It’s hard to imagine a Greek meal without noise. When families and friends sit down to eat, the decibel level goes up. Meals are social occasions, and foods are often shared by all at the table. Combine traditional Greek meal etiquette with the boisterous Greek temperament, and the result is a noisy, happy gathering.

To those unfamiliar with traditional Greek meals, the sights and sounds of people talking, clinking glasses, and reaching across the table from all different directions can be alarming, but it is this traditional Greek way of serving and eating food that turns everyday meals into celebrations of tastes and people.

At a traditional Greek meal, diners may take helpings of food onto their plates from serving dishes, but, more often than not, serving oneself means leaning over and around to take a fork- or spoonful directly from serving dish to mouth. A typical table will include everything from appetizers to one or two (or more) main dishes, sides, and beverages. Long reaches, clashing forks, and bumps and spills are all part of the process. It creates a babble of talk and laughter, and leaves no room for a quiet meal of “eating what’s on your plate.”

So if you’re looking for a way to encourage conversation and camaraderie at mealtime, go Greek! It’s hard to be silent when everyone at the table is headed for that last olive.