While each Greek meal is fresh and inviting, it is also a trip back through Greece's history. Because Greek food has had such a long living history, it has made its way all around the world and educated people on not just what they are eating, but also ho

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Greek food can seem very overwhelming at first glance. With all the history behind the great nation of Greece and the culture that has developed behind it. Greek cooking offers an incredibly rich and diverse array of foods and beverages that are the culmination of literally thousands of years of living, cooking, and eating. While each Greek meal is fresh and inviting, it is also a trip back through Greece's history. Because Greek food has had such a long living history, it has made its way all around the world and educated people on not just what they are eating, but also how they are eating it. In American culture, we have taken time away from enjoying food and eating around the table, which is due to the lack of time or schedule, but in a Greek way of eating they encourage only eating with company and conversing. Eating for the Greek is not to live, but in more ways the Greek live to eat.

The Greek diet is the excellent example of traditional Mediterranean eating; it is made by kinds of colorful and tasteful foods which are high in nutrients and low in animal fats. Wheat has been consumed in Greece for quite some time and it is the main part of Greek Cuisine. Wheat is the ingredient for making various sorts of breads like pita bread and crusty whole grain peasant bread. Bulgur that is made from cracked whole wheat is consumed with hearty stews or soups and salads. Pasta introduced to the Greeks by the Italians is a well-liked wheat-based food. Rice is another significant grain-food in the Greek diet; it is made with stews or wrapped in grape leaves to make dolmades.

          Similar to wheat, olives have been cultivated in Greece for thousands of years. The golden green oil which is pulled out from the first cold pressing of olives is called extra virgin olive oil and it is mainly used in many traditional Greek dishes. Crusty bread which is consumed with a little extra virgin olive oil is a common accompaniment to food. Besides that, olives are also eaten whole. The regular eaten type is the plump kalamata olive that is added to stews and salads.

           As we know, Greece is mainly surrounded by sea, so they eat fish and shellfish usually. The prevalent types of fish and shellfish include tuna, mullet, bass, halibut, swordfish, anchovies, sardines, shrimp, octopus, squid and mussels. This fish and seafood is eaten in different ways: grilled and seasoned with garlic and lemon juice, baked with yogurt and herbs; cooked in rich tomato sauce, added to soups; or served cold as a side dish. Chicken and game birds such as quail and Guinea foul are enjoyed regularly.

          The warm climate of Greece makes it a good place for growing vegetables and fruits. The colorful and flavorful vegetables form an important part of Greek cuisine. These include , garlic, onions, spinach, artichokes, fennel, lettuce, cabbage, horta (wild greens), zucchini, eggplant and peppers. Fruits are consumed either fresh or kept by drying. Popular ones include , grapes, dates, cherries, apples, pears, plums and . Different kinds of herbs and seasonings are used to flavor food including flat-leaf parsley, dill, oregano, cilantro, mint, ground pepper, sea salt and cinnamon. What is more, lemon juice and lemon rind are used to season food and in dressings.

          Legumes such as , ,  and  are commonly used in Greek cooking. They are eaten either whole in stews, bakes, pilafs, soups and salads, or pureed and used as a dip or spread such as . Many varieties of nuts are used in cooking or consumed as snakes such as pine nuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios.

        Food is a big part of the Greek culture and some may wonder how the food is normally prepared. Greek food is prepared in a way that most Americans may not be familiar with. In regards to cooking the common cooking methods may involve boiling, simmering, frying and stewing. Some of these methods can even involve wood burning fires. Two more common methods are grilling and baking which we seem to be more familiar with. In the Ancient Greek culture they started using clay, glazed and fire pots. Some of these pots are still present in cooking today. It is common in the Greek culture to preserve foods by salting, smoking, drying and preserving in fat and syrup. Food can also be stored with oil on top to keep the air out. These methods are very interesting because they differ a lot from the American culture. Greeks cook in a very slow manner and don’t rush anything. It seems as if the slower they cook the better they believe the food turns out.

The Greek culture has a different way of consuming food. In Ancient Greek culture it was common to eat outside in a courtyard near a home. They were able to eat outside because the cooking equipment was generally light and could be set up outside. On sunny days the Greek women would sit under a covered area because pale skin was seen as a sign of beauty. The women tried to stay out of the sun whenever possible. This tradition of eating outside started in the Ancient Greek culture but is still practiced today. In the present Greek culture meals are seen as very fun. It is normal to have a lot of noise and the meal may be similar to a social gathering. It may be very noisy but overall it is just a happy social gathering for many people. The noise level may go up a lot but it is very common for it to rise to a high level while eating.

There can be all sorts of people present at the large meals. There may be a lot of people including friends and family. It is said to be a very due to all of the conversations going on. Those eating will reach across the table and constantly grab things to put on their plate. The Greek way of eating may be a little different but it seems like fun but a very busy meal. What an American may see as impolite may be normal to someone from Greece. They tend to be sitting down and lean in and put their fork directly in a dish and eat right off of it. Throughout a meal one may be constantly leaning in and reaching over others trying to get food. Greek meals seem like a fun social gathering for large numbers of people. So if you're looking for a way to encourage conversation and camaraderie at mealtime, go Greek! It's hard to be silent when everyone at the table is headed for that last olive (about.com).”

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After studying the Greek culture I have found some similarities to my own culture which is Italian. Before researching Greece I thought my culture would have no similarities at all but I was wrong. The way we eat in my home is similar to the way the Greeks eat in theirs. We normally eat inside and will have food set up on the table. Most people will sit down and reach everywhere and even over people if necessary. This may be seen as rude to some but that is just how our family eats. There will be food set up ...

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