Part III: Cuisine
Written by Alex Cooley
The food in Greece was delicious. From Gyros’ to Frappe’s we experienced all the native Greek foods. When choosing where to eat, we would often walk around an area looking at menus and pictures of the food until we all found one we thought looked good. The pricing strategy of the food in Greece is very interesting. Each restaurant had within a Euro of the same prices as the surrounding restaurants. This made it more difficult to pick restaurants, as the pricing frankly never had a large effect on the decision.
In Athens, we experienced restaurants right on a square to a rooftop restaurant in the streets of Plaka—an older part of Athens where the Acropolis is located. One food that we tried in Athens was Moussaka, a type of lasagna dish without noodles. Another very popular food that was at just about every restaurant was Souvlaki which was meet on a skewer. This dish is similar to Gyros, another traditional Greek dish, but is served without pita bread. One aspect that was interesting to the group was that Souvlaki was more common than Gyros at restaurants, even though it seems like in America Gyros are more popularly known as the most traditional Greek food. When ordering Gyros in Greece it was clear that America has created their own versions of them. The Gyros in Greece were not always serves with Tzatziki sauce, nor always wrapped in pita bread, how many American places serve them.
Crete had very similar food places compared to Athens. There were cafes on the town square and restaurants in the winding streets. In the square we tried the local crepes, which were good and inexpensive. In American restaurants the price for a crepe is often up to nine dollars, however even in the central square the price was only around three Euros. While life in Greece is inexpensive compared to America, it is obvious that the Greeks make less of a margin on their food sales compared to Americans. When wandering the back streets, more away from the city center, we found a couple restaurants that branched out with their menu. The menus had truffle infused risottos to fresh mozzarella on brick oven made pizzas. While some of these foods were not traditional Greek foods, they were still very inexpensive in comparison to what they could be marketed for in America.
There is a huge business market in the restaurant industry. It was extremely interesting to be able to compare the prices of the different types of foods and realize the different margins that businesses make on food. Another interesting aspect of the food market in Greece, is the olive oil market. The factory owner that produces olive oil told the group that to make one liter of olive oil costs around two Euros and seventy cents to make. In store, half a liter can be sold for up to thirty dollars in America. While there are tariffs and shipping costs, it is evident that the profit margin on olive oil is very large.