When in Greece act like the gods and indulge. Greek food is fresh, delicious and cheap. Along with plenty of Ouzo and moussaka, make sure you try every delicacy on this list.
On our second night in Santorini we picked up a selection of food from a little grocery store in Imerovigli. We filled our plates with plump olives, tinned dolmades, slices of haloumi, warm tomatoes, and fresh bread loaded with tzatziki. It was probably my favourite meal of our entire trip, despite its simplicity. You can certainly load up on the heavy stuff in Greece (moussaka, lemon potatoes, lamb kleftiko) but these little dishes are just as incredible.
Every time we ate Saganaki in Greece, we passionately swore that it was our last time. And then the next day we would go out for lunch or dinner, rinse and repeat. And if we weren’t gorging on the deep fried saganaki, we were squeezing lemon juice over oily haloumi or crumbling salty feta on our Greek salad. Cheese is so popular in Greece, that they’ve even found a way to incorporate it into breakfast!
For those who would prefer something savoury instead of sweet to start their day, every little bakery in Greece sells flaky pastry pies stuffed with feta cheese.
And while you’re at the bakery stocking up on cheese pastries for breakfast, be sure to pick up one of everything else. Baklava is, of course, the most famous of Greek treats. After biting into the layers of honeyed pastry and chopped nuts, it’s easy to see why.
We chose to eat this delicacy every single day, but I’d also recommend asking for bougatsa (pastry with custard), kourabiedes (almond cookies in icing sugar) and loukoumades (the Greek answer to donut holes). There, I’ve just taught you all the Greek you need to know!
Octopus marinated in olive oil and herbs, tender fish flaking off the bone, and calamari crackling with charcoal from the coals they were roasted over. Greece is a seafood lover’s paradise. We were especially spoilt for choice when we were staying close to the fishing village of Gythio. Every afternoon we’d watch the men on the boats pulling fresh fish from their nets after a morning on the water.
We tended to leave the cooking to the experts, but you can pick up fresh seafood directly from the boats if you’re up for giving it a go yourself. If you’re worried about the freshness of the fish, just ask if it’s apo see-mera (from today).
SOUVLAKI AND GYROS
If ever there was a budget saver, this is it. Souvlaki are grilled pieces of meat served on a skewer. A gyro is greasy, spit-roasted meat folded into grilled pita bread loaded with tangy tzatziki and fresh vegetables. My favourite souvlaki was bought from the farmers market in the Maniot town of Areopoli. It was heavily marinated in lemon, salt and herbs and we ate it standing right there on the side of the road, juices running down our fingers.
Greek ice cream took me completely by surprise. Of course, considering their proximity Italy, it makes sense that they would be top producers of the stuff. Along with some of the more traditional flavours, we also enjoyed trying their more exotic olive oil, kataifi, baklava and even Maphrodaphne (made from a very sweet wine). Anyone who makes ice cream out of sweet wine gets my tick of approval!
Cue frappe drinking montage. Frappes are usually made with instant coffee, ice and evaporated milk. Cheaper than drinking regular coffee and a hundred times nicer, we made it our mission to try a frappe at any and every café or taverna we passed.
One of my first memories of Greece is when I was five years old and sat sipping on my mum’s frappe, dangling my feet over the edge of the Mediterranean. Since then, these yummy drinks will always hold a special place in my
FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Everywhere we went in Greece there seemed to be an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Even in Athens, orange trees loaded with fruit lined the streets. We could always find a local farmers market or a little roadside fruit stand. Lunch was often fresh grapes we picked up or tomatoes warm from the sun.
The Greeks are a friendly bunch and although we usually couldn’t understand a word they said, they would still hold out slices of watermelon for us try, or a lemon to smell, or a handful of nuts to nibble on.
Wait, what? Okay it’s not quite a food group but it’s going in here. Greek wine is bloody cheap and bloody good. Also, you’re not limited to bottle stores or wineries when it comes to buying the stuff. They sell it in the grocery stores. They sell it bakeries. They even sell it on the side of the road.
I’d be careful of roadside wine though, as we discovered one evening in Santorini after consuming some at our hotel and then enjoying a particularly wobbly and memorable walk into Fira for ice-cream.
Again, not a food group but it also deserves a spot on the list. After all, what is more satisfying than a crisp Mythos after a day exploring dusty temples in the heat? And if Mythos doesn’t do it for you, the Santorini Brewing Company has their own line of quirky beers that go down just a little too well.
Have you eaten in Greece? What are some of your favourite Greek foods?