As last week’s post about the best foods to eat in Australia was so well-received, I thought I’d publish another post all about the Greek foods that are worth travelling for. Why Greece? Well, I always travel with food in mind and although I’m not looking to splash out on a long-haul holiday this year, I’ve been considering travelling to Italy because I thought that, while I’m there, I could even catch a ferry to Greece or see if I could find a cheap flight over there and that way, I get to cross two countries off my travel bucket list!
As a keen carnivore, Greek foods really appeal to me because they are often rich in meat and seafood, not to mention cheese and olive oil – another of my favourite things! However, I feel like there’s much more to this mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine that meets the eye, and so I decided to speak to some of my fellow travel bloggers to find out what foods they enjoy eating when they visit Greece.
Based on these conversations, and some of my own personal recommendations, I’ve put together a list of eight traditional Greek foods worth trying if you ever visit Greece. I will be expanding on this list after I’ve been to Greece for myself. Enjoy!
“One of my favorite Greek foods is Moussaka. It’s a traditional dish made with eggplant, potatoes, minced beef and a delicious milk-based sauce on top, called bechamel. You can find moussaka everywhere in Greece, as it is a very popular dish. Apart from my grandmother’s moussaka, I really enjoyed the one I had at the Meteora Taverna in Kalambaka. This family-run taverna makes many homemade traditional Greek dishes apart from its great moussaka.”
— Chrisoula Manika, Travel Passionate
2. Olive oil
“Olive oil is typical for Greece and on Crete, they take it seriously. It’s very common for families to have their own olive tree garden the product is a core ingredient in many dishes. But you don’t use olive oil just as an add-on. Nope, on Crete, you can go olive oil tasting and then you simply have some bread – or better, rusk – with olive oil. The rusk itself doesn’t taste like much, but that’s the point. It’s merely the vessel for the olive oil, of which you’ll be surprised how many different tastes there are.”
— Sofie Couwenbergh, Wonderful Wanderings
3. Fresh seafood
— Kate Parnell, Wanderlust Chronicles
— Nathan Aguilera, Foodie Flashpacker
If you are, like me, a turophile (a cheese fancier – LOL!) then you simply must try one of the best cheeses on this planet. I’m talking about Saganaki. Saganaki is a fried cheese dish that is prepared in a frying pan – not deep fried – and served hot, with a slice of lemon on the side. That’s it. Squeeze that lemon all over the cheese, cut off a slice, and go to cheesy heaven.
The unique thing about saganaki is that it’s often made from sheep or goats milk and even though it’s fried, it doesn’t melt. The cheese merely softens and heats through; each mouthful that follows is a salty blast of slightly chewy deliciousness. You can find Saganaki in pretty much every restaurant and taverna in Greece, as it’s a common appetizer.
The Greek word Saganaki actually means frying pan; and the aki stands for the size of the pan, which means small. This means that there a few Saganaki dishes available but if you ask for saganaki cheese, they will know exactly what you are talking about and promptly bring you this unforgettable dish. Enjoy!
— Megsy, Food Fun Travel
Souvlaki is my own contribution and although I haven’t been to Greece before, I have been lucky enough to taste authentic souvlaki at the popular Cardiff-based Greek restaurant, The Hellenic Eatery. Last year, I even got to watch Shawna Guinn of Hangfire Smokehouse and Lisandros Hajigeorgis of Meat and Greek make Cypriotic pork souvlaki at Cowbridge Food Festival.
To make the perfect souvlaki, marinate chunks of meat (pork, chicken and lamb work well) in lemon juice, olive oil, fresh oregano, salt and garlic for several hours or ideally overnight, then slide the chunks onto skewers and cook the kebabs over a charcoal grill. Eat it straight from the skewer, or served inside homemade pitta bread. It tastes great with some fresh salad, tzatzkiki and a sprinkling of paprika. Souvlaki is so easy to make, and it would be the ideal party dish for your summer barbecues!
Gyros is another personal contribution, but if we’re talking about the best traditional Greek foods, it wouldn’t be right to leave these out.
Gyros are similar to souvlaki, but whereas souvlaki consists of large chunks of meat, the meat used in gyros is slow-cooked on a vertical rotisserie and served in long, thin strips inside a warmed pitta bread. Pork, chicken and lamb are the most popular options, although beef is more common outside Greece. Gyros have also been likened to Turkish doner kebabs and Middle Eastern shawarmas.
Have you ever been to Greece? What are your favourite Greek foods? If you enjoyed this post, pin it below to read later!