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Food, eating habits and cusine of Greece

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The subtle, soothing flavours of a Mediterranean cuisine with influences from the Balkans, Anatolia, and the Middle East is what visitors to Greece can look forward to.

Simple and colourful with a variety of fresh ingredients and interesting flavours, Greek cuisine combines appetizers (meze), soups and main meat, fish or vegetable dishes. Lamb is often braised and stewed in casseroles with assorted vegetables and skewered and broiled while other meats such as pork, beef, and game are marinated, grilled, or baked. Fish and seafood such as tuna, mullet, bass, halibut, swordfish, anchovies, sardines, shrimp (prawns), octopus, squid and mussels are consumed with great relish.

Moussaka, layered with eggplant or zucchini and a garlic-scented meat sauce, and bearing a custard topping, is the ubiquitous casserole dish. Fresh feta, Romano, and Kasseri, in particular, are used to accompany homemade whole-grain bread or salad or to grate and top vegetables or pasta. Tomato, eggplant, potato, green beans, okra, green peppers, and onions are important vegetables while wheat is the main cereal. Olive oil is ubiquitous and used to flavour almost every dish.

No laggards in dessert either, there is a range of offerings that will appeal to the sweet tooth. While fresh and dried fruit are the staple dessert, special occasions call for rich concoctions laced with honey. Baklava, a dessert made of filo pastry layers with nuts, sugar, syrup, and cloves, is known all over the world. Loukoumades, which are fried balls of dough drenched in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, are also popular.

Wine, beer and Ouzo (an 80-proof clear alcoholic beverage that is flavored with anise) are popular beverages as is Greek coffee, which is derived from Turkish coffee. It is made by boiling finely ground coffee beans, and is served thick, strong, and sweet.

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