Traditional Ingredients

Every cuisine in the world is the sum of its parts, of its ingredients, in other words, those basic foods and flavor combinations that are the cook’s alphabet for both carrying on traditions and creating new dishes that are both authentic and contemporary.

Greece is blessed with a wide gamut of basic ingredients that flourish in this perfect Mediterranean climate. First and foremost, of course, are olives and olive oil, which are as basic as water to the Greeks. Fruits, greens, and a wide array of fresh, seasonal vegetables and legumes are the mainstay of traditional Greek cooking, some with distinctly regional associations. Greece is also blessed with a wealth of “natural gourmet” products, foods that come from the land or sea and that have a long history, such as honey, saffron (Krokos Kozani), Mastiha Chios, a great wealth of herbs, both fresh and dried, and botargo as well as other preserved seafood specialties. The sea provides excellent conditions for organized fisheries, and aquaculture is one of the most important industries in Greece. Greeks have been consumers of cheese and yogurt from time immemorial. While feta is the best-known Greek cheese, there are at least 60 unique regional cheeses. Other specialty foods that define the Greek table and boast both historical and cultural depth are the sweet and savory rusks, called paximadia.

Following is a brief description of some of the basic Greek ingredients.