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Studying in Greece

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Greek Cuisine

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

To say I’m eating better here than at home is a drastic understatement. For instance, let me describe exactly what I had for lunch today. To start, I made a traditional Greek tomato salad. This salad is a Greek staple and is eaten throughout the country religiously. It is laughably simple to make since it relies on quality ingredients. Add the following to a bowl: tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green pepper, kalamata olives, and feta cheese all drenched in olive oil and a drop of vinegar. Add salt, pepper, and oregano and it’s ready to be served with a hunk of freshly baked bread from the bakery.

Greece’s mild climate helps yield excellent vegetables, not to mention the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. Every Tuesday and Friday, farmers from the countryside venture into the city to sell their goods at the open-air market. Think of a larger scale farmer’s market that is cheaper, not more expensive, than the supermarket. Each trip to the open-air market is an adventure, with vendors yelling at you and locals bargaining as if it were a sport.

My lunch’s main course was pastitsio, the Greeks version of lasagna. The layers include breadcrumbs, cheese, noodles, ground meat, and an egg-based custard top. I’m salivating just thinking about it. I have to admit I did not make it, though. My Greek relative deserves all the credit there.

For dessert I had galaktoboureko, a traditional Greek pastry made with phyllo dough, custard, and sweet syrup. Bakeries line the streets in Greece, and I could not help myself when I saw this in the store window. As someone with a sweet tooth, Greeks make it hard to walk somewhere without stopping for a little pastry or some gelato.

People say the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest. If this is true, it’s the cherry on top. The Greeks did not sacrifice taste for healthiness, I can assure you of that.


                          Pastitsio and Greek Salad


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