Culinary Ambassadors: Breakfast in Greece
Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! (Find out more about CA or join here!) —The Mgmt.
Greeks tend to need a breakfast that will jumpstart their day. After partying hard on the beaches of Mykonos or in one of Athens' many dance clubs, some serious coffee is in order. Opening your bleary eyes after a long night out to see a briki, the typical Greek bronze coffee maker, bubbling away on the stove is a glorious sight. In summer you might have a frappé, the original frozen-coffee drink, though those are usually enjoyed later in the day, when it gets too hot to think. Along with their small but potent coffees, Greeks like to have a small biscuit, a koulouraki or, even better, a foinikaki, a Phoenician biscuit made from honey, orange juice, and flour.
For Greeks who haven't been hitting the beaches at dawn, a very traditional breakfast is yogurt and honey. There are lots of variations on this theme. You might have yogurt, honey, and walnuts, or yogurt with preserved fruit. My favorite is lemon peel preserves, though preserved rose-petals, a specialty from the Eastern islands, are very good too. Real Greek yogurt is thick, much thicker even than the Greek yogurt you may have seen on supermarket shelves in the U.S. The really good stuff is made from goats' milk, now cows'. Greeks are particular about their honey as well, and you'll find that many islands have their own specialties, depending on the local flora. For example, Crete and Hymettos both produce a thyme honey that is out of this world. It's sweet with a deep, earthy streak, and it's delicious drizzled over a cloud of fresh yogurt.
Breakfast simply isn't a big meal in Greece; it's really just something you eat to tide you over until lunch. However, if you are especially hungry, you'd probably have a spinach or cheese pie bought at your local Everest. Indeed, there still aren't boxes of breakfast cereals crowding the supermarket shelves. As a friend from Athens writes, "I don't think that Kellogg's is taking over Greece just yet. The lifestyle and climate are keeping things quite holiday-like." I, for one, am glad to hear it.
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To find out more about the Culinary Ambassadors initiative or sign up, see this SE Talk thread »