Greece and its culture are very rich, it doesn’t go unnoticed. The extraordinary environment, white-walled towns and a tasty food are the first associations when thinking of this magnificent land.
Even though the topic is infinite, this article is a tribute to the healthy secrets of Greek food.
The traditional Greek table demonstrates a variety of colours and flavours in a large selection of local ingredients. Not surprisingly, the Mediterranean diet is recognized as the healthiest diet around the world. Majority of health experts and even science research agrees on that.
Six healthy customs of Greek cuisine are revealed in this article. Thus, take your notebook, these universal cooking habits can be adapted to any kitchen.
1. Olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is irreplaceable when enriching Mediterranean food. Olive oil is acknowledged as the finest among oils. However, the region and diversity of olives determine its taste and quality. Greece produces 300,000 tons of olive oil annually. Even though it’s quite a small country, it holds 3rd place among olive oil producing countries. As much as 70% of all production is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The region documents around 120 million producing olive trees.
2. Fresh and seasonal ingredients
Everyone would agree that Greek food pleases the eye. Fresh fruits and seasonal vegetables are the basics of the cuisine. Simplicity is the key there: Greeks typically roast or serve veggies raw with a bit of mild spices in order to maintain the original taste. They use fruits in desserts which are also very simple and contain just a few ingredients.
3. Organic ingredients
Due to the mild Greek climate, most vegetables and fruits are grown in natural ways that helps to maintain their flavour and aroma. The country has a great range of local vegetrables like tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, aubergine, cabbage, carrot, parsley and onion. Speaking about fruits, watermelon and melon are the kings of the summer there. Apricots, peaches, nectarines and cherries are also delicious and highly nutritious fruits you can find in Greece. Citrus trees are also a very common thing. Autumn pleases with figs and grapes.
Honey is also a very important part of Greek cuisine. “According to ancient Greek myths, honey was one of the basic foods of the Olympian gods and Zeus was honey-fed by the nymph Melissa.” (Tourist guide of Greece) Lately, honey started to be used in most local recipes that include meat or seafood.
4. Simplicity is the key
No fancy or sophisticated cooking techniques are used in Greek cuisine. They keep it simple. Roasting, grilling and steaming are the most popular ways of cooking. The plates are light with no extra spices or heavy sauces. In fact, it’s a secret of desirable body lines!
5. The use of herbs
Mother Nature supplies the region with a great deal of wild herbs and spices. When it comes to cooking, Greeks use thyme, dill, parsley and oregano for dressing their dishes. Some local herbs are also used as natural remedies for healing.
Wine culture has been enriching Greek cuisine since antiquity. Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world and among the first wine-producing territories in Europe. (Wikipedia) With an abundance of native grape varieties, which contains more than 300 species, it makes the region as a vast vineyard. Consequently, the volume of wine produced in Greece amounted over 2.5 million hectoliters last year. Obviously, wine accompanies Greeks meals as a cooking ingredient and as a beverage itself.
This introduction was only a small, but essential part of healthy cooking habits in Greece. Since the region is so rich and tremendous, it is impossible to reveal everything at once. Luckily a sentence of Greek poet Odysseus Elitis can summarize a quite complex culture very simple: “If you try to break down Greece into its elements, in the end you will be left with an olive tree, a wine and a ship”.