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Traditional Greek Appetizers and Food in American Culture

Updated on April 18, 2017

The Greek Flag

a cross in the top left corner, 5 blue stripes, 4 white stripes
a cross in the top left corner, 5 blue stripes, 4 white stripes

Rising Star (HubNugget - May, 2012)

winner of bronze medal HubNugget in the food category for the week of 5/11/2012
winner of bronze medal HubNugget in the food category for the week of 5/11/2012 | Source

Rising Star (HubNugget third place)

For the week of 5/11/2012 this hub was nominated for the Hub Nugget award.

I did not write the hub with the intention to win nor do I consider myself to be a professional writer but a special thanks to the HP staff for the consideration.

Greek Flag (Blue and White) and a Cross

Following the silent celebration of the recent Greek Easter on April 15th 2012, I was reminded how good Greek food is. We really celebrate the American Easter but I always quietly remember the Greek Easter. That is why I call it silent celebration. While growing up, I remember how my mom would insist that we acknowledge our heritage and the Greek Easter. I am only Greek from my mother's side and a bit of American, English and French from my father's side. It is difficult to celebrate every holiday that our ancestors did but I wanted to pick some culture to instill tradition into the children. Since I am 50% Greek and my wife is 50% German, we elected to acknowledge our diverse ethnic backgrounds. We have Greek food at least two times a year and attend a local German Oktoberfest :)

Like waving the flag during the Olympic games, I wave the Greek flag in this small tribute to some of the Greek foods that we have managed to keep in our lives. The Greek culture is celebrated two or three times every year, in our home, through some of the traditional foods that are an integral part of Greece. Throughout this article (in parenthesis) is the Greek word for the American word immediately to the left.

If you like any of these foods yell out OPA! That is the word that Greeks yell when they share their excitement and joy with family and friends.

Traditional Greek Appetizers (Mezedes)

the Greek word Meze translates to appetizer
the Greek word Meze translates to appetizer

Traditional Greek Appetizer (Meze) Sampler - OPA!

Grape leaves (Dolmades) stuffed with herbs, rice and sometimes meat are a great way to introduce the Greek culture with a light tasty food (or snack). I have had these rolled fresh made from a local Greek restaurant and also from a Greek restaurant in Philadelphia. Use a Greek extra virgin olive oil, oregano and cooked white rice for your batch. Whole foods has a decent variation of stuffed grape leaves but I prefer the authentic and traditional Greek cuisine versions.

Feta Cheese chunks - This is a white salty cheese made from Goat or Sheep milk. If you cut the cheese in small chunks or buy it crumbled there is little else you will need to do. There is a variation of Feta made with Cow milk but the Goat or Sheep milk is creamier and tastes better.

Greek olives - There are basically two choices here. There are pitted green olives and pitted dark olives (kalamata). Either olive when coated with Greek olive oil is a good choice but kalamata (kidney bean color) olives are a bit saltier.

Sampler Ingredients

  • 1 grape leave beef
  • 1 grape leave herbs
  • 1 grape leave rice, rolled up into a mini tube
  • feta (white) cheese goat milk, cut in small chunks
  • feta (white) cheese sheep milk, cut in small chunks
  • greek green olive greek olive oil, served with a toothpick
  • greek dark olives greek olive oil, served with a toothpick
5 stars from 1 rating of Grape Leaves (Dolmades)

American Style Greek Lasagna (Pastitsio)

Greek lasagna American style
Greek lasagna American style | Source

Lasagna (Pastitsio) Ingredients - OPA!

Traditional Greek Lasagna - described from wikipedia click here - Pastitsio

  • baked Greek lasagna noodles
  • 80% lean ground beef slowly simmered with herbs and spices
  • bechemel topping - a white sauce made with butter, flour and milk


Greek Lasagna American style (pictured above)

  • baked Italian ziti noodles
  • 85% lean ground beef slowly simmered with herbs and spices
  • Feta and Asiago cheese blended with the beef and sprinkled on top
  • hot sauce (cayenne, jalapeno or habanero)

Traditional Greek Sandwich (Beef and Lamb Gyro)

An authentic gyro sandwich
An authentic gyro sandwich | Source

Sandwich (Gyro) Ingredients - OPA!

Traditional Greek Gyro (pictured above and introduced in the US between 1965 and 1968). A local restaurant and a Philadelphia restaurant called Souvlaki has the best gyro sandwiches in the area.

  • grilled pita
  • Beef and Lamb rotisserie style combination meat
  • hot sauce (cayenne, jalapeno or habanero)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • red onions
  • tomatoes
  • tzatziki sauce - yogurt, cucumber and fresh garlic


Greek Gyro American style

  • grilled pita
  • Beef or Chicken sliced meat
  • Romaine lettuce
  • red onions
  • tomatoes
  • ranch dressing

Traditional Greek Spinach Pie (Spanakopita)

Greek Spinach Pie
Greek Spinach Pie | Source

Spinach Pie (Spanakopita) Ingredients - OPA!

Traditional Greek Spinach Pie - described from wikipedia click here - Spanakopita)

  • phyllo dough
  • feta cheese
  • fresh garlic
  • spinach


Greek Spinach Pie American style

  • baked Italian lasagna noodles
  • feta cheese
  • hot sauce (cayenne, jalapeno or habanero)
  • fresh garlic
  • spinach

Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruit or Peanut Butter

Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruit (side view)
Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruit (side view) | Source

American Style Greek Food - OPA!

The foods listed as "American style" in this article are our deviations from the traditional Greek equivalent. I have tried every American style version listed above and may even try some of the additional foods listed below (except anything with eggplant or zucchini in it).


Appetizers:

Deep fried vegetables which could include eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini

Soup:

Avgolemono - chicken, meat or vegetable broth with a heavy dose of eggs, lemon juice and rice. This is actually very good and a dish that my mom used to make four or five times a year.

Vegetarian Dish:

Yemista - basically this is a cut out green, red or yellow pepper baked with rice and herbs inside. My mom used to make this one or two times a year.

Meat Dish:

Baked Lamb with red potatoes - In our home growing up Lamb was reserved for special celebrations so this was a rare meal.

Dessert:

Baklava - who could mention Greek food and not discuss this sweet after meal delight. This phyllo dough pastry has nuts in it and is covered with honey. Make sure you have plenty of napkins as this one could get messy

Drinks:

  • Coffee - watch this stuff because it is thick and strong and served in small cups.
  • Beer - I have tried Aris and Mythos. They both were very good and like a lager.
  • Brandy - Metaxa is what you want if you want to try a Greek Brandy.
  • Ouzo - This 80 proof clear alcohol has a similar taste to Sambucca
  • Wine - The table wine is red and dry but very good


OPA!

Greek Food To Try

Which Greek Food have You Tried or Would Like to Try

See results

Traditional Greek Drinks (Beer and Spirits)

Greek beer Aris is a lager
Greek beer Aris is a lager | Source
Greek spirits Ouzo and Metaxa are a deadly pair
Greek spirits Ouzo and Metaxa are a deadly pair | Source

Greek Food Restaurants in Pennsylvania

place
location
rating
Souvlaki
South Street, Philadelphia
5 Gyros
OPA!
near Philadelphia
4.5 Gyros
Lady Greek
near Philadelphia
4 Gyros

© 2012 mts1098

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    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      As I read your warning about the thickness of the Greek coffee I remember a comedy where the city lawyer and his wife moves to the country to run a farm. She is a terrible cook and the coffee is to thick you can eat it with a spoon...lol

      I like the idea of Greek food. I have made a few dishes myself and love it. Thanks for sharing.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Hi Cardisa - The movie you mention Sounds like Funny Farm with Chevy Chase. There are only two places around Philadelphia where Greek food is excellent. The first place is South St Philly and the second is my home :) What Greek dishes have you made? ...cheers and thanks

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      The Greek food dishes each look excellent. I enjoyed this hub and learned some things about Greek food. Voted up and useful.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Pamela99 - Hi - I am glad you enjoyed this...the smell of the food alone will make you hungry...I only wish the picture were scratch and sniff...cheers and thank you

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Actually it wasn't a movie but a sitcom starring Eva Gabor. I have made Kourambedes, a dish similar to shepherd's pie and Greek meatballs. I made them all from a Greek cookbook...lol

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Cannot say that I remember that sitcom but I bet the meatballs were good...cheers and thanks

    • zzron profile image

      zzron 5 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Cool hub, I don't think I have never tried Greek food but now I am interested. Thanks for the info.

    • By His Way profile image

      By His Way 5 years ago from TEXAS: That's right - in all caps.

      Voted up. Awesome. Loaded with info and now Im hungry.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Hi zzron - we eat these foods, as you see here, through out the year and they will not disappoint...cheers and thanks

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Hey By His Way - thanks for stopping by and the vote...the funny thing is that I got hungry when I wrote this and had to stop for a snack...cheers and thanks

    • ElizaDoole profile image

      Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

      Hi Mts. Love greek food and this is a great hub with some easy to prepare stuff. Voted up and interesting.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Hi ElizaDoole - You will have to send some pictures if you decide to prepare any of these dishes :) cheers and thanks...

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Ooh the sandwich looks very tempting. I love sandwiches! Thanks for this.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! To read and vote and join the Hubnuggets, click here http://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hub/Hubnugget...

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Thank you ripplemaker...I sincerely appreciate the positive feedback and look forward to continuing my participation I hp...cheers and thanks

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Well congrats on the hubnugget nomination! I didn't realize that when I saw this hub on your profile page. It caught my eye because I LOVE Greek food! My husband and I honeymooned in Greece and we eat (and I attempt to make) Greek food often! We have an area in Detroit called Greektown and it used to be really fantastic. Now that a casino has moved in it is not quite as nice as it used to be but you can still find some great Greek restaurants there.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      cardelean - There was a great deal of Greek food growing up between my mom and a nearby Greek church. My wife, who is not Greek, has learned to cook many of my favorite dishes even better than my mom (shhh). Except for the Gyro sandwich the meals were all cooked by my wife...thanks and cheers...See you in the forums...

    • vinner profile image

      vinner 5 years ago from India

      Good article. Very useful thanks a lot for sharing.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Hi vinner - I appreciate the time and thanks for the input...cheers

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Great hub thank you for sharing...love the sandwich and really like spanakopita...delicious.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      carter06 - If I could send you a virtual piece of spinach pie (spanakopita), I would...It is light and full of flavor...thanks and cheers

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

      OPA!!!! I love the greek gyro, very tasty.

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Claudia Tello - OPA! to you and you are speaking my language...greek and gyro :) There is a great greek place nearby that makes an excellent gryo...thanks and OPA!

    • profile image

      Candice Harding 3 years ago

      Such an interesting hub. The pastitso looks so yummy! This is a great resource.

      Candice Harding

      http://www.ilgrecos.ca/

    • mts1098 profile image
      Author

      mts1098 3 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Thank you Candice Harding- I hope I can get to BC one day to eat you the pizzeria link that you left...OPA!

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