This week's Cuisine Decoder is Greek! If someone were to ask you what you know about Greece, would your answer include breaking plates and yelling, "OPA"? While that is a fun part of the culture, there is so much more to consider- particularly the food! Never fear, the cuisine decoder his here. Whether you realize it or not, the fresh, light Mediterranean ingredients in Greek dishes have become a favorite across the globe – and have even served as the basis of the famous Mediterranean Diet. While many restaurants in America will blend Italian and Greek dishes, and offer varieties of both, Greek cuisine does have very distinctive flavors and ingredients.
Have you ever eaten olives, had a slice of pita bread, come to enjoy feta cheese topping your salad, or cooked with olive oil? If so, you have experienced four staples in Greek cuisine. In addition to the olives and cheese, other staples of Greek cooking include yogurt, fresh vegetables and herbs, wine, fish, and varieties of meat such as lamb, poultry, rabbit, and pork. These ingredients combine to skillfully create some of the most popular dishes in Greek Cuisine:
Greek Salad: A salad that can be found on a variety of menus, it typically consists of tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, onion and ham. It is often topped with oregano and is accompanied by olive oil.
Gyros: A popular food found at fairs and festivals (and our own food truck rallies with Rolling Gormet and The Famous Greek), is meat roasted and sliced from a turning spit and is wrapped in pita bread along with garnishes such as tomato and onions, and certain sauces.
Moussaka: Moussaka is a heartier casserole dish, and is the quid essential meat and potatoes dish. It is made of typically fried potatoes and spiced minced meat. There are other versions that include vegetables such as eggplant.
Souvlaki: The name literally means "skewer." Souvlaki can include any kind of grilled meat that is served on skewer. This can range from lamb, chicken, pork, fish, or shrimp. As it is being grilled, the meat is typically marinated in oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and lemon- ensuring the flavoring of the meat is robust.
While Greek cuisine has a tradition that dates back to ancient times, it has found its place in American dining- and many diners may not have even realized it. Next time you are visiting a Tampa Bay Food Truck rally event, or even visiting a brick and mortar restaurant, be sure to take a look at the menu and see if you can spot Greek influences.