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Traditional Greek Cuisine and where to get it Page 5

Other meat dishes

Oven roasted pork with potatoes (hirino me pata-tess sto fourno) is a great favorite in Greece, the meat usually very moist and succulent and the potatoes roasted with it also very moist and deliciously flavored with the juices of the meat. Some roasted meats are cooked with lemon and oregano ('rigani' in Greek), especially lamb. Boiled meat ('vrasto', from the Greek verb, 'vrazo'-I boil) is a very popular feast dish, especially in winter, and is often goat or beef. 'Bifteki' (taken from the English word 'beef steak') is the Greek version of the hamburger; keftedhes are little meatballs, often rolled in flour and friend or baked and served as a side dish or appetizer. 'Loukanika' are sausages, which may be grilled, or cooked in a sauce. 'Papoutsakia' (from the Greek word for shoe, 'papoutsi'), are stuffed aubergine/eggplant halves baked with a filling of minced lamb (much resembling moussakas, without the bechamel topping).

Fish and shellfish

There are long lists of the many kinds of fish and seafood available on Greek menus in countless guidebooks, so only a few of the more popular will be mentioned here. Fish can be grilled, baked, fried, served in soups or stews, and are most often local if eaten on islands, though 'bakaliaro' (salted cod) is imported from the North Sea, and is usually served with 'skordhalia', the garlic dip mentioned above (under 'Salads'). On e of the kinds of fish most likely to be locally caught (at least on the islands or in seaside places in on the mainland) are the little fish called 'maridhes', which are fried whole after being dipped in flour, and are often quite tasty, and usually very inexpensive. 'Kalamari' (squid) or 'kalamarakia' (baby squid), are usually deep fried in oil and are quite a favorite. One very large variety of squid is stuffed ('kalamari yemisto') with a filling of rice and herbs, and is very delicious. One of the dishes made with 'Oktapodhi' (octopus-whose Greek name means, literally, 'eight legs), is the stew called 'Oktapodhi krasato' ('krasi' being wine, in which the octopus is braised). It is also fried, grilled, etc. 'Soupia' (with the accent on the end of the word, and which means 'cuttlefish') can be grilled, or cooked in a very fine stew (though the raw item in the fish markets looks quite slimy and unappetizing).

Rice and Pasta

Rice is popular in Greece, often made as a 'pilafi' with other foods (meat, chicken, etc.). Noodles though technically 'zymarika' in Greek ('zimono' meaning, I knead), are collectively referred to in Greece as 'makaronia'. The word 'pasta' in Greek means 'pastry' (though it is a word little used, people usually referring to pastries by their individual names). Many kind of 'makaronia' are available in modern Greek supermarkets, including spaghetti, linguini, tagliatelle, spirals, etc. and are also a very popular food, often made with tomato sauce and minced meat ('kimas'). Tomato sauce for noodles in Greece tends to be much lighter than in the west, often just faintly coloring the food with a touch of red. A traditional Greek noodle is the 'hilopita' (the name taken from the Greek words for helix and for pie dough).

A few miscellaneous appetizers ('Orektika', from the Greek word for appetite, 'orexi').


These are the little stuffed vine leaves, the filling made with rice and herbs. Cabbage is sometimes used in winter for this side dish, to be served with lemon juice.


'Kolokithi' is the Greek word for zucchini/courgette, which is grated and mixed with other ingredients, shaped in small balls, rolled in flour, and deep fried or baked.


'Mavromati' means 'black eye'. This dish of black eyed peas can be either a little appetizer, but can also be a full meal for Greeks in winter.

'Ladhi' and 'el-ies'' (Olive oil and olives)

Although the full name for olive oil is 'eleoladho', the simple word for oil, 'ladhi', is generally assumed to mean olive oil, since it is such a basic and essential ingredient in Greek cuisine. Be aware, however, that fast food joints use cheaper (and lighter) oils, as do many tavernas for fried potatoes and the like, these oils being most corn or sunflower seed oil. Many people use such oils in the home as well for some baked good, or for fried potatoes, finding olive oil too heavy for the latter (though others will tell you that they would never use any other oil!). Greeks eat more olive oil per capita than people anywhere else, and many city people travel to their home villages in the fall (autumn) to harvest the olives from their trees, which are often pressed at the local 'liotrivi' (olive oil press, the word taken from the word for olive and the verb for rubbing, 'trivo'). For those who have relatives still living in the villages, olive oil is often taken back to the city or sent on the boat or train, along with other produce, to the extended family members in the cities. In the villages, harvesting of olives is a collective annual ritual (though some trees produce only every other year, if a family has many trees, there will be some harvest every year). Families spend long, and arduous days harvesting the olives, with huge nets laid on the ground under the trees, the male family members knocking them down from the branches with long poles. The oil pressing at the local 'liotrivi' is not so cheap, and those who have many trees and more oil than they need to supply the extended family for the year, may sell some of their oil either to stores or to individuals. There are many kinds of olives. Some of the best olive oil produced in Greece is sold to Italy, where they mix it with their own and pass the mix off as Italian. Olive oil is low in cholesterol, at least in its fresh form (as dressing for salad or greens), though all of the cooked Greek dishes, and especially the 'ladhera' (dishes cooked with oil), are made with liberal amounts of it. Organically produced olive oil is a recent trend, though most villagers in most places still spray their trees against insects.

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