Every time I travel, I make a list of things to do, places to see, and - of course - food to eat! I recently returned from Greece and got to cross off the majority of my Food List while being pleasantly surprised with some sudden additions. If you're traveling to Greece - or going to hit up your nearest Greekfest soon - here are the foods that I highly recommend. Some you may have heard of, while others may surprise you. As a self-declared foodie, Greece did not disappoint!
This sounds super fancy, but it's basically marinated meat on a stick, and you can eat it directly off the skewer. This is one of the most popular foods in Greece and is often donned with pork. However, you can also find chicken, beef, and lamb souvlaki, so no matter what, you'll find a protein that will suit your tastebuds!
Before embarking on my seventh day of the Classical Greece Tour, I knew that there were already things I was looking forward to:
- The Acropolis
- Food Tour of Athens
- Visiting the home of the Olympics (Olympia)
- Greek Cooking Lesson
What did I learn to make during my cooking lesson? To start off with, I learned how to make homemade tzatziki, followed by spanakopita.
This was huge for me because every Greekfest I attend, you can count on seeing a mountain of spanakopita in my palm while I stuff my face. So, learning how to make these would be a huge win in my book as there is nothing like a warm stuffed spinach pastry right out of the oven and then dipped in a cool batch of tzatziki.
If you don't know what spanakopita is, no problem! In a nutshell, they are small pastries in a triangle shape stuffed with a spinach filling. However, the same technique to make the triangle pies is the same way to make tyropita or your own filled flavor-stuffed pies.
Whenever I heard the word "ouzo," I thought of the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Ian's parents meet his future in-laws. Unfortunately, they toss back glass after glass,...after glass of ouzo. Knowing what I know now...
I pity them.
I've had a variety of adult beverages in my day, including Hand Grenades and Hurricanes on Bourbon Street, moonshine, and Limoncello. I've even had Brennivín (aka “Black Death” alcohol) while in Iceland. However, ouzo is in its own category.
Lamb is one of my favorite proteins to have. I recall the moment I fell in love with this meat, and it was in Iceland's Blue Lagoon when I ordered it for the first time. Ever since then, I've been hooked.
I've had it skewered, a rack, shanks, and fillets in Italy, Iceland, Ireland, the USA, and now Greece. Which country makes the best lamb? That's tough to call, but I can assure you that it's tough to find a poorly cut portion of lamb while in Greece.
I can make a meal out of Dolmas and have zero regrets! These wrapped and stuffed grape leaves are usually filled with rice, mint, and ground meat.
In the USA, it's tough to find these made fresh unless you are visiting a Greekfest or Mediterranian restaurant.
I've tried my hand at them but with little success. However, I think I can make all the fresh dolmas I want with more practice! In the meantime, I settle for the canned ones at my local international food market, but it does not compare to what I had in Greece.
Before going to Greece, I had never believed I would try cuttlefish. However, when the menu crossed my plate and the waiter said, "Cuttlefish is today's specialty," I couldn't help but try it. Greece is known for great seafood, so my inside voice responded, "What the hell."
It did not disappoint.
I was the only one in my tour group to have the cuttlefish, and I was frequently asked, "What does it taste like?"
Honestly, it's difficult to describe. I am not sure how cuttlefish is usually prepared, but this particular dish (captured above) was tender, had a "meaty" texture, and was not something that smelt "fishy." With the sauteed spinach mixed in, it made for an excellent combination.
I hardly ever see octopus on the menu in the USA, so I chose to have this at least once in Greece. In fact, I had it twice! The first time was an "Octopus Salad," and reminded me a bit of a calamari sans breading. The second time, the main focus was on the tentacles that had a "crispy" texture and were boiled in tomato sauce.
Giant Beans (Gigantes Plaki)
If you scroll back up to my picture of cuttlefish, you'll see a hearty side of Giant Beans. Although these can easily be served as a side dish, there were many occasions when I had a huge bowl of them. In fact, I made sure to visit the local Greek market to buy a few pounds of them to bring home to make. Each time I make a batch, I get flashbacks to my good times in Greece.
Moussaka & Pastitsio
Although these are two completely different dishes, I grouped them together because they have one commonality: Béchamel.
Beshmal is a silky cream sauce made primarily with milk and flour. For moussaka and pastitsio, it's the top layer. Moussaka is usually a meaty combination, while pastitsio is a pasta base.
No matter which choice you're given, it's tough to go wrong, and would suggest ordering both!
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
I can't believe I am adding Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice to this list, but I AM! Greece grows almost everything, including some of the best citrus you'll ever have.
✓ ✓ Oranges
In 2018, Greece topped the charts as the 17th largest producer of oranges globally and consistently appears in the Top 20.
Four major orange varieties are harvested in Greece, including Chiou, Artas, and Soltani of Fodele. I am unsure what kind I had while visiting Greece, but I'll never forget when I had the best 8-10 ounces of it: Mycenae.
On this day, half of my tour group was sick with the "Gods Know What," but I was going strong and thanked Zeus for an awesome immune system. I visited a food truck directly outside the Ruins of Mycenae to keep myself as healthy as possible. There, the owner had crates full of local oranges and offered to process them through the squeezer for a healthy refreshment.
With a few Euros, I downed the best Vitamin C I ever had and was ready to tour more of Greece!
I believe this goes on everything now: Pizza crusts, sandwiches, you name it. Tzatziki belongs there.
As an American, I'm used to buying tzatziki prepackaged, but no longer! Not only is this easy to make, but the difference in taste is night and day. If I thought Italy made me a Food Snob, Greece enhanced it.
Don't Forget These
In addition to this list, some items are no-brainers to add, including feta cheese, olive oil, gyros, and olives.
Do you have some Greek foods you recommend trying? If so, tell us in the comments!
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About the Creator
Blogger | Creative Writer | Traveler | Full-Time RVer
You can find all of my articles on my blog as well on Medium where I'm most active in Humor, Lifestyle, and Travel. I've self-published one fantasy fiction with the sequel in the works.
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