Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Eating in Greece

Eating out in Greece is a national pastime and a leisurely pleasure. Whether
dining at a local taverna (as traditional to Greeks as the pub is to the English)
or an elegant restaurant, Greeks take their time over food. The native cuisine is delightfully uncomplicated and quite different from what's found in Greek or
Cypriot restaurants abroad. Much of the cooking relies on simple seasonings and fresh meat and vegetables.
For breakfast, Greeks rarely eat more than bakery-fresh tiropitas (flaky cheese-filled pastries) or bread. They eat lunch in late afternoon, generally between 2 and 4 pm, and dinner around 10 or 11 pm. To stave off hunger between meals, they enjoy snacking on souvlaki (garlic-marinated lamb kabobs) or tiropitas bought from a street vendor. It's common for Greeks to make a lunch of mezedes, or hors d'oeuvres.
Typical dishes include fried meatballs, squash balls, octopus, shrimp, squid, cheese, olives, stuffed vine leaves, tzatziki (garlicky yogurt and cucumbers), eggplant dip, small sausages and giant beans. You can find mezedes at an ouzeri (serving ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur) or at a mezedopolio (serving locally produced wine or beer); both of these types of restaurants are open only during the day.
For the evening meal, Greek tavernas serve such specialties as moussaka (lamb, eggplant and bechamel sauce), kabobs, pastitsio (lamb or goat meat with macaroni and tomatoes), stifado (braised beef with onions) and paithakia (grilled lamb or goat chops).



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