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Greek cuisine has a long tradition and its flavours change with the season and its geography.Greek cookery, historically a forerunner of Western cuisine, spread its culinary influence - via ancient Rome - throughout Europe and beyond.It has influences from the different people's cuisine the Greeks have interacted with over the centuries, as evidenced by several types of sweets and cooked foods.
It was Archestratos in 320 B.C. who wrote the first cookbook in history. Greece has a culinary tradition of some 4,000 years.Ancient Greek cuisine was characterized by its frugality and was founded on the "Mediterranean triad": wheat, olive oil, and wine, with meat being rarely eaten and fish being more common.This trend in Greek diet continued in Roman and Ottoman times and changed only fairly recently when technological progress has made meat more available. Wine and olive oil have always been a central part of it and the spread of grapes and olive trees in the Mediterranean and further afield is correlated with Greek colonization.
The Byzantine cuisine was similar to the classical cuisine including however new ingredients that were not available before, like caviar, nutmeg and lemons, basil, with fish continuing to be an integral part of the diet. Culinary advice was influenced by the theory of humors, first put forth by the ancient Greek doctor Claudius Aelius Galenus.Byzantine cuisine benefited from Constantinople’s position as a global hub of the spice trade.
The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cuisine is olive oil, which is frequently used in most dishes. It is produced from the olive trees prominent throughout the region, and adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. The basic grain in Greece is wheat, though barley is also grown. Important vegetables include tomato, aubergine (eggplant), potato, green beans, okra, green peppers, and onions. Honey in Greece is mainly honey from the nectar of fruit trees and citrus trees: lemon, orange, bigarade (bitter orange) trees, thyme honey, and pine honey. Mastic (aromatic, ivory coloured resin) is grown on the Aegean island of Chios.
Greek cuisine uses some flavorings more often than other Mediterranean cuisines do, namely: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Persillade is also used as a garnish on some dishes. Many Greek recipes, especially in the northern parts of the country, use "sweet" spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon and cloves in stews.
The climate and terrain has tended to favour the breeding of goats and sheep over cattle, and thus beef dishes are uncommon. Fish dishes are common in coastal regions and on the islands. A great variety of cheese types are used in Greek cuisine, including Feta, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Graviera, Anthotyros, Manouri, Metsovone and Mizithra.
Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach.
Dining out is common in Greece, and has been for quite some time. The Taverna and Estiatorio are widespread, serving traditional Greek home cooking at affordable prices to both locals and tourists. Recently, fast-food has also become more popular in Greece and Europe, with local chains such as Goody's springing up, but the McDonald's have mainly closed down.Although fast food is gaining popularity and many major fast-food chains have opened all over Greece, the Greek people still rely primarily on the rich and extensive repertoire of Greek cuisine. In addition, some traditional Greek foods, especially souvlaki, gyros, pita such as tyropita and spanakopita (respectively, cheese and spinach pie) are often served in fast food style.
Image source:http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/06/01/finest-greek-restaurants-crete-has- to-offer/
The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation originally inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products.
On December 4, 2013, UNESCO recognized, during its meeting in Baku, this diet pattern as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Italy, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Greece, Cyprus and Croatia.
Despite its name, this diet is not typical of all Mediterranean cuisine. In Northern Italy, for instance, lard and butter are commonly used in cooking, and olive oil is reserved for dressing salads and cooked vegetables.In both North Africa and the Middle East, sheep's tail fat and rendered butter (samna) are the traditional staple fats, with some exceptions.Indeed, one researcher concludes: "It appears that currently there is insufficient material to give a proper definition of what the Mediterranean diet is or was in terms of well defined chemical compounds or even in terms of foods.... The all embracing term 'Mediterranean diet' should not be used in scientific literature...."
The most commonly understood version of the Mediterranean diet was presented, among others, by Dr Walter Willett of Harvard University's School of Public Health from the mid-1990s on. Based on "food patterns typical of Crete, much of the rest of Greece, and southern Italy in the early 1960s", this diet, in addition to "regular physical activity," emphasizes "abundant plant foods, fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert, olive oil as the principal source of fat, dairy products (principally cheese and yogurt), and fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts, zero to four eggs consumed weekly, red meat consumed in low amounts, and wine consumed in low to moderate amounts". Total fat in this diet is 25% to 35% of calories, with saturated fat at 8% or less of calories.
Olive oil is part of the Mediterranean diet, though not of all Mediterranean cuisines: in Egypt, Malta, and Israel, olive oil consumption is negligible, and in other areas, it is not predominant. It contains a very high level of monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid, which epidemiological studies suggest may be linked to a reduction in coronary heart disease risk. There is also evidence that the antioxidants in olive oil improve cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol reduction, and that it has other anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive effects.
(based on olive oil)
Greek cuisine has a long tradition and its flavours change with the season
Greek gyros and souvlaki
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