What to eat in Greece?
Greece is a country where people live off their produce, where they cultivate a vegetable garden, an orchard, a plot of land planted with olive trees, where they trade honey for feta cheese, figs for citrus fruits, a thousand miles away from intensive agriculture. It is based on sharing, conviviality, and hospitality, typical values of the people of the Mediterranean basin. Greek cuisine is therefore generous, colorful, and full of juicy and tasty vegetables and aromatic herbs. Everything is often seasoned with excellent olive oil and a dash of lemon juice. Discover together everything this amazing country has to offer in a place. Beware, this article may make your mouth water!
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Fava Beans are known as Koukia in Greek. They are deliciously prepared "yahnista" or"yahni", which means they are stewed with tomatoes and onions and spices. Beans are very common in Greek cuisine, both fresh and dried. They are cooked according to the season and the way they are preserved. For a tasteful experience, you should try it with good crusty bread and feta cheese.
Tzatziki is a yogurt - made from cow's or sheep's milk, sold in an earthenware jar, dense, more or less drained, more or less fatty, a layer of whey covers it - nothing in common with commercial Greek yogurts. Eat it with cucumber, coarse salt, garlic, and olive oil. It refreshes any meal. The perfect side dish after a long day under the Greek sun.
The first thing that comes into your mind when thinking about Tarama is probably the flashy pink, insipid mixture sold at the head of the supermarket aisle. However, the real Tarama is white. Some make it with potatoes, others with breadcrumbs. The other ingredients are common to all: cod eggs, lemon juice, olive oil, and onions. It is a smooth and velvety cream. You can savor it with bread or cucumber, same for Tzatziki.
Souvlaki is skewers of pork or chicken meat. The meat is marinated overnight in lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano - that you bite into with tomatoes, tzatziki, and fries in pita bread. Yummy! A delight of simplicity, far from the reputation of the Greek sandwich. The word 'Souvlaki' comes from the medieval Greek word 'souvla' which means 'skewer'. In Athens, we speak of "Kalamaki".
When visiting Greece, it is impossible to miss it since it is probably one of the most famous dishes in the country. The Greek salad has several essential elements: cucumber, tomato, olive oil, oregano, and salt. Optional elements can be added: feta cheese, olives (from Kalamata), onions, peppers, capers, etc. The dish is also named horiatiki, or "village salad", as the salad is made up of sun-drenched foods found in every village.
Nothing to do with loukoums, except that their name comes from the same Arabic word, which means "bite". It is small round doughnuts with a crunchy envelope that shelters a melting heart, filled with honey syrup and sprinkled with sesame and cinnamon. Loukoumades are among the oldest pastries in the world: the writings of the poet Callimachus, three centuries before our era, already mention these sweets, offered to the winners of the Olympic Games. You can buy them on every street corner. Some of them change the traditional recipe and make it with white chocolate, bitter chocolate, caramel, praline...
Pastry made with filo pastry, filled with a vanilla cream prepared with fine semolina. The cream itself is composed of milk, butter, sugar, eggs, and fine semolina. It is baked in a large pie dish, then cut into small squares and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Traditionally, Greeks eat bougatsa for breakfast, but it can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Did you know? It is a very old recipe, which would be born in Asia Minor in Constantinople when the city still belonged to the Greeks, before its fall in 1453 when it passed to the Turks.
Baklava is a dessert originating from the Middle East. Many ethnic groups such as Greeks or Turks claim baklava as their own and prepare it in their way. It is a pastry rich in butter and sugar. It is made of many layers of crispy phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and drizzled with an aromatic syrup. Good baklava is crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. An absolute delight!
This sweet, strong alcoholic beverage is similar to a liqueur. It is made from the by-products of grapes after they’ve been used for wine-making (mainly the skins and stems). It’s then distilled into a high-proof alcoholic beverage that’s flavored primarily with anise, which gives it a distinct licorice taste. Other herbs and spices are added to enhance the flavor. As with wine, tasting various brands will teach you to distinguish the fine ones from those that qualify as “rotgut.”
Raki is not only a local product. It is the essence of an authentic tradition, the identity of a culture. This traditional Greek alcohol accompanies festive meals with family and friends. It expresses, especially in Crete, the values of hospitality, friendship, sharing, and celebration
Fun fact: When you knock your rakı glass on the table once, it is a sign that you toast for the honor of the presence of the lost/ or loved ones as well. It is a nice way to commemorate.
In Greece, coffee is very popular and consumed at any time of the day. It is very finely ground, and heated, with sugar, until it boils in a small copper jug with a long handle, the briki. The beverage is then poured into a small cup so that the frothy foam remains on the surface. When the grounds have fallen to the bottom of the cup, it is sipped with a melomakarona, a small traditional honey cake. Iced coffee is also a pleasure that will accompany all your trips to Greece.
This was our guide to local products to try during your stay in Greece, which includes both food and drinks. If you are a real foodie and willing to try new flavors, we invite you to discover our other articles on food around the world such as in Turkey, Portugal, and others. Follow us on Instagram @thewalkingparrot to be alerted when new articles are published!