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What Living in Greece for 2 Years Taught Me About Food

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What Living in Greece for 2 Years Taught Me About Food | Reclaiming Yesterday

Back in 2010 I was a soon-to-be college graduate with exactly zero future plans in place.

I had one class to pass before I earned my degree, and it happened to be a month-long study abroad in Greece. 💙🇬🇷

It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I recommend studying/traveling abroad to anyone who has the chance!

But a funny little thing happened 5 days before I left for home. I met someone, fell in love, and found myself living in Greece for the next two years.

I learned a lot about myself over that time, but one of the biggest shifts that took place there was the way I experienced and thought about food.

Living in Greece taught me that:

1. Good food starts with simple, quality ingredients.  

I remember the first orange I ate in Greece like it was yesterday.

I never really was a huge fan of oranges, but I tried one anyway while I was over there.

That orange was life changing. Which I know sounds like a really dramatic thing to say about an 🍊

But it was like I’d been eating plastic oranges all my life and I’d suddenly been gifted with some magic orange straight from Zeus himself!

(If you ever find yourself in Greece, get yourself a fresh squeezed orange juice stat.) 

Trip to Crete | Reclaiming Yesterday

That experience happened again and again as I ate my way through Greece.

Cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, yogurt.

SIMPLE, mundane foods were blowing my mind.

I mean I’m a healthy girl and all, but even still it’s hard to believe a cucumber could really taste that good. But there’s something about the produce in Greece.

Some people say it’s so amazing because of the landscape, and most Greeks will tell you it’s because “the land is blessed.” 

Whatever it is, everything I ate was exploding with flavor and it really woke my senses up to the full potential of quality grown food.

Greek cuisine is simple and unassuming. It starts with the best, most vibrant ingredients, and that’s the key.

I’ve carried that back to my life in the States, and I try to start with really, really good ingredients to get the best end result. It’s always worth the extra $$ to me. 

2. Everything tastes better when you share it with friends and family

Usually at restaurants in America, we order and eat our own food. We might get an appetizer to share, but then we tend to stick with our own entrée. 

What I was really drawn to in Greece was the family-style eating that went down at restaurants and tavernas.

It became my absolute favorite entertainment to head to a rustic taverna with a group of friends and order practically the whole menu to share. 

Trip to Crete | Reclaiming Yesterday

Plates would quickly start filling up the table, and soon everyone was reaching in, grabbing to get a little bit of something delicious.

Tzatziki, grilled vegetables, fried zucchini blossoms, OUTRAGEOUSLY fresh salads, marinated fish, stuffed peppers…

You didn’t have to commit to just one entrée, which I loved. But even more noticeable was how the family-style eating kept people connected over the food – literally sharing it from beginning to end.

3. The more you cook, the better you get 

When I first moved to Greece, I was fresh out of college. That meant I was pretty reliant on microwavable meals and bowls of cereal. 

But what I saw was that the people around me were spending a lot of time and energy preparing food for themselves and for their families.

Making dinner wasn’t a chore, it was a fundamental part of life and a way to nourish the body and connect with loved ones.

I felt a little unsure at first, but I just jumped right in. I had my (now) mother-in-law teach me how to navigate the local farmer’s market, and I started experimenting in the kitchen.

Some of those experiments turned out great, and others were total disasters.

But what I learned was to enjoy the process, and little by little the end result started turning out better and better. 

What Living In Greece Taught Me About Food

My time in Greece really instilled in me a respect for good food and the power of a well-cooked (or well-attempted) meal.

Food feeds more than our bodies—it nourishes our soul. My two years in Greece made me realize that food is more than calories, and having a healthy relationship with food starts with learning to respect and appreciate good quality ingredients–and sharing them with people we love. 

In my mind, that’s the true secret of the Mediterranean diet.



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