell you, and by "fresh fish" they mean that which has been out of the water for no more than a day or two. Maybe this, more than anything else, makes for the incredible taste of even the most humble, inexpensive fish of the Aegean. The chosen fish is weighed in front of the customer before it is scaled and gutted. The cooking is simple: the fish is grilled over the charcoal fire, fried in olive oil or made into Kakavia, the simple fish soup of the islands.

Fish (psari) and seafood is also abundant on the menus: Kalamaria(squid), octopus, prawns, cattle fish, mussel, lobster. The commonest species of fish served include: sea bream (sinagrida, tsipoura, lithrini), plaice (glossa) cod (bakaliaros), red mullet (barbouni)and tuna (tonos).

Some choose to go to a hasapotaverna (a butcher's tavern) to eat charcoal grilled meat, mainly tiny succulent lamb or kid.  In a hasapotaverna the meat is sold to the customers by weight, and while it is being grilled, the hungry Athenians devour all sorts of meze and salads in those vast restaurants that are usually packed during the weekends. Meat (kreas): The favorite kind of meat is lamb ( arne ) usually roasted or grilled. Souvlakia and doner kebab (meat grilled on the spit) are also popular. Kokkoretsi (lamb entrails roasted on the spit) are a popular dish in country areas and tavernas. Pork and beef is also served.

TIME TO EAT

Enjoying meals together is an important part of Greek life. They would do so every day if it were possible, but every day commitments, particularly in the big cities, mean that there obviously has to be a compromise. On special occasions, however, there is no getting away from it : in the whole  family, if not the entire village, sits down  around the table. This is true of private celebrations, such as weddings, baptisms or funerals and is likewise the case on "official" religious holidays. The communal meal takes on special meaning, however, when it has been preceded by a long period of fasting and privation, as in the run-up to Easter. Not only is the occasion of having a meal together cause for celebration, but also the very fact of being able to eat normally again is reason to celebrate in itself. The tables groan under the weight of food and the talking and eating go on for hours.

Coffee (Hellinikos kafes)comes in different strengths and degrees of sweetness. Ness cafe (Frappe) with ice. Tea (tsai) is of different kinds. Mountain tea (tsai tu vunou) an infusion herb found on mountainsides.

Greek coffee is not filtered so it is best ground to a fine powdery consistency so the particles settle at the bottom  of the cupid is made in a special attractive, long-handled small container with a narrow top, called briki in Greek

COFFEE AND CONVERSATION

Since the real business of eating does not begin for the Greeks until midday, it is only coffee that gets city dwellers, in particular, thought the first hours of the day.

Vale briki, which means something like “get the coffee pot boiling” is one of the most important phrases to be heard during the course of a Greek day. Not only does it signal coffee-time, but can also be an outright invitation for a cozy chat over coffee or even a coffee klatch to gossip about the various  goings-on in the neighborhood. Anyone who does not participate or observe the rules will find it difficult to make friends in the community. The hostess serves the coffee on a tray with some sweet confectionery and a glass of chilled water. There are rules governing coffee-drinking too: Unlike  espresso, mocha coffee is not downed in one go, but sipped deliberately slowly in order to leave the gritty sediment at the bottom of the cup.

There are numerous ways of preparing it and sometimes it does not turn out successfully. There are basically three different ways of preparing mocha coffee: sketos (bitter), metrios (medium-sweet), and glikos (sweet). To make one cup of mocha coffee, you need one teaspoonful of very finely ground coffee beans. Add sugar to taste, then a cup of water, and slowly bring it all to a boil in a special little longhand led pot.

Greek Recipes Drinks (pota): The commonest drink is wine (krasi, inos), either white (αspro krasi) or red (mαvro krasi). The usual table wines are resinated to improve their keeping qualities (retsina, krasi retsinato) and have a characteristic sharp taste, which has to be got used to. The Greek liking for resinated wines dates back to ancient times, as is shown by the remains of resin found in the earliest amphoras. The resin is added to the wine during fermentation and gives it a very characteristic taste, which may not appeal to everyone at first. But resinated wines once the taste has been acquired are very palatable and stimulating to the appetite. There are also plenty of unresinated wines. Both dry and sweet wines are produced.

RETSINA. The Greeks and at first the Romans too, stored wine in earthenware vessels, as they did almost all foodstuffs. However, the material was porous, so when amphorae were intended to hold liquids, they were sealed with pitch or the resin of then Aleppo pine Pinus halepensis. It was probably by this roundabout route that residue from this resin first found its way into the wine, and the first resinated wine into the cup. This accident , if it was an accident, not only meant the wine would keep longer, but also gave it that unmistakable spicy taste, which has acquired greater importance as the number of enthusiasts has increased. So, for example, Pliny the Elder recommends in his Historic Naturalism that for preference the resin of pines mountainous regions should be mixed with the fermenting must, because it had a more pleasant taste. When the Roman wine producers changed over to lighter, more easily transportable wooden barrels, which no longer needed to be sealed, resinating wine went out of fashion at least in the western part of the Roman Empire. By contrast, in the area of Byzantine influence the preference for resinated wines remained or undiminished.

Until about 1960, retsina was drunk only in Greece. It was not exported until modern tourism developed, when tourists wanted to enjoy the drink they had gotten to know on vacation at home as well, and almost overnight it was vying with ouzo for its position as the Greek national drink. The European Union eventually assigned “traditional description” category, meaning that commercial production of retsina is only permitted in Greece. Best retsina, which is nowadays stored in barrels of cypress wood, is mostly made from Attic Savvatiano, or more rarely from Rhoditis and occasionally from Assyrtiko grapes. The production method for retsina is as simple as possible: small pieces of the resin of Aleppo pine (Greek: retsini) are added to the must of the otherwise traditionally made wine up to a maximum if 2 pounds per 25 gallons (1 kilo per hectoliter), and left in the wine during the fermentation process until it is drawn from the barrel. This produces a drink that certainly goes well with dishes containing a lot of olive oil, small fried sardines, or food that is strongly garlic flavored, but which can still split wine lovers into two camps.

Beer (bira): The brewing of beer in Greece dates from the region of King Othon I a native of Bavaria. Thanks to the good water of Greece, the beers are excellent.
Spirits (pnevmatodi pota): The commonest type of spirit is ouzo.Ouzo is based on pure alcohol from various sources. It could, for instance, be a distillation of molasses produced during sugar manufacture. The alcohol is diluted with water, then the herbs are added. As well as the obligatory anise, these can also include fennel seeds, star aniseed, coriander, cardamom and others. This mixture is left to stand, so the herbs can release their flavors into the mixture of water and alcohol. Raki is similar but stronger. Greek brandy (konyak) has a fruitier aroma than the French variety but less character.


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