Traditionally, the main meal in Greece and Cyprus is still το μεσημεριανό γεύμα (toh messee-mairee-ano yev-ma), the midday meal. The evening meal, το βραδινό γεύμα (toh vradhee-no yev-ma), is often eaten relatively late. Greeks and Cypriots don’t usually have a sweet after their meal, but tavernas often offer their customers seasonal fruit and sometimes a local digestif like ρακί, (rak-ee), raki, από το μαγαζί (apo toh ma-ghah-zee), on the house.
When Greeks eat out, they usually start with a variety of appetizers or starters, which will be shared by everyone at the table. On the menu, these can be shown as ορεκτικά (orektika), appetizers, ποικιλία (pee-kee-leea), variety, or μεζέδες (meh-zeh-dhez), snacks or nibbles. Μεζέδες is also the name given to the nibbles traditionally served with ouzo in a καφενείο (kaffeh-neeo), coffee house.
These are completely different from the μεζέ (meh-zeh), meze, you find in Cyprus. Here you get a portion of the various dips, salads, vegetable, fish or meat dishes available at the taverna that day. There may be 30 courses to choose from, so you’ll need to make sure you’re hungry if you order it!
After the meal, many establishments offer the diners fruit or maybe a little χαλβά, halvah, a sweetmeat made with sesame seeds and honey. In Crete and other parts of Greece you may even receive a glass of ρακί (ra-kee) or τσίπουρο (tsee-pooro), an aniseed-flavoured liqueur. In Cyprus this is called Ζ ζιβανία (zee-va-nee-ya).