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Greek Food Guide – What To Eat In Greece
It’s a fact, Greek food is loved all over the world and well-remembered once your holiday is over.
Who doesn’t go back home after a trip to Greece feeling a little bit of nostalgia about that great homemade moussaka, that fantastic grilled octopus by the sea, or those delicious gyro wraps that taste like nowhere else in the world. Who doesn’t love Greek food?
Any meal time in Greece is a big event, that’s the magic of it and that’s why I believe it tastes like nowhere else.
Sitting at a table is a ritual that revolves pretty much around sharing and enjoying company, friends and family as well as one of the simplest pleasures in life, but one of the most fulfilling ones: food.
Moreover, enjoying Greek cuisine comes with a lesson, you will learn that the simplest ingredients are the best ones, you will learn that you need nothing more than freshness and simplicity to have a feast at the table.
Mediterranean vegetables, only seasonal ones, but also lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, the catch of the day, goat, lamb, chicken, grains and fantastic varieties of bread, creative pies and unique fresh salads are some of the several things that you’ll experience.
Good quality honey, thick, rich yogurt, and good local wine are among the staples of the Greek cuisine that you should try.
And if you still haven’t been to the country, and still have to experience what all the fuss about Greek food is about, then you’ve landed in the perfect place.
In this guide to the basic staples of Greek food we will guide you through the ten best and tastiest dishes you must try when you visit Greece, take a look:
Probably Greece’s best-known dish, moussaka is very similar to an Italian lasagna, only lacking the pasta which are replaced by layers of crispy fried aubergine and potatoes (in some places, the usually add layers of friend courgette too).
Between those layers, a fantastic tomato sauce made with meat and a good dose of cinnamon give moussaka a distinctive and unique taste.
The dish is topped with béchamel sauce, in traditional villages sill made from extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. The moussaka then is ready to go into the oven for the béchamel to get a very tempting golden brown color.
If you’re vegetarian, it’s also possible to find moussaka made without meat, equally delicious and appealing.
Another staple of the Greek cuisine, dolmades can be made with vine leaves, but also with cabbage leaves, specially on the mainland. Any version is full of flavor.
Dolmades can be filled with a mix or rice, lemon juice and tomato, but should always include a unique selection of fresh herbs, including mint, thyme, oregano, and dill.
Cooked with very little water and a lot of olive oil, after you’ve let them cool they are perfect as a meze, (the Greek word for appetizer).
In the mood for more appetizers? Fava is another great dish to have before starting your meal.
Contrary to its name, fava beans have nothing to do here. Fava is a yellow split pea puree with a topping of fresh onions, parsley, and (again) a good drizzle of olive oil.
Fava is fantastic when spread over a freshly baked slice of pita bread, but also together with an octopus salad, and a glass of ouzo.
Fava is one of Santorini’s most famous dishes, but it’s so much loved by the Greek, that you can enjoy it in every region of Greece, especially on the islands.
This fantastic bread rings covered with sesame seed can be seen almost in every corner of the capital, Athens, but are popular and consumed everywhere in Greece, especially in Thessaloniki, the city that claims to have given origin to the koulouri.
Koulouri has very ancient origins, it’s in fact popular since the Byzantine times. Today, though, it has become one of the country’s favorite foods to eat on the go, usually holding a cup of cold coffee in your other hand.
For those looking to experiment, they’ll be happy to know that a koulouri can be simple and plain, with sesame seeds, but it can also have olives, cheese, chocolate, honey, raisins…and whatever the baker’s imagination can think of!
Another Greek dish that has become famous all over the world is souvlaki.
Greek love their meat, and they love it even more when it comes in the form of a skewer. Souvlaki is grilled meat (it can be pork and chicken, although in some hidden places you can still be lucky enough to find lamb).
These skewers are usually served with plain yogurt or with tzatziki sauce (yogurt with cucumber, olive oil, and sometimes herbs too, such as mint or dill, and of course a good dose of garlic).
Pita bread, fried potatoes, salad, and even rice are a few of the side ingredients that can come with souvlaki. And if you’re lucky… you can even get them all!
Gyro is another equally famous and popular dish across the country, as beloved as souvlaki or even more!
When it comes to gyro, the meat (again also chicken, pork, beef or lamb) is not on skewers but cooked and the sliced and wrapped inside a pita that has been previously heated or kept warm.
Here of course, traditions and personal taste defines the gyro. Some Greeks would never dream of adding to their gyro other tan the traditional tomatoes, onions and yogurt.
For others, a gyro wrap is not complete without also putting lettuce and fried potatoes in it.
Other people would never eat a gyro without tzatziki sauce inside it… there’s gyro for every taste in Greece. Just choose the one you fancy or try them all!
Another amazing Greek dish, this time for those who prefer sweets over savory food are loukoumades.
A fantastic delicacy made with the well-known donut dough, these small balls of pastry are fried and served hot sprinkled with loads of honey, sometimes also cinnamon or even crushed almonds or nuts.
In some Greek resorts during summer, loukoumades can be served with whipped cream and even ice cream, that melts when it’s placed over the steaming hot sweet pastry.
Nothing more delicious than a dish of just-fried loukoumades. They can be the perfect afternoon treat, but also a fantastic dessert right by the beach!
Spanakopita And Other Pies
Greece is the home of the pie. It doesn’t matter the shape nor the filling, not even if they were baked or fried every region in Greece has its own variety of pie which you should definitely try.
Cheese pies, meat pies, sweet pies, made with phyllo pastry, or even made of kadaifi, incredibly thin threads of phyllo pastry that can wrap anything inside.
When it comes to pies in Greece, there’s always one to fit anyone’s taste. However, the queen of the Greek pies is definitely spanakopita. It usually comes with spinach and feta cheese, although it’s also common to find spanakopita featuring the traditional cheese in the region where you’re tasting it.
On Crete, for instance, it’s common for feta to be replaced with local myzithra, a fantastic goat and sheep cheese, ideal both for sweet and savory dishes for its delicate balance.
Middle east flavors have made their way in Greece during the several foreign occupations of the country and the islands, and they have now become part of the national cuisine, with many Greeks claiming to be nothing but local dishes.
The oriental style sweet, known as baklava is one of them.
Baklava is a little pastry extremely sweet drenched in syrup usually made from honey and covered with different nuts according to the region.
While the north of Greece and some of the island prefer crushed pistachios, Baklava are commonly sprinkled with walnuts or almonds in Athens and certain areas of central Greece.
One of the favorite dishes in Greece is this slow-cooked meat (usually lamb or even goat) wrapped inside a layer of baking paper and cooked for hours, if possible inside a wooden oven to produce a very tender dish.
This dish is typically very flavourful and heavily seasoned with onions, fresh oregano, thyme, and garlic. Inside the same pan, many people like to add potatoes or other vegetables that cook together and then are all served together.
The meat is usually marinated overnight before cooking which means that the meat will be easy to tear apart even without the need of a knife, and it will eventually melt in your mouth.
Kleftiko, although not as well known as other dishes in this list, is one of Greece’s most delicious things you should taste during your next trip to Greece!
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