YOU CAN’T LEAVE ATHENS WITHOUT TRYING…
Horiatiki, or, as it is known in the rest of the world, Greek salad. The rustic salad is made with tomatoes, onions, cucumber, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese; oregano and olive oil are commonly added. As many Greeks will tell you, the national cuisine is all about good ingredients; what you see is what you get. But one ingredient that should not be in your Horiatiki is lettuce; that’s a big no-no, if not outright heresy.
HOW TO EAT IT AND PAY
Many restaurants in Athens have this dish on their menu. But why not shop for fresh ingredients from the central market and make your own? This would be a good excuse to wander Varvakios Agora (Athens Central Market, open Monday–Saturday, 8am–6pm) and shop from vendors selling a rich variety of goods, such as meats, vegetables, and spices.
Horiatiki can be enjoyed as an appetizer or a main course, with some bread or barley rusks. If you want to do it like a local, share everything on the table. Dishes come to the table in no distinct order, so don’t be surprised if your main comes out before your starter.
Tipping is optional, but polite; leave around 10 percent for good service. Many people will round up their bill, for example, if it’s €18, they leave €20, etc.
Do order fried potatoes, and eat them with your hands. In fact, if you ask for a knife and fork for eating that kind of stuff, people might laugh at you.
Don’t use a knife. Instead, use your bread to push things around your plate. Then, soak that piece of bread in the sauce or dressing. (Suffice to say, this etiquette doesn’t extend to fine dining restaurants.)
Don’t just ignore bread that falls on the floor. Bread is considered holy in Greece. If you accidentally drop it on the floor, do the following ritual: Pick it up immediately, blow it, and kiss it. Religious people also make a cross as part of this ritual. Then put the piece of bread away, not on the floor again.
Do learn how to cook lahanodolmades me avgolemono (stuffed cabbage leaves with eggs and lemon sauce). This is a perfect example of a comforting dish with simple and quality ingredients. It’s even better if you have a mother of a friend to make it for you when you visit.