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Traditional Greek Cuisine and where to get it Page 6

Fruit and Nuts

After a Greek meal, a plate of fruit will often be brought out, of whatever is in season, both in homes and in tavernas and restaurants. In the latter, for example, wedges of apple sprinkled with cinnamon, a toothpick in each piece, might be served. In summer, 'karpouzi' (watermelon), is often the fine closure to a good meal. Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and bitter oranges (called 'nerandzia), and kitron, are grown in many parts of Greece, including the Peloponnese, Crete and other islands, and Greek food would be vastly altered without the ubiquitous lemon, used in avgolemono soup, on meat (rather than fish), and on boiled greens. Quince, cherry, large and small pears (among the small ones, a variety known as 'krystalia', which ripen way before autumn), apple, kiwi, several kinds of melon (peponi), peach (rhodakino), and nectarine (nektarini), various plums (damaskino, koromilo), figs, grapes, strawberry (fraoulo) in spring, as well as the already mentioned 'karpouzi' (watermelon), are all grown in Greece. Flowering nut trees make stunning displays of color in spring, include most notably, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios ( these last mainly on the island of Aegina). Raisins are also produced from grapes, and prunes from plums.

The spoon sweet (made from fruit)

The traditional Greek 'glikokoutaliou' (spoon sweet) is made from the rinds of various fruits, which are boiled in a sugar syrup and preserved all year in jars, to be served on a tiny dish, along with a 'Greek' coffee and/or a little glass of raki (tsipouro-see drinks, below), and a glass of water. Popular fruits used for this sweet preserve include quince (kidhoni), orange (portokali), bitter orange (nerandzi), cherry (kerasi).


Many fruit juices are sold commercially in Greece, often in mixes with some tropical fruits included, and most often in a carton, small or large. Traditionally, Greeks made(and make) orange juice from their own oranges, in places where there was/is an abundance of these. Soft drinks are now widely sold in Greece as well, though hardly traditional.


Some of the well known traditional Greek teas are the sage tea called 'faskomilo', often drunk for colds in winter, and the 'tsai tou vounou' (mountain tea). Greeks harvest both spearmint ('dhiosmos), peppermint ('menda'), and 'khamomili' (chamomile) for herbal teas as well. Black and green teas are now found in most supermarkets, or at tea and coffee sellers.


Coffee is immensely popular in Greece, made in various forms. The coffee that comes in tiny cups that sit on top of tiny saucers, has only been called 'Greek coffee' since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in the 1970s, being an Ottoman legacy and previously referred to as 'Turkish coffee. Such coffee was originally made with home roasted and home ground fresh coffee beans, and was stronger (and with better flavor) than the kind ubiquitously sold and served in Greece these days (a couple of widely sold package brands that come in a sealed bag, or ground fresh in some markets, though of mediocre quality). The advent of the modern 'kafekopteio' (coffee stores that offer a wide variety of coffees, some of them of good quality, and grind them fresh for customers), has made better quality 'Greek' coffee available, as well as fresh beans for those who want to roast their own. 'Greek coffee' is traditionally boiled (along with the requested amount of sugar, or with none) in the long handled pot known as the briki (made traditionally of copper), and poured immediately into the tiny cups ('flitjania'-a Turkish word), while it still has its foam , the patterns in the residue left at the bottom of the cup sometimes read by fortune tellers. This coffee, when served black (no sugar) is called 'sketo' (plain), 'metrio' (medium sweet), or 'gliko' ( very sweet), all of these terms given here in the accusative, as this is the form in which they are usually requested (ie. Thelo ena elliniko café, sketo. I want a black Greek coffee).

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