The ''joie de vivre" of the Greeks is infectious.
An evening out, whether it be in metropolitan areas or in an island village, will prove to be memorable and economical.
Greeks in all walks of life use evening dining as a principal source of entertainment. They dine late and enjoy open - air places during the warm summer months, even if air - conditioning is available.
In most establishments that cater to Greek clientele, service is likely to be friendly, warm and informal. Formality is found in the deluxe restaurants only.
A meal in Greece is highlighted with a selection of hors d' oeuvre's, hot and cold (referred to as mezedes), which are served in small plates placed in the centre of the table family style.
Greeks are not connoisseurs of soup but the few available are meals in themselves.
Mezedes are comprised of such items as melitzanosalata (mashed eggplant with oil, lemon and garlic), taramosalata (Greek caviar spread), dolmadakia (meat or rice rolled in grapevine leaves), kalamarakia (deep fried squid), tyropitakia (cheese wrapped in strudel leaves), kolokithakia (deep fried zucchini) are usually served with tzatziki (cucumber, yoghurt and garlic spread), keftedes (meatballs), stuffed peppers and tomatoes, pickled octopus, and more.
The main course is a casserole or grilled meat of fish.
There are also many delectable meat stews to choose from, as well as plain grilled cuts of meat and of course the well known charcoal grilled lamb or pork called souvlaki.
Fish and shellfish are excellent when caught cooked and eaten the same day.
Salad is usually ordered with the main course and can be prepared with fresh vegetables or cooked dandelions (greens are boiled in water, drained and served with oil and lemon).
Horiatiki, the usual Greek salad, consists of tomato slices, cucumber slices, olives and feta cheese dressed with oil and vinegar.
Seasonal vegetables, such as artichokes, beans, peas, carrots, and zucchini are often cooked and served together in the casserole dishes rather than separately.
Cheese is usually consumed with bread which can vary tremendously in flavour depending on the particular region.
There is a variety of cheeses produced in Greece.
They include some very interesting regional specialities. But the most commonly offered in restaurants are feta (white semi-soft and salted), kasseri (yellow semi-soft), graviera (hard) and manouri (unsalted creamy and fattening).
are a delectable treat, including baklava (consisting of strudel leaves and walnuts) and kataifi (which consists of nuts wrapped in shredded wheat with a honey sauce).
In the summer, however, sweets give way to fresh fruits such as large peaches. melon, watermelon, grapes and pears
Greek coffee is similar to Turkish coffee.
The important thing to know when ordering are the words pikro (bitter), metrio (semi-sweet), and gliko (sweet).
Coffee is usually served with a glass of water.
There is a wide variety of eating establishments in Greece, usually characterised by certain well defined features.
A conventional eating establishment with tablecloths. They tend to be in the upper price range
An offshoot of the traditional countryside eating place. The owner and family members can often be seen preparing meals and serving food. A tavern places a great deal of emphasis on the mezedes and traditional cooking. The upper price range taverns can be very sophisticated establishments in food, service and decor, even though they rarely are as expensive as the deluxe restaurants.
A barbecue style eating place with a large spit conspicuously in the centre of the entrance. Here one can inspect the roast pork, lamb and chicken. Your selection is priced according to the weight.
Salad French fries and cheese compliment such a meal.
Psarotaverna (fish tavern) They specialise in fish and almost found by seaside or harbour side In a psarotaverna one will find fresh fare of the day, usually the owners morning catch
Prices and Tipping
In Greece a 15% service charge is usually included in your bill.
However, if it is not, or if you are very happy with the service follow the custom of your own country. From here things appear to be much the same.
Waiters for instance, will expect a 10% tip or less for large bills.
The Greek Tourism Organisation (GNTO) has tried to come to grips with the confusing tipping problem.
Menus are usually presented with two parallel price charts. On the left the price of the food and drink only. On the right the same price with service and tax added. The service charge is ordained by Greek law so additional tipping is really a recognition of special service for special requests.
The current Greek custom is to leave some loose change on the plate and an equal amount on the table The tip on the plate is for the waiter, the tip on the table is for the busboy who served the water, brought extra bread and so on. Busboys work for tips alone.
Bouzouki is the most popular entertainment for the great majority of the Greeks.
Bouzouki music is similar to the American Blues with many adaptations and intensities. The analogy is not accidental either.
Bouzouki like the Blues emerged from a sub culture of unemployed city dwellers persecuted by the authorities and treated as outcasts by the more prominent middle class. Their refuge was born from the small dens and coffee houses they created in the less desirable areas of the city.
They found consolation in the music they created which reflected the hard times and their experiences in pain and pleasure in love and friendship. But the music composed had a unique quality and pathos as related to the Blues era. It was later adapted and patronised by the wealthy class and in time underwent many changes to emerge as the typical Greek music of today.
Bouzouki night clubs can be very expensive.
Before you join in the traditional breaking of plates. ask the management as to, the charge per dozen.
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