Greece attracts with its Mediterranean landscapes, steady pace of life and marvellous cuisine which is regarded to be one of the tastiest in the world. How is it that traditional Greek delicacies enjoy such great recognition? First of all, the Greeks attach great importance to the quality of food products from which they compose meals. Secondly, they combine various flavours and aromas with sensitivity and passion. Greek cuisine, both on the continent and on the islands, is simple, healthy, and the preparation of most dishes does not take much time.

What should you try during your vacation in Greece? Discover the most popular dishes and specialties from various parts of the country.

Souvlaki ©iStock

Souvlaki ©iStock

Greek culinary delights

The lengthy history of Greek cuisine which dates back to antiquity has had a significant impact on what the Greeks eat today. Grilled souvlaki meat, aubergine moussaka casserole, the iconic gyros, Greek salad are all classics of Mediterranean cuisine that you can try in every corner of Hellas. It is worth remembering, though, that individual regions have their local (often less known) culinary specialties. Their common denominator is high-quality olive oil, feta, fresh vegetables and herbs – thyme, oregano, rosemary, laurel. Sweet snacks contain ingredients such as aromatic cinnamon, honey and pistachios (baklava). Fresh fish and seafood, firm olives, lamb, mutton and selected wines made from old, native grape varieties reign on the tables. The Mediterranean climate is conducive to cultivation, and the wine tradition has survived here for thousands of years.

Olives ©iStock

Olives ©iStock

Greek olives served as a side dish (antipasti) or a component of the dish enjoy world recognition. Olive groves are an inseparable element of the Greek landscape in almost any part of the world. A popular delicacy for which the Peloponnese is famous are the Corinthian raisins, called ‘the grape of Black Corinth’. Individual regions of Greece can be proud of their own cheese produced according to a traditional recipe. For example, in Chania it is white pichtogalo cheese, on the island of Lesbos there is yellow mature cheese ladotyri, and in the Domokos region – katiki Domokou – a soft, low-fat cheese. The Greek village offers only the best, including the precious saffron from Kozani, yellow peas fava from Santorini, eggplant Tsakoniki cultivated, among others, on the Peloponnese, or portokalia Chanion, or oranges from Crete.

Kleftiko ©iStock

Kleftiko ©iStock

Cycladic cuisine

Santorini, Mykonos, Delos and Ios are picturesque islands that are part of the Cyclades archipelago, located on the south-eastern coast of Greece. Each of them is unique in terms of cuisine. Cyclades are famous for such delicacies as makaroune (homemade pasta with caramelised onions), sgardoumia (offal soup), dolmadakia (grape leaves stuffed with meat or rice), revithokeftedes (fried chickpea balls), melitzanosalata (stuffed eggplant) tomatoes or melopita (honey cake).

Cycladic islands are also known for their delicious beverages. A popular white vine variety in Santorini is the Assyrtiko strain, from which light, slightly refreshing white wines are obtained.

Crete – a paradise for the palate

Explorers of authentic culinary experiences in Crete will feel pampered in every respect. The local Crete specialties are healthy and aromatic. These include ofto (roast goat), dakos (rusks with tomatoes, white cheese and olive oil), as well as boubouristoi (fried snails with the addition of vinegar, wine and rosemary). Crete is also known for the production of soft white xynomyzithra and kopanisti, as well as yellow hard graviera. Restaurants in Chania, Heraklion and other Cretan towns are a mecca for enthusiasts of good food. In Crete there are also many native vineyards offering tasting of white and red wine. Respected brands come from, among others, around Heraklion (Lyrarakis vineyard) and from the town of Sitia.

Greek dishes ©iStock

Greek dishes ©iStock

Island flavours of The Ionian Sea

What distinguishes Ionian cuisine? Above all a slightly sour taste resulting from the use of vinegar and rosemary in many traditional dishes. The most popular delicacies in this part of Greece include bourdetto (fish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce), sofrito (veal steak stewed in white wine with the addition of garlic and herbs), strapatsada (scrambled eggs with feta and tomatoes) and pastels (honey bars). When on the island of Zakynthos, be sure to try cooked fish with garlic and lemon sauce and oven-baked country bread, which is an inseparable addition to many dishes.

Greek salad ©iStock

Greek salad ©iStock

The cuisine of Dodecanese

Dodecanese is an archipelago in the Aegean Sea, which includes the islands of Rhodes, Kos and Karpathos. The Dodecanese cuisine is known for its delicious meat dishes and desserts. Examples include boukounies (braised pork with herbs) and xerotigan (fried dough bathed in sweet syrup or honey). In traditional Rhodian dishes and snacks you can find large amounts of sesame, honey, chickpeas and other legumes. In Rhodes, the production of various drinks is also flourishing, with the famous Koriantolino at the forefront (a sweet liqueur based on the iconic ouzo with the addition of coriander, saffron and vanilla).

©iStock

©iStock

Local specialties of Greek cuisine delight with their simplicity and depth of taste. A culinary trip through Greece is a great experience for all enthusiasts of great food.

The text was created in collaboration with the Greek National Tourism Organisation.