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Traditional Greek Dining Page 1

Traditional Greek dining means eating in tavernas or koutokakia. Its perfectly acceptable to ask local passers by

  • Please where do the Greeks eat?   ~ Parakalo, oi Elleenees, pou tro-ne?
  • I don't want a tourist place ~ Den thelo touristiko magazi
  • I want authentic food! ~ Thelo authentiko fa-gee-to!
  • Is there a koutoukaki near by? ~ Koutoukaki eparhee edo koda?

The Greek Taverna and Koutoukaki dining experience

Having barrel wine is my way of distinguishing a superior good traditional taverna or koutoukaki. A koutoukaki is a smallish tavern, with barrel wine. The noun 'koutouki' also describes a state of alcoholic stupor. The chefs in these later type of restaurant can be surprisingly excellent while providing welcome twists on your standard fare. Given a choice I would go to a koutoukaki every time for a change. There are different types of tavernas that specialize in fish, meat, soup, etc. Most have a bit of everything so this need not concern you.

The KOUTOUKAKI is my personal favorite. The barrel wine is good, if the chef is imaginative the food excellent, the prices more than reasonable. You'll never, in a real taverna, get the feeling that they want you to leave so they can turn over the table for the next customer. Service may be a bit slow but its usually worth the wait.

I close my eyes and think of a Greek Taverna and what comes to mind: A few square wooden tables, with a table covering consisting of a piece of paper with its corners hanging over the flat sides of the table attached buy a huge elastic or little plastic clamps to keep it blowing off in the wind. Uncomfortable wooden chairs with thatched bottoms and wooden corners that hurt your legs. A straw basket filled with too few paper napkins and eating utensils. A zinc salt & pepper holder with toothpicks and extra napkins usually absent. A bottle of Olive Oil and of Vinegar. A dented ashtray made of tin.The green walls are covered with old framed black and white pictures of grandpa and grandma that may have been taken after their passing and assorted pieces of bric-a-brac hanging here and there. Greek music that come from a transistor radio or no name brand boom box usually chipped somehow. Bare light bulbs, flat lighting and wonderful smells emanating form the kitchen area towards the back. Huge barrels of wine above shoulder height all in a row. A steam table case with the food visible. Lots of Greeks sitting there staring at me or my girlfriend. Maybe you are there too ~ probably not ~ too bad!

Table Manners in Greece

Just as in Muslim countries, where it is impolite not to burp after a meal in order to show appreciation to your host things are a bit different here... not for religious reasons however. Don't worry about sharing your appetizer or salad plate, these are communal plates. Of course, my mother would disagree. Yours would too probably. If you order a main course, you'll get your very own plate. If this bugs you ask the waiter for Pia-tak-yia (small plates). There are no place settings either. Your utensils will be in the bread basket along with too few napkins. Harto Bet-set-tes Sound barbaric? You'll love it.

By American standards, depending on your upbringing, table manners in traditional Greek taverns are of a lower standard. It used to bother me. It doesn't anymore. Of course cultured and refined Greeks have excellent table manners. They generally don't switch hands after cutting the meat etc., but do rise when a lady joins the table and so on. Is there a Greek Emily Post-opoulos? Yes and she is usually a foreign nanny!

Traditional Greek Food Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7