To enjoy classic and Modern Greek cuisine, you don’t necessarily have to travel to Greece. Thousands of Greeks have travelled across the world and made their homes elsewhere; many have settled in America and now embrace its lifestyle and traditions. However, they always carry with them a strong sense of their homeland’s pride and culture; integral to that culture are the mouth-watering aromas and ingredients of their unique cuisine.
The Greek Food Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas estimate that, during the three days of their celebration, food-seekers will consume over 10,000 sourota, 17,000 pieces of baklava, 57,000 melomacarona and thousands more assorted sweet pastries – not to mention the savoury dishes!
Dallas also holds a Greek Food Festival of its own; an annual event hosted by the Greek Orthodox Church. As well as the startling array of dishes available, spectators can listen to traditional Greek music or learn and participate in dances that are steeped in history. They will also have the chance to learn more about the country’s culture and history and enjoy cooking demonstrations held by local chefs.
The Astoria neighbourhood in New York is one of the most vibrant and eclectic in the city itself, with a strong, effervescent Greek community. Subtle and alluring smells infuse the side-streets, creating an exotic and sensual atmosphere. Here you can sample authentic shish kebabs, grilled fished with olive oil, lemon and garlic, chicken souvlaki and the traditional Greek salad, as well as much, much more. The region plays to host to some of New York’s finest and favourite Greek restaurants, including Espirides and Opa! In addition, you can practice your own skills after purchasing produce from the teeming open market or relax with a pungent Greek coffee.
Greek cuisine hasn’t just settled in the States; it has permeated into many cultures and has comfortably been absorbed into the host country’s landscape. Even as recently as 2001, Beijing opened its first Greek Restaurant, the Athena. The restaurant took two years to gain approval, but a word from the Greek ambassador to China managed to convince the Athena’s parent company to open a restaurant in the city. His astonishment that a major capital city was not hosting a restaurant that represented his homeland has been of great benefit to the city’s diners and the Athena now hosts regular clients, many of whom are Greek.
It may seem a little absurd to travel to a country other than Greece to sample Greek food, but the option is there to holiday abroad and experience the best of many different cultures in one sitting.