A day in Greece may involve multiple meals. Unlike Americans and British people, who only eat three times a day, Greeks, also known as “Hellenes,” can eat up to five times a day. A classic Greek meal includes one or two appetizers, the main course (entrée), a drink, and a dessert.
A typical Greek lunch tends to be light and traditionally includes a homemade casserole or vegetable stew. It is served with a side dish of cheese, bread, and salad, but more importantly, wine.
Fresh seafood has always been a highlight of Greek cuisine. It is nearly impossible to eat a meal in Greece and other Greek countries such as Italy and Turkey without seafood and vegetables. As a staple, bread is also usually served with every Greek meal.
What Do Greeks Have For Lunch?
Lunch is the most important meal of the day for Greeks. In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, businesses, schools, and government buildings all shut down for the afternoon between 1:30 and 2:30 so that workers could go to eat.
This gave people time to eat as much as they liked. Lunch would usually consist of vegetable casserole with cheese, bread, salad, and wine.
However, due to the 9 a.m.–5 p.m. workday in Greece today, grand lunches are not as prevalent as they once were. Dinner is now the most important meal in Greece. The menu may remain the same, but the time slot has changed.
A typical Greek lunch menu will include appetizers, the main course, wine or other alcoholic beverages, and dessert.
The Greek word for appetizers is ‘orektika’ (pronounced oh-rek-tee-kah). The appetizers can be served hot or cold and are intended to pique your interest in the upcoming meal.
They differ from mezethes, which are small plates of food served with alcoholic beverages and provide a setting for social gatherings.
Tzatziki, pronounced tsah-see-kay, is the most popular starter on any Greek menu. This dish, also known as tarator or cacik, is a sauce-based dip found in many Southeast European dishes. It is made from yogurt, olive oil, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
Most of the time, this sauce is served with bread, fried zucchini, or eggplant. You can also use the sauce on sandwiches.
On most Greek lunch menus, you’ll find a vegetable and a soup as the main course. Moussaka is the most popular dish on every Greek lunch menu, and the name comes from the Arabic word musaqqa, which means ‘moistened.’
Initially, you might mistake this dish for lasagna, but it is not, the flavor is different. This eggplant-based casserole dish is accompanied by sauce and lamb mince. It has three layers of ingredients.
The first layer is fried eggplant in olive oil; the second layer is spiced minced meat cooked with onion, tomatoes, and garlic; and the third layer is béchamel sauce.
These three layers are then combined into one form and baked in the oven to give it a golden and crispy appearance. The dish should be consumed at room temperature.
A glass of wine is an essential component of a Greek lunch. The wines offered with each course of a meal in Greece are the same. In essence, there is no such thing as a “proper” wine to drink with the “proper” meal.
At your lunch in Greece, you can anticipate being served well-known wines such as Gamay, Viognier, Riesling, and others along those lines.
A good number of people would agree that the best part of a meal is the final course – dessert. Greek desserts are delicious, especially if you had a light main course.
Baklava is the most popular dessert at a typical Greek lunch. It was originally reserved for the wealthy and was only made on special occasions. This simple pastry is composed of dough, water, and syrup but a single bite will leave you wanting more!
Four Things You Should Know About Dining In Greece
We’ve provided some dos and don’ts of eating in Greece and tips for Greek dining etiquette below to help you turn your vacation into a memorable Greek culinary adventure.
Don’t Say No; Keep An Open Mind
When you find a low-cost restaurant in Greece, you will enjoy the food and the hospitality of the owners, who will almost certainly recommend some dishes to you.
You should not be afraid to try something new, no matter how scared you are. They are experts in this area and genuinely want you to have a good time while sampling their finest offerings.
You will probably be served a traditional Greek drink like tsipouro, ouzo, or rakomelo. Greek liquors are pretty strong, so you should be careful when you drink them.
Just take a sip to show your appreciation for the locals’ hospitality even if you don’t want to imbibe or ask for something else.
Also, most Greeks prefer to eat with their hands, especially when it comes to chicken wings. If you try it their way, you might find that the food actually tastes better.
Ask The Locals For Their Opinions
When you are in a foreign country, it is normal not to know the best places to go, restaurants to eat at, etc. Don’t let your fragile ego stop you from having a great time in Greece.
They will be eager and happy to provide you with all the necessary information because they want you to enjoy Greece as much as they do.
People in Greece have a natural love for food, so it’s easy to get suggestions from them on the best places to eat. They will most likely recommend a low-cost restaurant where you can enjoy authentic Greek cuisine.
Try The Street Food
This cannot be overemphasized. Try the street food in Athens, Greece, if you want to feel like a local while discovering the finest cuisine.
The famous souvlaki is one of the best Greek street foods that consists of small chunks of meat that are seasoned and grilled on a skewer. To get a full meal without spending a fortune, this is your best bet.
Fresh vegetables, fries, and sauces are served alongside meat wrapped in bread. You can also add gyros, chicken, or lamb to your souvlaki.
Vegetarian options such as halloumi cheese or falafel may be available in some regions. If you’re going to tour Greece, you should definitely try at least one of their street foods.
Compliment The Chef
If you are enjoying yourself, do not hesitate to express gratitude to those who made it possible. Compliments are not only restricted to cooks in Greece but in every other part of the world. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and it will brighten their day. You should leave a tip if you enjoyed the meal and can afford to do so.
The locals never waste an opportunity to share their appreciation with those who contribute to a good time. Don’t worry about how much you give as a tip to the cooks or waiter; it’s the thought that counts the most
Leaving a tip is totally optional, and can be done either by handing it directly to the waiter or waitress or by placing it on the table.
Popular Greek Dishes
Herbs, both fresh and dried, play a significant role in Greek cooking, contributing to the cuisine’s robust flavor profile. If you find yourself in the Mediterranean, you owe it to yourself to sample these mouthwatering dishes at each of your five daily meals.
Moussaka, arguably the most well-known Greek lunch dish, consists of layers of fried aubergine, ground pork, and potatoes covered with a rich béchamel sauce and then baked until golden brown.
Several Greek restaurants offer vegetarian options as well. For added flavor, the top of the moussaka is made of a creamy bechamel sauce.
This traditional white bean soup is another Greek national dish, although it is less well-known outside of Greece.
It’s a simple but filling dish made of beans, crushed tomatoes, and vegetables like celery, onions, and carrots. Common seasoning additions include bay leaves, parsley, and thyme.
If you walk through any of the big Greek cities in the morning, like Athens or Thessaloniki, you’ll often see people eating koulouri on their way to work.
These are big, soft bread rings sprinkled with sesame seeds. They are commonly served from bright yellow street carts and consumed with coffee on the go.
Loukoumades are a popular Greek treat that both kids and adults love. They are tiny fried doughnut-like balls covered in honey syrup and topped with various ingredients like cinnamon or chopped walnuts.
People usually order a large dish of these to share with friends or family. This is authentic Greek cuisine at its finest!
Dolmades are traditional Greek side dishes. They are made by folding over vine or grape leaves that have been filled with lemony, herb-flavored rice and cooked. One can find them with a variety of fillings, including rice and meat, or as a vegetarian option.
The Greeks love pies, and there are many different kinds to choose from. Some are made with enriched dough, while others are made with flaky phyllo (also called filo) pastry and can be filled with anything from aubergines (eggplant) or meat to greens or cheese.
The most traditional is spanakopita, a phyllo pastry covered with feta cheese and spinach and flavored with dill. Another favorite is tyropita, which is made of crisp phyllo pastry encased in a savory cheese filling.
A gyro is a classical Greek sandwich, similar to a kebab. It consists of chunks of rotisserie-cooked meat (often chicken, pork, lamb, or beef) wrapped in flatbread or pita with salad, onions, and a variety of sauces.
In vegetarian versions, the meat can be replaced with grilled feta cheese or halloumi, a salty Cypriot cheese made from a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk.
Baklavas are tiny sweet pastries famous throughout Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. They are covered in a honey-like syrup and layered with crushed nuts like walnuts or almonds.
Baklavas are produced using pistachios in the north of Greece, walnuts in the east, and almonds in the center of Greece.
Difference Between Greek Meals And American Meals
Even though both dishes are delectable, they are prepared in very different ways and use very different components. The following table compares and contrasts the two dishes as well as highlights some of the key differences between them.
|Greek Dishes||American Dishes|
|Made from fresh, all-natural ingredients.||The majority of the ingredients are canned or processed.|
|Usually prepared with olive oil.||Usually prepared with butter or lard.|
|Grilling, poaching, and pickling are popular cooking methods.||Deep frying is a popular cooking method.|
|Mostly made up of vegetables and plant-based ingredients.||Mostly made up of meat and animal-based ingredients.|
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Do You Eat With Greek Salad?
Greek salad is typically served with tzatziki sauce, a yogurt-based sauce containing garlic and dill. It pairs well with creamy feta cheese or spicy olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
2. Can Eating Greek Salads Help You Lose Weight?
If you are trying to lose weight and want to incorporate a salad into your diet, the Greek salad is one of the best options. It contains onions and cucumbers, two vegetables that are found in almost every weight loss diet.
3. What Are The Five Major Sauces For Greek Cuisines?
The five major sauces for classical Greek cuisine are Bechamel sauce, Veloute sauce, Espagnole sauce, Sauce Tomate, and Hollandaise.
In conclusion, the Greeks have not only delicious food but also a good feeding culture. It is nearly impossible to leave a Greek restaurant unsatisfied. Lunchtime is made even more exciting by the wide variety of food options available. Bon appetit!
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