If I had to choose only one cuisine I could ever eat again, it would be without a doubt, GREEK FOOD!!! In addition to loving Greek food, I also love the Greek culture, which I’m guessing is mainly due to the fact that I am half Greek.
MY BACKGROUND TO EATING GREEK FOOD
Growing up in a (small) Greek family, I was quite familiar with a lot of the Greek dishes, however was never really able to enjoy eating them with my family because… I don’t eat cheese (yes that includes all cheese – feta, cream cheese, or even anything which tastes like cheese). I know what you must all be thinking – how can I even be Greek if I don’t eat cheese?! Well I have news for you! There are actually a number of Greek dishes which do not include cheese, and many of the traditional meals are plant based; fakes, fasolia and yemista to name a few. However, as you can imagine, the Greek cuisine also has some amazing dishes which do include feta cheese and thus I really felt like I was missing out when my yiayia (grandma) would make these dishes for the family. Two of the main dishes she used to make regularly were tiropita and spanakopita. I would always hear my family talk about how delicious the food was which use to make me feel so sad because I really felt like I was missing out, even though I knew I didn’t like both the meals. I almost felt like I should just eat it in order to join in with everyone instead of feeling left out all the time when it came to eating food with cheese. I really feel this is also an example of how influential culture is, whether it be Greek culture or another culture, as it makes you want to do what the others are doing to feel that sense of belonging and closeness as a family unit.
Anyway, although I struggled a little as a child when it came to explaining to my yiayia and mum that I didn’t want some of the food due to the “cheese” issue (trust me it was a hard task as I was always asked to eat the food despite telling them every time that I don’t want it), now that I am older it is a different story. I am now able to make my own food according to how I like it and still feel like I am part of my Greek family. In addition to this, about a year ago I discovered one of my local Greek cafes (Olive Oil & Butter) actually cater to vegans which means… no cheese in the meal!!!! I can’t even tell you what it was like to try a spanakopita for the first time and actually enjoy it -it’s something I will remember forever.
On another note, although I am not technically vegan, I do find myself always ordering vegan options as I know that I will not have to ask for any modifications to the menu which makes my life 100 times easier!
If anyone is either vegan or in the same situation as me and prefers to eat dairy free (or hates cheese!!), I would highly recommend you try out this amazing cafe as all their food is absolutely delicious!! Whenever I feel like going out for a meal, whether it be breakfast or lunch, Olive Oil & Butter is pretty much always the number one place on my list!! Go and check them out if you live in Melbourne – I promise you it’s worth a visit.