Greek salad is a popular and staple salad dish in Greek cuisine which can be dated back to the 19th century, due to the rising usage of the tomato, the key ingredient in Greek salad, in Greece at that time.
While Greek salad is not the most traditional of Greek dishes, it has become widely eaten by tourists and natives alike.
The famous salad is composed of pieces of tomato, sliced cucumber, feta cheese, onion, olives, typically seasoned with salt and oregano and dressed with olive oil. Other common ingredients include bell peppers, berries, or capers, which are especially popular in the Dodecanese Islands. The most notable component in creating a Greek salad, however, is that it contains no lettuce, unlike traditional Western salads. However, a Greek Greek salad may differ from Greek salads made in other countries. For example, “Greek salad” in America may contain lettuce with Greek-inspired ingredients, as listed above. A Greek salad made outside of Greek without lettuce may be referred to as horiatiki, peasant salad, village salad, or country salad. In Detroit, Greek salad often includes beets and in the Tampa Bay area, potato salad. Cypriot salad, from Cyprus, an island nearing Greece, contains ingredients similar to a traditional Greek salad, but consists of finely chopped tomatoes, flat-leaf parsley, and possibly a red wine vinegar.
Tomato seeds have a history in Europe, most easily seen in Italian history, notably present in present Italian cuisine. While tomato seeds brought back to Spain from South America by the Conquistadores during the exploration of the New World, they then spread to Italy, and Greece by 1818, while Greece was a part of the Ottoman Empire. The first tomatoes to grow in Greece were on the island of Syros, then Santorini and finally the first canning plant of tomatoes was opened in 1915 in Nauplion before tomatoes became a staple in Greek cuisine. Noticeably, the ingredients of a Greek salad resemble those that a Greek farmer would have on-hand. Because of this, it is often thought that Greek salad was a farmer’s breakfast or lunch, and grew in popularity from that origin.
Prevalence in Greece Today
Greeks typically eat salads with every meal when its ingredients are in season – typically between May and September. However, once the weather shifts, a Romaine lettuce salad is much more popular, as the ingredients in a Romaine lettuce salad are easier and cheaper to come by in winter months. Often served with a loaf of bread, the Greek salad is especially popular in the summer though because the ingredients are both inexpensive and healthy, often served family-style in a large plate to be shared.
Irene. “Greek Cuisine and the 19th Century Invasion of the Tomato.” EF Tours Travel Blog The
Equator. Equator, 16 Apr. 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 201
N/a. “Greek Salad.” Greek Landscapes. GreekLandscapes.com, n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2016.
Author: Jenny Zhang