Greek History: 4 Things that Originated in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece was a civilisation that existed not only in Greece, but also in some other states that were connected by culture and language. It is generally accepted that the Ancient Greek period extended from around 1200 BCE, to the year 323 BCE. This period of time was characterised by a number of inventions and achievements, many of which can still be found in our everyday lives today. We are so passionate about Greek culture and history, so we have decided to share with you some of the things, from the Olympics to the iconic souvlaki, that originated in Ancient Greece. Read on to discover something new about the civilisation that had such an impact on our world today. Plus, if you’re feeling inspired and craving some authentic Greek food, keep reading to find out where you can get the best souvlaki in Melbourne.

The Olympic Games

Who doesn’t love the Olympics? They showcase not only the best in sporting ability but also in sportsmanship, with so many of the countries of the world coming together once every four years for one purpose. It might surprise you to know that the modern Olympic Games that we know and love, are hugely inspired by the Olympic Games held in Ancient Greece. Indeed, the first known games that we now recognise as the Olympics were held in 776 BC, a date which may not be exact, but is cited in many sources.

There are many elements that featured in ancient Olympic Games that have been carried through to the modern Olympics. For instance, in Ancient Greece, the games were held every four years, an interval known as an Olympiad. Indeed, the site of the original Olympic Games was Olympia, and they were held in honour of the Olympian gods. Further, sports like wrestling and sprinting featured in the original form of the Olympics, two events that are still staples in the games today.

Democracy

It is widely accepted that the concept that we know as democracy can be attributed to Ancient Greece. While there is evidence elsewhere of the use of a form of democratic government, it is generally believed that many of the fundamental tenets of democracy as we know it originated in Greece, around 508 BCE. It is believed that the first example of a democratic political system can be found in the reformation of the constitution in Athens, by Cleisthenes, who is often regarded as the father of Athenian democracy. This democracy was a direct democracy, which means that the laws and policies were not decided upon by elected individuals, but rather, by gathering a majority opinion from a group of assembled citizens. These citizens included ordinary people, though did exclude many different groups of people, including women, enslaved people, and young people below a certain age. While modern democracy as we know it in Australia has certainly evolved and developed for the better, the general principles of democracy originated in the civilisation we know as Ancient Greece.

Modern Philosophy

Ancient Greece was also known for its love of philosophy and philosophical thinking. Take Socrates, for instance, and you will find that his philosophical thought is still studied today, and is indeed, considered fundamental to modern philosophy. In fact, consider just the word philosophy, and you will find its origins buried deep within Ancient Greece. (Philosophy is derived from the Greek term phile, which means love, and also from the word sophia, which means wisdom). The Greek philosophers were interested in reason, as well as inquiry, neither of which originated in Greek philosophy but are said to still influence modern philosophy today.

Souvlaki

the best souvlaki Melbourne

Souvlaki: tender, marinated meat, cooked to perfection, laid in a bed of fresh and crisp vegetables, smothered in the perfect sauce, and wrapped in a pillowy soft pita. Hungry yet?

It’s true, the souvlaki that we all know and love actually has its origins in Ancient Greece. While, once again, exact dates can be patchy, it is acknowledged that there were ancient references to a meal resembling the souvlaki that we know today. The first mention of a meal akin to the souvlaki is widely attributed to a scene in Homer’s Iliad, the Greek epic poem.  While the souvlaki has no doubt changed and evolved a great deal over many a century, it is true that the origins of the dish we know today can be found in ancient times.

In the Mood for the Best Souvlaki in Melbourne?

If this article has you craving a delicious, authentic souvlaki, or some exceptional Greek food, look no further than It’s Greek. We’re here to serve you the best that Greek food has to offer and are proud to give you a taste of Greece right here in the heart of Melbourne.

So, when you need the best souvlaki in Melbourne, place your order online, or call us at 03 9548 5607, and we will take care of you!

6 More Traditional Greek Foods

Melbourne: the food, café, and restaurant capital of Australia. Us Melburnians love to eat an eclectic mixture of cuisines, and our unique food and café culture means that Melbourne is home to some of the highest quality food in the world.  It’s true that Melbourne has always had a special connection to Greece and Greek cuisine, and that’s why here at It’s Greek, we are so passionate about serving you the best Greek food in Melbourne. Make sure to take a look at the special relationship between Melbourne and Greek food in our guide to how Greek food has evolved. Keep reading to find out all about more of the most iconic and traditional Greek foods and delicacies. Then, learn where to go for the best Greek takeaway, and how to order online to end up with a delicious Greek feast!

Moussaka

Moussaka is a traditional Greek casserole typically made with eggplants, which are also known as aubergines in places like France.

The typical moussaka has layers somewhat similar to a lasagne, combining the sliced and roasted eggplant with a rich meat sauce, bechamel and a creamy potato topping.

This hearty casserole is one that can be made differently according to the recipe of each particular family. Recipes can be passed down from generation to generation, though the distinct flavours and the warming ingredients make it always recognisable as moussaka.

Octopus

Octopus is an authentic Greek dish that is served in restaurants and homes alike in Greece.

Greek octopus can be smoky in flavour and can be grilled with the simple flavours of lemon and olive oil, or calamari can be battered, fried, or stuffed with feta or tomato.

With so many fishing ports and seaside towns, there is always beautiful fresh octopus to be found in Greek tavernas, and the same can be said for Melbourne’s Greek restaurants, too.

Greek Food_Octopus Salad

Kolokythokeftedes

These gorgeous, bite-sized little fried balls are such a delight, and they feature some of the best traditional Greek flavours.

Packed to the brim with fresh and delicate zucchini, crumbled feta, and the bright zing of mint, kolokythokeftedes are rolled into balls or pressed into fritters.

They are then fried in high-quality olive oil, something there is an abundance of in Greece, and they can often be found on a traditional meze platter.

FAQ: What is a meze platter?

Answer: A meze platter is a selection of savoury appetisers which are served alongside a drink or aperitif, such as ouzo.

Melitzanosalata

This eggplant dip is deceptively simple in its flavour profile but is a real stand out on meze platters in Greece and Australia alike.

Melitzanosalata is a traditional recipe that uses eggplants that have been sufficiently baked in the oven to allow them to gain a smoky flavour. They are then either diced or mashed together with lemon juice, garlic, some parsley and plenty of salt and pepper to season.

Serve with some crusty bread and you have a delicious addition to your meze platter, or a tasty meal or snack all of its own.

Check out this melitzanosalata recipe, or leave all the cooking to us, and keep reading to find out where to get exceptional Greek take away!

Briam

Briam is a dish of mixed roasted vegetables packed with fresh flavours of vegetables like potato, zucchini, tomato, and eggplants.

The vegetables are thinly sliced or chopped, layered in a dish, and then topped with onion, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Don’t forget a generous drizzle of high-quality Greek olive oil for added flavour, and then your briam is ready to bake in the oven.

Once out of the oven, briam can be sprinkled with salty feta, or served with bread to mop up the delicious sauce created by the baking.

Taramasalata

Another typical addition to the Greek meze platter, taramasalata, (also known as taramosalata) is a creamy dip made of fish roe from a fish such as cod. This is then combined with high-quality olive oil, lemon juice, grated onion and a starchy base similar to homemade breadcrumbs.

Taramasalata is sometimes eaten at special times of the year, such as Shrove Monday, also known as ‘clean Monday’, in the days preceding Lent.

In the Mood for Terrific Greek Food in Melbourne?

Has all this talk of Greek food got you in the mood for some amazing Greek takeaway? Look no further than It’s Greek! We are proud to bring you the best that Greek cuisine has to offer. We use authentic recipes and flavours that will transport you straight to Greece, right here in the heart of Springvale. Whether you’re craving an exceptional souvlaki, a delicious dip for a meze platter, or a delectable mix grill plate, It’s Greek is here to help. We thrive on providing exceptional customer service, and on serving up the best Greek food in Melbourne!

For an amazing Greek feed, place your order online, or call us on 03 9548 5607, and we will happily take care of you!

4 Greek Christmas and New Year Traditions

With Christmas nearly upon us, it’s time to trim those trees, light those candles, and play the Christmas music that we all love so much. With so much to do and prepare, so many people to see and celebrate with, it’s important to remember the traditions that underpin the Christmas season. Here at It’s Greek, we’re all about celebrating the best of Greek food and culture, including serving incredible Greek take away every day. That’s why we’re sharing this list of traditions that often feature at a Greek Christmas. Keep reading to find out all about it, and where to go when you’re in the mood for an amazing Greek feed!

Decorated Boats (Karavaki)

Greece is a nation made up of islands, so it is no surprise that a standout tradition at Christmas time involves boats, or a small sea vessel known in Greek as the Karavaki. Dating back centuries, this Greek custom has seen people decorating not only Christmas trees, but also boats during the Christmas season. This is due to the fact that, especially in ancient times, many people were seafarers by way of the geography and landscape of Greece.

These decorated boats were a way to honour sailors and seafarers and to pray for their good luck and safe return to their homes. It’s a practice that can still be seen in public spaces in Greece today, with small boats, or Karavaki, sometimes taking pride of place in public spaces alongside Christmas trees.

Carols (Kalanda)

In Greek, carols are known as Kalanda, and these Christmas-themed songs and hymns are embraced by Greek culture as enthusiastically as any other. In Ancient times, it was customary for children in Greece to go carolling from home to home, and afterward would often be invited into homes for something to eat and drink, as a way for the household to say thank you.

This is a tradition that is still around today, and there are many different carols that are popular in varying regions of Greece, such as Trigona Kalanta (a song equivalent to Jingle Bells), and Kalanta Chistougenna (which translates simply to ‘Christmas Carol’ and is a huge crowd pleaser!)

Saint Basil’s Cake (Vasilopita)

Vasilopita, Greek New Year’s cake

Saint Basil’s cake, which is known in Greek as Vasilopita, is either a special cake or bread baked in honour of Saint Basil and served at New Year’s. This saint is an important figure in Greek tradition and is in some cases, regarded as Santa Claus – responsible for bringing presents for children on the first of January.

Vasilopita is thus traditionally served at midnight on New Year’s Eve, to celebrate Saint Basil, and to welcome in the new year. This delicious cake can be baked in a variety of ways, and many families have their own particular recipe that is used every year.  Replete with vanilla flavour as well as the sweet aroma of orange, after baking, Vasilopita is often topped with a deliciously sweet glaze or icing.

However, the most important addition to the Saint Basil’s cake is not edible at all – rather, it’s a coin which is inserted through the base after baking. When the Vasilopita is served, the person who receives the piece with the silver coin is said to be granted good luck for the new year ahead! Check out this Vasilopita recipe if you would like inspiration for your own Saint Basil’s cake.

Christmas Food

Like in many other cultures, it’s customary to serve traditional foods during Christmas and New Year, and there are many different types of Greek baked goods and foods that come out around this time of year. The smell of kourabiedes and Melomakarona baking signals the start of the Christmas season in many a household in Greece and Greek communities outside of Greece itself.

Christopsomo, which translates to ‘Christ’s bread’ in English, is a particular Christmas Eve tradition and is one that carries a lot of symbolism with it in terms of blessings for the new year. However, it’s not just the baked goods that take pride in place at Christmas! To find out more, check out our guide to Greek Christmas food!

Hungry for Greek Takeaway?

If all this talk of Yuletide traditions and the wafting smell of Christmas cooking has you craving delicious and authentic Greek food, then look no further than It’s Greek! We’re here serving incredible gyros and slinging the best souvlaki in Melbourne right in the heart of Springvale. From deliciously tender pork and lamb to succulent chicken, or a mix of all three, we have all your souvlaki or skewer needs covered. Vegetarian friends fear not! Try our delectable haloumi wrap and get the taste of Greece all the same.

For exceptionally tasty Greek food this Christmas season and into the New Year, place your order online, or call us at 03 9548 5607, and we will take care of you!

4 Greek Christmas Food Traditions

With the Christmas season nearly upon us, it’s time to start thinking about all those Christmas traditions that we hold dear, and which make this time of year special. Many of these traditions centre around the kinds of food that are eaten in the lead up to Christmas, and this is certainly no exception in Greek culture.  Here at It’s Greek, we love to celebrate exceptional Greek food every day by serving the best Greek takeaway, and that’s why we’re sharing this list of traditional Greek Christmas treats.

You’ll find these delicacies on Christmas tables on the big day, and in kitchens and pantries across the Christmas season in Greek households around the world, as well as in Greece itself. Keep reading to find out all about the delicious treats and foods that typically feature at a Greek Christmas celebration.

Melomakarona

These delicious cookies herald the beginning of the Christmas season not only in Greece but in Greek homes around the world, including in Australia. Melomakarona are sweet biscuits or cookies, flavoured with honey, as well as those traditional Christmas-time spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

These decadent cookies are made of a relatively simple recipe of flour, sugar, olive oil and orange juice, and after baking, they are covered in delicious honey, making them delightfully syrupy and sweet. Finished off with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts, melomakarona will be instantly recognisable as a Christmas time treat to anybody with a connection to Greek culture.

Recipes for melomakarona often produce dozens of cookies at a time, making them the perfect treat for those unexpected visitors during the Christmas season, or an ideal delicacy for gifting!

Greek biscuits baked and served at Christmas time

Kourabiedes

Another delicious biscuit, Kourabiedes are also a staple in Greek houses over the Christmas season. In Greece in particular, their arrival in bakeries across the country also signals the nearing of Christmas, just like melomakarona. These cookies are delightfully buttery and baking them can fill your home with the wafting aroma of toasted almonds and rose water.

Topped off with a dusting of layers of sweet, powdery icing sugar, and kourabiedes make the perfect Christmas treat! They are the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth cookie and are often served alongside melomakarona at gatherings across the Christmas season. Plus, like melomakarona, kourabiedes will often be features on a platter designed for gifting to friends, family and loved ones at Christmas time.

Pork

While some households favour turkey as the centrepiece of the Christmas dinner table in countries like America, and even sometimes in Australia, in Greece, it is far more common for this to be pork. It is true that pork has traditionally been highly regarded in Greece when it comes to Christmas, and so it’s no surprise that pork-centred dishes vary from region to region in these celebrations.

These variations can include roast pork, stuffed pork made from pork belly, melt in your mouth slow cooked pork, or a traditional pork stew, served with celery and herbs – often on Christmas eve. Regardless of its preparation, on the traditional Greek Christmas table, pork replaces turkey, ham, or shrimp as the main culinary attraction!

greek food-souvlaki pita bread tzatziki sauce

Christopsomo (Christ’s Bread)

Chistopsomo, also known as Christ’s Bread, is a treasured and sacred tradition in many Orthodox households. It is a dish that carries with it much symbolism, and a tradition that has many variations from family to family. The christopsomo is generally baked on Christmas Eve, or else the day before Christmas Eve, and is served on Christmas day. This special bread is baked as an offering to Christ, in the hopes for blessings for the new year.

Christopsomo is topped with a letter X – a decorative touch that actually refers to the first letter in the word Christ when written in Greek. With many variations of Christ’s Bread, some including dried fruit and others mixing in spices and herbs, it’s possible that this dish will be different from one house to another. Whichever way the christopsomo is prepared, the significance and symbolism of this very special bread remains, and you will be sure to find one at many tables during Christmas.

Check out our guide to Greek food delicacies if you’re interested in finding out more about delicious traditional Greek dishes, or read this Wikipedia page all about Greek cuisine to discover some unique facts.  

Are You in the Mood for Greek Takeaway?

If this article has given you an appetite for incredible Greek food, then look no further than It’s Greek! We serve the best Greek food takeaway, backed by a passion for quality cuisine, and the joy of bringing a taste of Greece to Melbourne. If it’s authentic and delectable Greek food you’re after, then we have the answer here at It’s Greek. Plus, if it’s the best souvlaki in Melbourne that’s on your mind – you guessed it – we’ve got that too!

For an authentic Greek feed, place your order online, or alternatively, call us at 03 9548 5607, and we will happily take care of your order!

Ancient Greece to Modern Melbourne: How Has Greek Cuisine Evolved?

Who doesn’t love Greek food? Here at It’s Greek, we are passionate about Greek cuisine, and are proud to serve you the best Greek food in Melbourne! But Greek cuisine has an interesting history; one that dates back to around 1200 BCE.

So, how did such authentic, quality Greek food end up in modern day Melbourne? Keep reading to find out how the cuisine we all know and love has evolved through ancient times, to the fresh and delicious food we serve you at It’s Greek.

Fresh Greek souvlaki, pita, and greek salad

Ancient Greece: The Mediterranean Triad

Ancient Greek cuisine is said to be characterised by a triad of ingredients: cereals, olives, and grapes – otherwise known as bread, olive oil and wine! A common social event was the symposium, which translates roughly to a banquet, and these banquets, though largely dedicated to drinking, also included food. What this shows is that, even in ancient times, food was for more than just eating; it was for sharing, and further, that often meals were a largely social affair.

Cereals: The first ingredient of the triad is cereals, which most often included wheat and barley. These were baked into bread and typically accompanied by an opson – a word that can be translated to relish in English. In this context, this relish was anything that was eaten alongside the bread – whether made of fruit or vegetables, or fish or meat.

Olive Oil: The olive oil that we take for granted today was a very valuable commodity in Ancient Greece. Olive trees are hardy plants that grow under a variety of different environmental conditions, and which have a history of growing well all over Greece.

Because of this, olive oil became a staple in cooking in ancient times, and it was often poured over food as a garnish before the start of a meal.

Wine: An important staple in Ancient Greece, wine’s uses were many and varied. As we know, wine played a large role in the feasts and celebrations of the wealthy, but it also had a large role to play in the economy of the time, with Ancient Greeks being responsible for cultivating new and innovative methods of making wine. For more information about the importance of wine at this time, check out this Wikipedia page about Ancient Greece and wine.

Greek Cuisine in Australia: The Beginnings

The history of Greek cuisine in Australia can be traced back to two little words: milk bar. The 1950s saw a boom in Greek-owned and run cafes all across Australia – from cities to regional towns. These milk bars were some of the most technologically advanced and stylish cafes in the country, and most often took their lead from the old Hollywood style of “soda shop” seen in America. This meant soda counters, jukeboxes, and a menu of burgers and shakes.

It was typical for the Greek owners and operators to serve up this style of food rather than Greek cuisine, as it seems at the time that Australians just weren’t interested in much outside an Americanised menu. Unfortunately, it was not until around the 1970s or 1980s that Aussies started to really embrace everything Greek cuisine has to offer, but it’s this history of milk bars all over the country that demonstrates just how integral Greek restauranteurs were to the culinary history of Australia.

Modern Melbourne and Greek Cuisine

Today, Greek cuisine is loved and embraced all over the country, especially in Melbourne! Australia has proven to be a great landing place for Greek food outside of Greece itself, with an abundance of fresh seafood available, as well as apt environments for olive trees to thrive.

In modern Melbourne, Greek food is all about ultra-fresh ingredients, tender and succulent meat, and of course, sharing amazing food with the ones we love. All of this fits well into the Aussie food culture, which we now know, was once spearheaded by incredible Greek restauranteurs.

In Melbourne alone, you can find an abundance of Greek restaurants, but when it comes to the very best Greek food in Melbourne, you don’t have to look any further than It’s Greek! We serve the most delicious and best souvlaki you’ll find anywhere in Melbourne, so make sure to check out our full guide to the origins of the souvlaki too.

Looking for the Best Greek Food in Melbourne?

Are you looking for the best Greek food? Look no further than It’s Greek! We are proud to bring you the best that Greek cuisine has to offer. From the best souvlaki in Melbourne to an authentic Greek feed, we thrive on providing excellent customer service, and bringing you exceptional Greek food takeaway! To get the best Greek food near you, place your order online or call us at 03 9548 5607, and we’ll take care of you!

The 5 Most Iconic Greek Food Delicacies

Who doesn’t love Greek food? Here at It’s Greek, our family loves coming together over a meal as much as any family, so we value sharing our passion for Greek cuisine by serving you the best Greek food in Melbourne. Food is a huge part of the heart and soul of Greek culture, which is why we are so passionate about serving up the finest Greek takeaway: so that you can enjoy an authentic taste of Greece in the comfort of your home.

Keep reading to discover our list of the 5 most iconic Greek delicacies, including the ones you can sample by ordering online!

Greek Food

Souvlaki

At It’s Greek, we believe that the souvlaki is the embodiment of Greek food – fresh, colourful ingredients, tender marinated meat, and bright, zesty flavours that dance on the tongue. What more could you ask for?

The souvlaki we all know and love is served in pita bread that is wrapped around flavourful and tender pork, chicken, or lamb, as well as fresh veggies like tomato and onion, accompanied by a sauce such as tzatziki. At It’s Greek, we offer a vegetarian option of haloumi to replace the meat, but the heart of the souvlaki we all know remains. Interested in knowing more about the souvlaki? Take a look at our article on the origin of souvlaki both in Greece and in Australia. Take a moment to learn more about the etymology of the word souvlaki to get a better understanding of what it actually means. 

More than just a wrap, the souvlaki represents the best of Greek cuisine, and when made with love like here at Its Greek, it is simply magic!

Spanakopita

Spanakopita is a delicious savoury dish with origins that are said to be traceable back to Ancient Greece. Consisting of a filling of steamed and drained spinach, plus sauteed onions, egg and, traditionally, feta cheese, these ingredients are then encased in flaky phyllo pastry and baked in the oven until crisp and golden brown.

Either served at room temperature, or hot straight from the oven, spanakopita is typically cut into triangles to enjoy as a snack, an appetiser, or even as a main meal. An alternative version of spanakopita can be made to be eaten during periods of religious fasting, which omits both the egg and the cheese.

Baklava

Baklava is a fan-favourite dessert and a true crowd pleaser. Like in spanakopita, layers of flaky phyllo dough are used to create a kind of baked pie. This sweet dessert is found throughout markets all over Greece, and of course, here at It’s Greek! Traditionally made with 33 layers of phyllo, baklava consists of a tasty filling of finely chopped nuts and raisins, sandwiched between the thin layers of pastry.

Finished with sweet honey syrup, baklava is the ultimate dessert and the perfect accompaniment to a piping hot cup of traditional Greek coffee. Don’t forget that you can also finish off your authentic Greek takeaway from It’s Greek with some delicious baklava too!

Dolmades

Dolmades are a traditional Greek appetiser and are best described as small parcels made from vine leaves wrapped around a filling. Typically, this filling consists of rice, onion, and spices, though it can also include minced meat, pine nuts and currants. Dolmades are hand rolled, placed carefully next to one another seam side down, and then cooked in a pan filled with oil and water until done. The younger cousin of dolmades is called “lahanodolmades”, and these consist of a filling rolled in cabbage leaves. Don’t forget to add some of our authentic dolmades onto your next It’s Greek order!

Rox

Also known by their full name, “roxakia”, rox is a sweet treat with origins in the Thessaloniki region of Greece. This cookie is formed from two layers of dough – an inner layer flavoured with cocoa and cinnamon, and an outer layer flavoured with vanilla. In addition to being baked until perfectly cooked, rox are then soaked in a deliciously sweet syrup, and served as a snack or dessert once the syrup is well absorbed.

Fancy a taste of these delicious biscuits at home? Add some rox to your order – they’re the perfect dessert to follow your main meal from It’s Greek. 

Looking for the best Greek food in Melbourne?

If you are craving some delicious Greek food, look no further than It’s Greek. We’re experts in Greek cuisine and are passionate about serving up the freshest, most delicious souvlakis in not just Springvale, but in all of Melbourne! If what you need is an authentic Greek feed, then It’s Greek has you covered there too. Our extensive menu includes plenty of your Greek favourites, from rox to dolmades and of course, our beloved souvlakis.

Make sure to explore the tastiest Greek food near you, and place your order online, or give us a call on 03 9548 5607 and we will happily take care of your order for you.

The Origins of the Souvlaki in Greek Restaurants, Melbourne

Souvlaki has become synonymous with Greek cuisine and Greek restaurants in Melbourne due to its immense popularity. The name originates from the medieval Greek word ‘Souvla’ which translates to ‘skewer.’ Small pieces of meat (and sometimes vegetables) are seasoned and marinated generously, and then placed onto a skewer for cooking. While originally pork was the most common meat of choice, chicken, beef, and lamb are common in many Greek restaurants in Melbourne. The best souvlaki in Melbourne is either served with the meat still hot on the skewer or served in a pita with other accompanying ingredients.

Gyros vs Souvlaki

While some regions of Greece interchange the term Souvlaki for any meat served in a pita, the distinction between gyros and souvlaki is the cooking and serving method. Gyros is meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie pole and continuously carved away as the outer edges are cooked through. It is always served in pita bread. Meanwhile, souvlaki cooks the meat on the skewer, by rotating it over a spit. However, this meal is also displayed on menus of Greek restaurants in Melbourne as ‘skewers.’

Souvlaki in Ancient Greece

There is evidence of Souvlaki and meat skewer dishes existing for as far back as Ancient Greece. Excavations have found portable stone holding trays with indentations for positioning skewers over an open flame, that date as far back as the 17th century BCE. These artefacts were found in Santorini, Greece. Meanwhile, meat being roasted over spits has been mentioned in ancient Greek literature. This includes the works of Aristotle, Xenophon, and Aristophanes. In the Iliad, Homer describes pieces of meat roasted over spits.

Modern Souvlaki

The history and origins of modern souvlaki, like many other dishes that have existed for a long time, are disputed. Whilst the dish was popular among the Greek population for centuries, the first modern interpretation of Greek Souvlaki at a restaurant is believed to be Aigyptaikon. This restaurant was opened in 1924 in Naika, Athens by Isaac Merraklidis. The restaurant still exists to this day. After WW2, Greek souvlakis became increasingly popular internationally as people migrated from Greece to other countries around the world, and the dish is now a stable takeaway meal globally.

As always, the exact origins of interpretations of dishes can be difficult to trace. Whilst Aigyptaikon may have been the first modern souvlaki style restaurant, different regions across Greece had different interpretations of souvlaki available. The Greek region of Livadia claims to be the original source of souvlaki takeaway shops that sold the meat served in pita bread. 

Australian Style Souvlaki

Whilst Australia had a substantial Greek population prior to WW2, a huge wave of immigration occurred in the 1950s. This was largely when Greek style souvlaki was popularised throughout the world. Australian style souvlaki has some differences from traditional Greek souvlaki. This is largely due to the choice of meat. Lamb was relatively cheap in Australia throughout the later half of the 20th century, meanwhile, it was expensive in Greece at the time of Souvlaki’s emerging popularity around the world. The pork was pushed for consumption as a meat of choice throughout the junta regime in Greece from 1967 to 1974, leading it to become used in Greek style souvlaki. Lamb remains popular souvlaki meat of choice in Australia today. However, the cost of meat has risen in price. The other addition to Australian style souvlaki which is not traditionally seen in Greece is lettuce. This is common to see in Greek restaurants in Melbourne. However, authentic Greek souvlaki contains tomatoes and onion, but lettuce is absent from gyros and souvlaki.

It’s Greek Souvlaki.

At It’s Greek, we want to provide our customers with the best souvlaki in Melbourne. Our skewers and gyros are authentic Greek in style. You can choose Pork, chicken or lamb for your meat filling, however, we do offer additions such as haloumi and biftekki. Our pitas come with your choice of filling, tomato, onion, tzatziki, sauce, and chips. So, if you are looking for authentic souvlaki takeaway or the best souvlaki in Melbourne, look no further than It’s Greek, Springvale.

If you would like some mouth-watering skewers or gyros from It’s Greek, you can place your order here or contact the store via our online enquiry form or phone number: 0395485607.
The It’s Greek Restaurant Melbourne location is Shop 1B/218-220 Springvale Rd, Springvale VIC 3171