Ancient Greek culture is the cornerstone of many modern societies, and its influences are still felt today. Similarly, Greek food has stood the test of time because it has evolved and continues to do so, with new cooking techniques, ingredients, and influences. Modern Greek cuisine has undergone a few changes compared what the ancient Greeks ate. Explore this guide to learn more about how.
How Did Greek Cuisine Change Over Time?
Like most ancient cultures, the Greeks ate what was available to them. Their diets included cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and seafood. The traditional Grecian cuisine had three essential ingredients—wheat, olive oil, and wine which epitomized frugality and simplicity because of their abundance. Luckily, they have remained a part of modern Greek cuisine, too.
The availability of red meat changed Greek food dramatically. The Greek diet typically featured fish instead for practicality’s sake—their livestock was more useful for milk and wool. But as technology and cultural forces changed, many Greek foods began to incorporate red meat as an ingredient. Present-day Greek cuisine also uses tomatoes, lemons, potatoes, and eggplants, which were not native to the region in ancient times. Although both Eastern and Western cultures substantially influenced contemporary Greek food, it preserved its distinctive taste.
What Remains the Same
One thing that remains constant with Greek cuisine is the use of olive oil in many dishes. It lends a characteristic flavor not found in other vegetable oils. Moreover, it pairs well with herbs like basil, oregano, bay leaves, and thyme to season a dish.
Bread is another lasting staple. Many Greek foods use different types of bread, not just to eat, but also to scoop sauces and wrap meat. Pita—a round flatbread—is famously served as a wrap for gyros.
Most contemporary Greek food doesn’t stray far from its roots—it’s cooked slowly and seasoned with simple herbs to bring out the flavor.
Change is good, especially when it comes to food. Try a new or classic take on Greek food when you head over to Yia Yia’s Homemade Greek Food in New York, NY. Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, it is home to the best-tasting gyro platters, souvlaki, moussaka, and other authentic Greek fares. Check out their mouthwatering menu online or call (212) 452-1210 for delivery or takeout.