Greek food has a venerable history dating back to antiquity. Although the country’s rocky terrain limits its agricultural output, cooking and cuisine are essential to its culture. Olives, cheese, and wheat are integral parts of the local diet, appearing in salads, stews, and breads. Seafood at restaurants – often squid, octopus, mussels, and fish - is likely to come fresh from the Mediterranean, especially on the Greek islands.
Greek cuisine is simple but incredibly varied. In terms of popular dishes, you will find moussaka (aubergine & lamb casserole), souvlaki (spit-roasted meat), and dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with meat & herbs) in many tavernas and restaurants, sometimes with regional variations. Meat-free options include briam (roasted vegetables in tomato sauce), and of course, Greek salad with olives & feta cheese. For indulging your sweet tooth, pastry shops serve delicacies such as Turkish-inspired baklava (filo pastry layered with honey and chopped nuts). Ice cream and honey with yogurt are also common sweet snacks.
Drinks are a major part of the traditional dining experience. Ouzo, an anise-flavoured spirit distilled from pressed grapes, is Greece’s most popular alcohol, usually served as an aperitif with iced water and some small appetizers. Be careful not to drain your glass too quickly – it is a strong drink, meant to be enjoyed over a period of time.
Safe eating while travelling in Greece
Food hygiene standards in Greece are relatively high, so travellers are unlikely to fall ill from food poisoning during their trip. As with anywhere in the world, it is important to be wary of any meat or fish that has not been cooked thoroughly. If food looks old, unclean or poorly prepared, it is best to avoid it.