The Mediterranean climate allow several crops to be cultivated, this being one of the reasons why the Greeks are so partial to their fresh ingredients. Dishes are usually aromatic thanks to the wild herbs they use. The most typical herbs are rosemary, dill, cumin, curry, basil, parsley, mint and nutmeg.
The most characteristic and oldest ingredient is olive oil, which you will find in almost every single dish. Olives are also used in abundance (the most famous being black olives from the town of Kalamata), as are tomatoes, capsicum, aubergine, courgette, onion, potatoes, green beans, and okra (edible hibiscus). A combination of meat and ingredients used in other countries only for sweet dishes such as cinnamon or raisins is common.
Mezedes is typical for Greek dining, a number of small appetizers served with wine. They usually comprise various cheeses, loukaniko herb salami, fried chunks of octopus and squid, vegetable salads, or pitta bread with tzatziki or other dips. Desserts are very sweet and made with a thinly layered filo pastry, nuts and honey.
Dietary composition differs by region. Game is popular in the mountainous and wooded northern part of the country, especially boar. Seafood is typically consumed on the coast. Typical types of fish on offer are the common sole (a type of flatfish), mackerel and silverside.
The Ionian islands, which were ruled by the Italians for a long time, differ to the rest of Greece in their liking for pasta. Crete excels with its many local specialities (paximadi wholemeal bread and dakos salad prepared as an accompaniment) as does Cypress (halloumi herb cheese or lountza, pork tenderloin marinated in wine and smoked).
Have some great drinks, wine, or the typical, alcoholic, aniseed-flavoured drink ouzo, which was created in Asia Minor from Turkish raki and became the Greek national drink. Another is the well-known Metaxa, which is a unique combination of brandy and liqueur. Greek coffee is served at the end of every meal—this is the "Turkish coffee" we know well.