The dictionary of Greek traditional food & taste

Enjoy eating as the Greeks eat. We’ll provide the dictionary of Greece’s unique flavours and you can let your imagination and creativity start to run wild. Knowing your food is vital in Attica, especially because all of Greek’s finest delicacies can be found in Athens and the surrounds, with most of them made right here in Attica.

FETA: a traditional brined curd cheese that goes well with every dish. Enjoy it plain, with a little olive oil and oregano, with freshly baked bread, with a choriatiki salad, in the oven, on the grill, with tomato, melted, as a salad dressing or in cheese pies, the list goes on…

CHORIATIKI: we’re talking real Greek traditional salad here, a main course where tomato meets cucumber, green pepper, onion, feta cheese, olive oil and oregano.

TZATZIKI: yoghurt, cucumber and lots of garlic. Avoid if you have a hot date.

SOUVLAKI PITA: the king of souvlaki. Pork, lamb or chicken brochette wrapped in a pitta between tomato, onion, tzatziki and sometimes fries.

KALAMAKI: the vice chairman of souvlaki, it rules with simplicity. Pork, chicken or beef brochette grilled and sprinkled with salt, oregano and lemon.

GYROS: pork meat roasted vertically and cut into thin slices, served with grilled pitta and tzatziki or wrapped as a souvlaki.

MOUSSAKA: the name is Arabic ('musaqa’) but the recipe of layered aubergine, ground beef and tomato oven-baked with a thick topping of bechamel sauce is totally Greek.

DOLMADAKIA: fresh vine leaves hugging rice (often accompanied by ground beef) and spices. Usually served in olive oil and lemon or special mustard sauce.

MEZEH: a generic term for small portions of Greek munchies, hot or cold.

FAVA: yellow, warm, perfectly boiled fava beans that go wonderfully with olive oil, lemon and chopped onion.

DAKOS: traditional hard wheat bread soaked in water, olive oil and vinegar, and topped with juicy red tomato, crumbled feta cheese and oregano.

HORTA: a generic term for boiled greens served with olive oil and lemon with a slice of feta on the side.

SAGANAKI: yellow cheese, fried to perfection until crisp on the outside, with a slice of lemon.

SPANAKOPITA: spinach and traditional feta cheese in layers of thin filo dough.

TARAMOSALATA: fish roe mixed with boiled potatoes or moistened breadcrumbs, olive oil and lemon juice

YEMISTA: tomatoes, peppers, courgette and aubergine stuffed with rice, herbs and raisins then oven baked.

PASTICHIO: baked pasta with a ground-meat filling and a rich, creamy bechamel sauce topping.

SCORDALIA: thick garlic and potato puree, which usually accompanies deep-fried fish.

OUZO: rarely straight, instead served mixed with water and a cube of ice. Inseparable from a mezeh, and a perfect companion to charcoaled octopus and calamari. Ouzo is a protected designation-of-origin product.

TSIPOURO: the forefather of ouzo, this is a strong distilled spirit popular among (mainly) male drinkers.

MASTICHA: made on the famous Chios Island these 'tears' make an excellent digestif.

RETSINA: a dry white wine with lumps of resin, perhaps the most famous Greek wine, popular all over the world.

FRAPPE: once the king of summer beverages, it fell from grace thanks to the freddo. Powdered Nescafé with sugar, shaken till it foams and served over ice.

FREDDO: iced espresso with foamed cold milk and crushed ice.

ELLINIKOS: finely ground coffee beans boiled in a pot (briki) and served hot with lots of bubbles. Comes straight, semi-sweet, sweet or very sweet.

KOULOURI: if the average Athenian decides to have breakfast on the go, you can bet they’ll be enjoying this round string of tasty dough with sesame seeds.

BOUGATSA: filo pastry-engulfed sweet semolina custard, sprinkled with powered sugar.

LOYKOUMADES: similar to small doughnuts, loukoumades are fried balls of dough drenched in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon

BAKLAVA: filo pastry layers filled with chopped walnuts and drenched in honey.

KANDAIFI: unlike baklava, yet a close relative, kandaifi are shredded filo dough filled with chopped nuts and drenched in syrup.

GALAKTOBOUREKO: custard baked between layers of filo and then soaked with lemon-scented honey syrup.

FYSTIKI: pistachio nuts grown on the island of Aegina. They can be found fresh, or served plain, but are best salt-roasted (its most popular version).

AMYGDALOTO: powdered blanched almonds, confectioner's sugar and rose water.

KOURABIEDES: flour, butter and crushed roasted almonds generously dusted with powdered sugar. They are generally available around Christmas, but some can be found in speciality pastry shops, in Athens all year round.

PASTELI: sesame seeds and pure honey, a triumph of simplicity.

YAOURTI MELI: yoghurt with Hymettus honey combined with peaches or watermelon makes a yummy breakfast. Also served as a dessert, with honey and chopped walnuts.

LOUKOUMIA: made from starch and sugar, this is similar to Turkish delight, usually flavoured with rose water or mastic.

GLYKO KOUTALIOY (SPOON SWEETS): the most popular version is sour cherry (vissino).

YPOVRYCHIO: a spoonful of vanilla (sometimes flavoured with mastic raisins) submerged in a glass of ice-cold water.

If you want to feel that you have “experience” of Greek Traditional Food, you should taste most of the above suggestions!

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