Greek cuisine is well known throughout the world. The ingredients are fresh, the recipes are unique, and they have a universal appeal. Greeks have scattered throughout the globe, and they brought their cuisine with them. As a result of this, you can find Greek restaurants throughout the world.
While the cuisine is legendary, the style of dining in these restaurants has gotten a little lost. When you spend time in Greece, you realize that the social aspect of taking a meal together is special and unique, and definitely a big reason why dining in the country is such a joy. Here’s a look at what makes Greek family dining special.
Ingredients Are Extremely Fresh
One of the things that sets Greek cuisine apart is how fresh the ingredients are. In fact, it is very often that the ingredients are freshly caught, as is the case with seafood, or freshly picked, as is the case with fruits and vegetables, just before dinner. This is one of the major reasons why everything tastes so fresh in Greece.
Collecting the food that will be cooked also gives Greeks another reason to foster a sense of community. For instance, a group goes out in a fishing boat together to catch the day’s seafood, people work on the garden together and pick what they need for the evening’s salad, or a group of hikers combs through the countryside together foraging for food in the wild. While the activities can be done on their own, but they are often much more enjoyable with others.
People Cook Together
Another great thing about dining in Greece is the social aspect of dining in the country. When people get together to enjoy a meal with one another, they don’t just wait for the food to appear on the table. The process of having a friend over for dinner starts well before that, as Greeks tend to spend time in the kitchen cooking together before they sit down to enjoy the dishes they’ve prepared.
Greeks tend to cook together even more when preparing for special occasions such as weddings or other major family events. Holidays like Easter and Christmas are also times that a Greek kitchen might see more action than usual, especially when taking into account the many traditional foods centered around the holidays and the fact that many families make their own traditions out of making these foods together.
There doesn’t need to be a special occasion to explain why Greek people enjoy cooking together, however. It is how they’ve worked from the very beginning, sharing bounties with one another, be it freshly caught fish, vegetables grown in a neighbor’s garden, or fruit from a tree that had particularly good growth that season. All the ingredients come together and create the shared meal.
There Are No Courses
It doesn’t matter what is being served, and whether or not it is classically served in courses in some of the fancier restaurants throughout the world. When the food is cooked, it all goes on the table, no matter what it is.
A pot of lentil soup is placed on the corner of the table. A bowl of olives and feta cheese are placed in the center. A traditional salad appears on the table right after it is prepared. When the fish is done cooking, that appears on the table too, as do any of the sides. You pick at some fish, take a spoonful of salad, and then ladle some soup into your bowl. You may go back for seconds of the salad, or reach for a bit of bread and some olive oil and cheese before taking a break to sip some of your wine.
There may seem to be no organization to it, but to the Greeks, it makes perfect sense. It is because of this style of eating, that meals could end up taking several hours. The classical way of dining doesn’t really exist here, and the food can be enjoyed whenever it is done being cooked, without waiting.
Greek family style dining might not be what many of us are used to, but many times it is a welcome change of pace. Not having to rush through a meal is one of the many reasons people reflect positively on time spent vacationing in Greece.