Eating is a ritual…
It is not only the dishes you will taste, it is the process that will charm you first. Greeks do not buy into the idea of “eat and run”. They see food as a ritual and a good excuse to share – food, time, stories, ideas. It is no surprise that “mezedes” are the backbone of Greek eating out; a series of starters, small dishes that intend to increase your appetite, often accompanied by ouzo, tsipouro or raki (schnapps-like local drinks) and always shared.
There is no better treat than tasting grilled octopus by the sea. Add some tzatziki, fried zucchini and ouzo and you are set for the perfect “ouzaki” as Greeks affectionately call this type of food, usually served before the main meal. Repeat now with some fresh fish or fried calamari or grilled squid. Oh, the options for an “ouzaki” are innumerable!
Another staple of the Greek gastronomy is the Greek pie or “pita”. The Greek pita is a savoury dish that consists of layers of baked filo dough, crispy and delicious or more solid, a filling of various ingredients, then topped again with a layer of baked filo dough. From spanakopita (spinach pie) to tiropita (cheese pie) to kolokithopita (zucchini pie), there are dozens of variations to try.
And then there are the local gems, that you can only find on this particular island or village. For example, cheeses that often are PDO (protected designation of origin) products and are definitely worth your attention. Forget about feta and look for “graviera” from Naxos or “kopanisti” from Mykonos or “mizithra” from Crete. They are simply exquisite!
Local specialties are also worth exploring. You will never forgive yourself if you are on Sifnos and do not try its famous “revithada”, a chickpea soup boiled overnight in a special clay pot. Or the so tasty “fava”, a famous puréed split peas dish from Santorini. Originated from Crete, you will find it in many places – try a “dakos”; dry barley rusk, soaked in olive oil and topped with diced tomatoes, herbs, capers and soft mizithra cheese. A fresh delight as you come out of the sea for a quick bite!
Kali sas orexi! (Bon appetit in Greek…)