“Greece’s regional cuisine is a result of over 4,000 years of fusion – of plants, spices and influences.”
- The flavors of summer in rural Greece
are as intense as the sunlight.
The foundation of excellent cuisine is fresh, local and seasonal foods, which is an enduring reality here. When you explore the countryside far from urban or tourist areas, dine with residents and see what is growing or grazing in the fields or squirming in the fishing nets, you’ll discover diverse regional cuisine.
Greece’s regional cuisine is a result of over 4,000 years of fusion – of plants, spices and influences. If we cast the term “traditional Greek cuisine” out into the galaxy, it would ricochet like Zeus’ lightening bolt with as many interpretations as stars in the sky. Climate, terrain, exploration, invasions, occupation, migration, culture, trade and economics have all shaped cuisine within the boundaries of modern Greece.
The complex flavors of civilizations that survived and evolved through time begin with soil and water. Sustenance farming (small home or communal gardens), which was mandatory for many Greeks up until two generations ago,
is on the rise again for different reasons. People miss good food and don’t trust industrial or outside sources. There are plenty of food safety facts to prove their suspicions today.
Many sustenance farmers are by nature sustainable organic farmers,
enjoying Greece’s bounties to the fullest.
There’s no such thing as food miles. They cannot prevent industrial damage around them, but they can be sure of their food sources. Rural taverna owners generally produce many of their own supplies, such as olive oil, bread, wine, cheese, vegetables and meats.
This gives new meaning to the term homemade on urban menus.
When your dinner is this fresh, the flavors
Based on varied terrain and local customs, not all allegedly classic Greek ingredients are produced or consumed everywhere. Long hot summers ensure that most favored fruits and vegetables will thrive wherever flat land with good soil exists. However, since flat land is at a premium, tiered gardens can be seen clutching the rocky hillsides. There are conventional farms and greenhouses today, but to discover cultural-culinary heritage, we’ll need to dig into traditional farming.Village plots packed with plants utilizing every inch of earth are vibrant with red, green and yellow peppers,
scarlet heirloom tomatoes,
polished purple eggplants, orange zucchini blossoms, okra, melon and a sea of green beans, lettuces, cucumbers, dill, parsley, onions and garlic.
The onions and garlic, along with basil, serve a dual purpose, guarding their companion plants as natural bug repellants.
It was not until the early 20th century that most New World crops were successfully cultivated in certain regions of Greece and integrated into everyday cuisine. Tomatoes, potatoes, sweet and hot peppers and lima beans are a few examples. Other produce now considered Greek staples arrived in earlier eras, such as eggplant,
apples and citrus from Asia. Most every foreign plant was considered poisonous or highly suspicious until someone proved otherwise. Now, they thrive in temperate gardens of Greece, as if they existed here since the beginning of time.