greek kitchen...rather various
January 28, 2007 6:56am CST
The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cooking is olive oil, which is present in almost every dish. It is produced from the trees prominent throughout the region, adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. The basic grain in Greece is wheat, though barley is also grown. Important vegetables include tomato, aubergine, potato, green beans, okra, and onions. Honey in Greece is mainly flower-honey from the nectar of fruit and citrus trees (lemon, orange, bigarade trees), thyme honey, and pine honey from conifer trees. Mastic is grown on the Aegean island of Chios. The terrain has tended to favour the production of goats and sheep over cattle, and thus beef dishes tend to be a rarity by comparison. Fish dishes are also common, especially in coastal regions and the islands. A great variety of cheese types are used in Greek cuisine, including Feta, Kasseri, and Mizithra. Some dishes use filo pastry. Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach. Traditionally, Greek dishes are served warm rather than hot.