Popularity of Greek Food

Mediterranean diet, specifically Greek cuisine, is an extremely popular ethnic diet for people to follow in modern society. Greek’s are extremely passionate about their food because of how much it ties into their culture and religious activities. There are multiple reasons for why the Mediterranean diet and specifically Greek cuisine are so popular. Health, variety, taste, and how delicious the food looks are all a few reasons as to why these diets are such a big hit in our culture today.

A Healthy Diet

The Mediterranean/Greek Diet and food pyramid was introduced in 1993 at a conference in Cambridge, Ma. This diet and the food pyramid are now referred to as the “gold standard diet,” meaning that it is a universally accepted healthy diet. This diet has resisted the “modernization” of diets, meaning that diets have become more heavily dependent on meats and processed foods whereas the Mediterranean diet and Greek diet still rely mostly on fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, legumes, seeds, spices and herbs. It is actually shown that eating a Mediterranean Diet decreased the chances a person has for developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases of that nature. Other studies have also shown that there is a decrease in the risk for developing neurological disorders, such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s. Because of modern day fads, these diets have become much more popular and have been receiving much more attention, accounting for an increase in the popularity of Greek food (Bertoia) 1.

The Mediterranean Diet food pyramid shows us that red meat is at the top of the pyramid, as the food that should be consumed the least. Next comes poultry, eggs, and dairy, such as yogurts and cheeses, which are to be consumed in moderation, meaning

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

Courtsey of (Bertoia)

weekly. Fish and other seafoods should be the meats consumed the most in this diet, it should be eaten at least twice a week. The foods that are most recommended are fruits, vegetables, grains, olive oil, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices, which are meant to be eaten daily. All meals should be based on these items. Herbs and spices are actually only a recent addition to the Mediterranean Diet. Wine should be drank in moderation and water should be had daily with every meal. Exercise is also a component of this food pyramid, making the Mediterranean Diet a well rounded lifestyle (Bertoia)1 (Mediterranean Cuisine) 2.

Greek diet is extremely similar to that of the Mediterranean Diet. It is extremely healthy and many people in Greece tend to live to an older age due to this healthy lifestyle. Red meats, such as lamb, goat, and sheep, are usually saved for special occasions, such as religious holidays. Fruits, vegetables, grains, olive oil, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs, spices, poultry, fish, and shellfish are all abundant in the coastal Greek diet. Since Greece is surrounded by the ocean, it is easier for the island and coastal regions to obtain fish and shellfish, making it more of a staple in the diet of the people living in these areas. In more inland regions, red meats become more of a necessity and staple, but the diet is still heavily vegetables, fruits, grains, olive oil, nuts, legumes, seeds, and spices and herbs. This shows that the Greek and Mediterranean Diets are not strictly followed by everyone living in these regions, although the people tend to follow the basis for these diets (Greece) 4 (Thelander) 5.

An Ethnic Background

Mediterranean diet pulls in from a variety of different locations, mixing together cultures and showing how the foods in these areas are similar or how meals can be derived from one culture and brought into another. Mediterranean cuisine is a mixture of Maghreb, Levantine, Ottoman, Italian, French, and Spanish cultures. Maghreb consists of the countries Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya, and the meals from here are colorful and flavorful, with multiple spice mixtures. Levantine consists of coastal middle eastern countries, and the most traditional meals are meze, which are a selection of small dishes. Ottoman consists of modern day Turkey, parts of the Balkans, Cyprus, and Greece, and popular dishes from this area include moussaka and borek. Italian cuisine consists of pasta dishes. French dishes are known for using local ingredients, such as vegetables and fruits and locally raised animals. Mediterranean cuisine also pulled in paella, which is one of the main dishes the Mediterranean diet brought in from Spain (Bertoia) 1 (Mediterranean Cuisine) 2.

Of course, people love eating delicious and colorful ethnic food, and Greek food is a main runner in those categories. Although people generally think of Greek food to be hummus, gyros, greek salads, and feta cheese, there is actually a whole variety of Greek food. There are different types of Mediterranean seafood, such as tuna, mullet, bass, halibut, swordfish, anchovies, sardines, shrimp, octopus, squid and mussels, and different meals composed of varying fruits, vegetables, nuts and other varying foods. There are many types of Greek fruits and vegetables, such as Tuscan kale, mustard greens, tart purslane, spinach, and black chard. Spices, such as basil, marjoravm, oregano, mint, cilantro, cumin, curry powder, thyme, rosemary and many more, are also grown on the island and are used in meals. There are also a wide variety of legumes and different grains which can be found in Greek food, such as chick peas, quinoa, basmati and brown rice, black beans, and couscous. All of these diverse food items help to lure people into trying these tasty delectables (Thelander) 5 (Greece) 4.

 Greek Delicacies

Moussaka (Lamb-Eggplant Casserole)

This is a dish dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Popular in Turkey, this dish is also a well known Greek meal. The Greek version of Moussaka has layers of meat and eggplant, topped with a white sauce, known as Bechamel, and it is normally baked. Different regions of Greece have come up with variations of this meal with different vegetables and sauces included in the meal, but all generally have layers of eggplant and beef (Kindermann) 6.

Arni Souvlaki (Lamb on Skewers)

Souvlaki are a popular Greek fast food, because they’re quick to make and easy for

 eating on the go. Souvlaki consists of small pieces of meat, usually pork (but lamb and chicken are also used), and sometimes vegetables, which are grilled. Souvlaki can be served with pita bread and sometimes fried potatoes. Souvlaki can be sold in carts
on the streets, which our class actually saw on our field trip to Astoria, as the souvlaki cart was our first stop (Greece) 4 (Bauer) 7.

Magiritsa (Easter Soup)


Courtesy of User. Mageirista.

Magiritsa, also known as Easter Soup, is a soup that is eaten on Greek Easter to break the 40 day fast. The soup is made up of lamb offal, which would be defined as any part of the lamb that is not skeletal muscle. This dish is a traditional Greek soup, flavored with many seasonings and sauces. The soup becomes extremely thick and filling after the stock is thickened with avgolemeno, which is Greek for egg-lemon sauce (Greece) 4 (User) 8.


Gigandes Plaki (Giant Baked Beans)

A vegetarian dish that normally becomes popular during fasts, such as the Great Lent, which occurs before Easter. Gigandes Plaki is large dried white runner beans baked in a tomato-based sauce. This dish can also be served with vegetables and sausages, depending on whether the chef is looking to make it vegetarian or not. This meal is usually served as a meze, meaning that it is served amongst multiple other small dishes (Greek Cuisine) 9 (Hevelsi) 10.


One of the most well known Greek dishes in American society, gyro’s are a popular type of Greek sandwich. Gyro’s have roots in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and the name originally comes from Turkish roots. The name gyro was made after there was criticism in Greece for having a Turkish name for their food. Gyro’s generally have a meat filling, with fries, tomatoes, onion, and tzatziki sauce, all wrapped up in a warm pita. Gyro’s can be found being sold by street vendors or in shops in Astoria because of how popular they are (Fajardo) 10 (Greek Cuisine) 9.




A Greek dessert with Peloponnese origins. Diples are long pieces of dough that are fried and dipped in either honey or sugar. Diples are served during many special occasions, such as Christmas and New Years, although in Peloponnese, they are a typical dessert (Greek Cuisine) 9.


 Author: Mateusz Wysocki