GREEK CUISINE HAS A CULINARY TRADITION OF SOME 4,000 YEARS AND IS PART OF THE HISTORY AND THE CULTURE OF GREECE.
Its flavors change with the season and its geography. Greek cookery, historically a forerunner of Western cuisine, spread its culinary influence, via ancient Rome, throughout Europe and beyond. It has influences from the different people’s cuisine the Greeks have interacted with over the centuries, as evidenced by several types of sweets and cooked foods.
Much of Greek cuisine is part of the larger tradition of Ottoman cuisine, the names of the dishes revealing Arabic, Persian or Turkish roots: moussaka, tzatziki, yuvarlakia, keftes and so on.
Many dishes’ names probably entered the Greek vocabulary during Ottoman times, or earlier in contact with the Persians and the Arabs. Greek cookery makes wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine and meat (white and red, including lamb, poultry, rabbit and pork). Other important ingredients include olives, cheese, aubergine, courgette, lemon juice, vegetables, herbs, bread and yoghurt.
Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece: lentil soup, fasolada, retsina (white or rosé wine flavored with pine resin) and pasteli (sesame seeds baked with honey); some to the Hellenistic and Roman periods: loukaniko (dried pork sausage); and Byzantium: feta cheese, avgotaraho (bottarga) and paximadhia (rusk). Lakerda (pickled fish), mizithra cheese and dessert like diples, koulourakia, moustokouloura and melomakarono also date back to the Byzantine period, while the variety of different pitas probably dates back to the ancient times.