Greek food exemplifies Mediterranean flavors. Seasonal ingredients, delicious cheeses and excellent oil olive are highlighted in Greek cuisine.
I hear you… I’ve been there. Your trip to Greece is up next, you can’t stop dreaming of whitewashed landscapes and a romantic dinner by the sea… Everything looks inviting, except that you have no clue about what to eat in Greece. Well, take it easy. The Greek cuisine combines the best flavors of the Mediterranean. It includes abundant seasonal veggies, top quality olive oil, great cheeses and a reduced amount of meat. These are the basics of Greek food… so, sit at the Greek table, knowing what dishes to eat in Greece… And as the Greeks say, Kali Oreksi (or bon appetit)!
Basic Greek Dishes: What to Eat in Greece, photo provided by The Tiny Book.
What Dishes to Eat in Greece: 5 Must-Try Dishes
If you’ve never tried moussaka, a gyro dish with tons of tzatziki or a Greek salad in Greece (made by locals, and with indigenous ingredients), then those should be your first request. But your choice is wider, the basics of the local food include a plethora of other dishes for those still wondering what to eat in Greece.
Most restaurants in Greece serve octopus so this one is quite easy to find. What’s surprising, though, is the variety of recipes and cooking methods. You can try it in stews, salads, or with pasta. Even cooked in wine, or simply grilled with French fried. The secret to its unique taste is simple: The Greeks know how to cook it.
Octopus with fava, photo provided by The Tiny Book.
Skordalia similar to a sauce, but with a more firm texture, similar to a thick puree, but much more savory. This very simple dish is made mixing mashed boiled potatoes, abundant garlic, lemon, and olive oil. It’s great with fried fish, snails or meat.
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Another local favorite is this authentic dish (which, has nothing to do with the fava bean). Fava is a traditional kind of puree, made of yellow split peas cooked with pieces of onions, and then served with parsley and lots of olive oil. Normally served as an appetizer together with warm pieces of pita bread.
Greek Fava, photo provided by The Tiny Book.
Meatballs or keftedes are, in fact, a dish of the tradition that finds its origins in the influence that the long Turkish occupation had on the local food. The curious thing about them is that every region in Greece has a vegetable variety of its own. Try tomatokeftedes in Santorini, revithokeftedes (made of chickpeas) in Sifnos, but also marathokeftedes (fennel fritters), and psarokeftedes (made of fish).
More than a dish, saganaki is a way of cooking. In fact, the term comes from the name of the frying pan (also called saganaki). You can have mussels saganaki or shrimp saganaki both with tomato sauce and with a decisive flavor. If you love cheese, go for cheese saganaki. Fried and melted in the pan, served with lemon juice and some pepper.
Cheese Saganaki, photo provided by The Tiny Book.
Basics of Greek Food: Staple Dishes
Staple dishes of the Greek cuisine are not necessarily the ones you can find in any Greek restaurant. These are the dishes most tourists don’t know about because they remain hidden in the realm of Greek grandma’s kitchen. Still, they are part of the Greek food tradition, so ask for them in a local tavern off the beaten path. You won’t regret it!
Greek Food: Go beyond the Greek Salad! Photo provided by The Tiny Book.
Despite their undeniably French tradition, snails have very old roots in Greek cuisine. In Crete, for instance, they are cooked with courgettes, potatoes, onions, and tomato sauce. And they are a true delicacy. But snails are also available in other Greek destinations. Served boiled with olive oil and herbs, or even fried as a snack with a glass of ouzo.
Ladotyri is a dish made with two basic ingredients: oil and cheese. This cheese varies in taste and texture according to the region. However, it remains a staple dish, especially in Lesvos. It’s a hard, yellow type of cheese with a rich, sharp flavor.
Salad with ladotyri, photo provided by The Tiny Book.
One more basic Greek dish. It’s a sauce made of lemon, egg, and broth has a pleasant sour flavor. Avgolemono is perfect with lamb, meatballs, chicken and even wild greens. Many locals prepare it in the form of a soup, not very appealing in looks, but simply stunning in taste.
No matter how strong the influence from neighboring countries might have been, Greece has an identity of its own when it comes to food. It might not be as popular as Italian or Spanish, but it’s certainly one of the most delicious cuisines in the World.