When I travel back to the fatherland each summer I notice that Greeks start work early. At Mezes, we open to the public at 11 am, so we’re usually prepping the restaurant about 10 am in the morning.
In Greece, during the summer months, starting early is a necessary blessing in order to miss the heat of the day. Subsequently, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day as we are so often reminded here in the United States.
On those days when I find myself up early (or still up from the night before) I notice that breakfast is usually a cup of coffee, (for most adults - accompanied with a cigarette!). It’s obvious they did not grow up with my mother drilling it into my head that it is bad to skip this meal!
Most of the time, Greeks will stop to buy something on the way to work, for a mid-morning break, or on the way back from the markets, such as a tiropita - cheese pie or a koulouri.
For the Greeks, the dinner - Mesimeriano - or the midday meal around 2pm is the main meal of the day. Shops and businesses will close and the owners and employees head home to eat. And like a Rockwell painting, the family comes sits down and spends some time together at the table. No rush, no phones, just several courses or plates of food eaten at a leisurely pace. Courses which include:
- Appetizers, like olives or hummus & bread,
- Salad, filled with the freshest of vegetables,
- Main Plate, fish mostly but lamb or a baked Moussaka fits the bill on some days,
- And let’s not forget the Red Wine to wash it all down.
To help digest and continue to escape the heat of the day, it’s Siesta time which normally last from 2-5pm. Siesta doesn’t mean sitting under a tree with a serape over your eyes. No, it simply means sitting there for 2 or 3 hours, enjoying the company and the food.
Eating is never rushed in Greece!