Eat’n Out! Welcome To Greece!

Published 5:13 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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I received my monthly mystery box of snacks and goodies today. This one is from the country of Greece. It is nestled right over between Italy and Turkey, and I am always surprised by the depth of the history, of nearly anything, in countries like Greece. Food is no exception. I mean they have been working at perfecting their art, architecture, literature, foods, and more for millennia. We have only been a country for a couple hundred years whereas the Greeks have been at it for more than 2500 years.

Their culture is so old they have touched the cultures and mythology of most other countries. For instance, when the Goddess Persephone was whisked away to the Underworld by Hades, she was warned not to eat any of the food there. But after so long she gave in and ate six pomegranate seeds. She was forced to spend on month in the Underworld for every seed she ate. Her mother’s sorrow at her departure is said to be the reason we have winter.

Some other things I bet you didn’t know about Greece. The first Vending machine as invented in Greece. It dispensed holy water for temple-goers. A coin deposited in the top would weigh down a bar long enough to let some water flow out. Some considered it a miracle.

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While no Greek takeout food is complete without some pita bread and hummus, those foods actually came from the Middle East. But the Feta Cheese on your gyro? That was developed in Greece. The Greeks have been eating it for nearly 8000 years.

From 2002 to 2011 it was illegal, in Greece, to play video games in public. Even an arcade or a quick game of Minesweeper could land you in jail. The law was intended to crack down on illegal gambling, but the wording was left so vague that citizens and tourists alike were getting arrested for something as simple as playing chess online. The European Court of Justice became involved and eventually got the law repealed.

The first ever Olympics were held in Olympia in 776 BCE. The first international event took place in Athens in 1896. To honor Greece’s contribution to the event, their teams always march first. There was one exception in 2004, when they entered last as the host country.

One last tidbit, it is illegal to wear high heels in Greece when visiting site like the Acropolis. It was made illegal in 2009 when they realized the monuments were being damaged.

Now for the goodies I received in my box.

– Oregano Potato Chips (oregano means “joy of the mountain”. Ancients believed oregano was created by Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty.)

– Almond Baklava (Baklava is definitely one of the two top things I would do visiting Greece. The other thing has to do with white sand beaches.)

– Dark Chocolate Orange Oat Cookie (Inspired by Greece’s golden apples from the garden of Hesperides. They are thought to have been oranges rather than apples at all.)

– Pomegranate Jelly Candy (Tart, sweet, and soft)

– Mastic Rose Toffees (This flavor is hard to describe. A tree resin is used to make them from the Mastic tree which is sort of like pine.

– Basil Pesto Breadstick Bites (In 326 BCE Alexander The Great found basil growing in his newly conquered territories. It soon became the hottest herb of the Greek Elite.)

– Cream-Filled Croissant (Breakfast is America’s “most important meal of the day”. Not in Greece. They don’t typically feel the need for a big meal in the morning except for some strong coffee maybe. This Croissant is an example of a mid-morning snack and is delicious.)

– Almond Kourabiedes Cookies (Powdered sugar-coated almond cookies.)

– Prickly Pear Loukoumi (candy inspired by cactus fruit. Also known as Turkish delight. The two countries were both once part of the Ottoman Empire and have lots of food in common.)

– Mediterranean Bruschetta Bites (Crunchy bites with tomato, olive, and oregano. This is very reminiscent of Italy but the Greeks have claimed crunchy bread treats with these flavors since at least 400 BCE.)

This treat box came with recipe for Greek Orzo salad, a “Mad Lib” Greek game, a Mythology of Food, Greek alphabet flash cards, and suggestions for where to go when in Greece. There are 3 things I would recommend other than the foods and beaches. You should see Blue Cave in Kasterllorizo, the Acropolis in Athens, and Mount Olympus in Thessaly. Maybe you can try some of these fantastic flavors on your next trip to Greece or maybe just to a Greek restaurant when Eat’n Out!