Nestled elegantly beside the Mediterranean Sea, Greece is the home of some of the most sumptuous foods in the region. There is far more to Greek gastronomy than just Greek yogurt and Feta cheese!
I always like to eat when I travel, and it’s good to tick off some of the famous foods from Greece when I get the chance. Some of these delightful bites I have eaten in other countries (i.e. in a Greek restaurant somewhere), but the chance to sample the real thing is pretty tempting! After a week-long trip to Athens and Santorini, here is what I found on the menu!
Vegetarians will love it in Greece, as there are plenty of salads available, such as the classic Greek Salad (many more varieties are available). These salads are typically made with slices of tomato and cucumber, but pieces of Feta cheese and olives are thrown in as well – just to remind you that you’re in Greece! The delightful Spanakopita is a fresh spinach pastry, that reminds me of the spinach fatayer found in Arabic cuisine. While not exactly suitable for veggies, Moussaka is potentially the national dish of Greece, and it is made with sautéed aubergine and tomato, with a little mince meat chucked in for good measure.
I always used to think Souvlaki was the Greek version of a doner kebab or a shawarma, but the term “souvlaki” actually refers to the meat itself, and it can be prepared in a pita bread wrap or on skewers, like pinchitos from Spain. I think I preferred the skewered version of souvlaki, as I have had enough wraps to last me a lifetime and they’re getting a little boring now! Everybody must have heard of Kalamata olives, and these are another trademark of Greek cuisine. They have a very hard texture and are usually preserved in vinegar before serving. In southern Greece, I learned that these olives make great bar snacks as you settle down to watch the sunset! An interesting dish I discovered in Athens was Fasolada, which is a soup of dry beans and other vegetables which is mixed with olive oil (another Greek product!). I wouldn’t say fasolada was my favourite Greek dish, but it’s very light in the stomach which helps when you’re being active when travelling.
One final thought: Greeks eat A LOT OF OCTOPUS! Wherever you go in the country, you can be sure of seeing freshly-caught octopus being hung out to dry before being used for cooking. This technique reminds me of the way Mumbaikars hang out the Bombil Duck (which is a fish) before cooking it in India. Cooked octopus has far too rubbery a texture for me, so I don’t like to eat it – but it seems that I was the only one in Greece who turned it down!