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With a climate that’s dry and warm for much of the year, Greece is blessed with an abundance of locally grown food that is used to make dishes that have been passed down through the ages. A key part of any holiday to Greece, the country has plenty of choice - from backstreet tavernas, to fusion cuisine and local delicacies served all around the country. In fact, Greek cuisine is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet - with olive oil, fresh seafood, locally grown vegetables, various meats, cheese and yoghurt all common place. Simple and fresh, Greek dishes are often enjoyed with a glass of local wine or an aperitif of Ouzo (a local anise-flavoured spirit). If you're planning a holiday to Greece and want to indulge in the local cuisine (and why wouldn't you), we've put together a list of the top 10 foods you must try whilst you're there:
One of the most popular Greek desserts, this sweet pastry is made up of layers of filo, chopped nuts, cinnamon and honey. Also a popular treat in the Middle East, both Greece and Turkey still claim to be the original inventor of this dessert which dates back to the Roman era. A popular snack throughout bakeries, cafes and coffee shops in the capital, holidaymakers on an Athens break can refuel after a day of exploring with a strong Greek coffee with some tasty baklava.
No holiday in Greece would be complete without sampling a tasty Greek salad, which can easily be found throughout the whole of the country. Usually eaten with most meals, Greek salad consist of tomatoes, olives, cucumber and feta cheese, often served with olive oil and vinegar. Greek salad is so popular that even those enjoying an all inclusive holiday in Greece will find it’s a common dish in resort buffets, and makes a refreshing accompaniment to your main meal.
This aubergine-based dish with layers of potatoes and mincemeat in a creamy, bechamel sauce is comfort food at its best. You’ll find this dish on the menu at many Greek tavernas, with restaurants in Athens vying for the title of the ‘best moussaka’. Tourists on holiday in Santorini will find that the island has a slightly different twist on traditional moussaka, using white aubergines that are local to the island.
Filo pastry is a popular feature in Greek cuisine and this classic, flaky pie is served as a snack, appetiser or as part of a main course. Underneath the layers of buttery, filo pastry you’ll find a creamy filling made with spinach, lemon juice and feta cheese and it’s a dish most commonly found in Athens.
You’re most likely find this delicious casserole dish on many a local menu whilst enjoying a Corfu island holiday. This hearty meal is comprised of slow-cooked beef, tomato, onion and plenty of spices including cloves, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, nutmeg, pepper and bay leaf, all topped off with a generous splash of olive oil. The dish is served with thick, tubular spaghetti – making it a great option after a fun-filled day of exploring.
One of the most popular fast-food options in Greece, souvlaki is available throughout the country and is commonly found at roadside stalls, food markets and informal restaurants. Made with pork, chicken or lamb, souvlaki is created using chunks of meat grilled on large pits before being transferred to skewers. The skewers are often served with tzatziki (a local dip made from yoghurt, cucumber and mint) and pita bread, salad, chips or rice. Particularly popular on the Greek islands, tourists who visit Mykonos and Crete will certainly have plenty of opportunities to try this flavoursome dish.
These tasty fritters are available throughout Greece but are most commonly a feature of holidays to Crete, and the island is renowned for serving the best version. Made from courgettes, onion, fresh mint and feta cheese, all bound together with egg and flour, before being fried, these delicious appetizers are mouth-wateringly good.
Traditionally eaten as an accompaniment to a main meal, dolmades are vine or grape leaf parcels stuffed with herby, lemon rice and steamed. Known for being very healthy, dolmades are also sometimes stuffed with meat and vegetables, and are a common side dish throughout Greece.
Greece have been cultivating olives for thousands of years, and a bowl of olives plays a key part in most Greek meals. Whether you enjoy them as a pre-dinner snack, or as a salty accompaniment to a cocktail, there's something undeniably fresh and tasty about the olives served throughout Greece. Similarly, olive oil, is used liberally in Greek cuisine, and you will often find a bottle on the table to further dress your food with.
Fresh fish and seafood play a huge part in Greek holidays and with the country’s vast coastline it’s easy to see why. There’s a fantastic variety to choose from, with fresh dishes often best enjoyed at a seafood restaurant overlooking the coastline. Popular seafood includes lobster, squid, octopus and mussels, whereas fish eaters can expect a wide range of choice including swordfish, tuna, bream, trout, sardines and mackerel.