Greeks approach food with a combination of seriousness and nostalgia, inevitably thinking back to the dishes they were raised on. And a meal is almost always a social, convivial occasion, which revives the original meaning of companionship – people who broke bread together.
There is no notion of the western ‘eat and run’ syndrome. Here in Greece, a lunch or dinner can last for hours, and the more people gathered at the table the better; for good food and good wine bring good talk. So, sit down and prepare to enjoy yourself. You’ll start with a series of hors d’oeuvres, known as the mezedes. Presented on little plates and designed to whet your appetite, they may be accompanied by ouzo, grappa-like tsipouro or, of course, wine.
One thing that will strike you immediately is the freshness and excellence of the local produce: the just-picked salads, the freshly caught seafood, the meat from livestock raised on a hillside not factory-farmed. So, what are the basic elements of Greek cuisine? Salt from the ubiquitous sea, olive oil, our liquid gold that contains all the goodness of the sun, and bread, the staff of life, ground from wheat, the age-old crop of the land.