While 80% of Greece is mountainous, you associate Greece with the sea, and Greeks have a very strong sea culture. Let’s not forget that Greece has a coastline of over 13000 km making it the country with second largest coastline in Europe. Fish have always had a special position in Greece. In antiquity it was a major part of the local diet and the main source of protein. In modern Greece they are equally special. The photos above are significant because they show how common and important fish was in the daily life in Greece. The illustrations are from a Greek school book first published in 1955, it was used in Greek schools until 1978. Every time I see these photos, especially the one with the mother holding fresh fish and the daughter bringing the olive oil and the pan to fry them, I remember the smell of frying fish taking over the whole neighborhood and how it tasted so good.
Fish consumption in the traditional Mediterranean diet was mainly limited to small fish like sardines and anchovies sometime fresh, but many times salted or marinated. Those who lived near the coast had easier access to fresh fish while those who lived in mountainous areas bought their fish from the fishmonger who would come once or twice a week in summer, less often in the winter.
Apart from eating fish at home, going out for fish is a special occasion. Taking someone out for fish in Greece is the equivalent of taking out someone for a filet mignon if you were to eat meat. It is the ultimate honor for your guest. When I say fish, in this case it is usually supposed to be some huge extravagant fish grilled and accompanied by one of my favorite sauces latholemono (olive oil and lemon-see recipe below) and simple steamed vegetables or boiled horta (wild greens). Since the fish is the centerpiece, there is no need for rich appetizers or complex side dishes.
text & photos source: http://www.olivetomato.com