Lydia’s “all you need to know about Greek food”
Hello everyone! My name is Lydia and I am a proud Epicure. I recently visited Athens, Greece and I would love to share with you my foodie experiences through a guide to must-try, authentic Greek dishes.
Greek Street Food
The first thing you definitely need to try if you visit Athens is “souvlaki”. Souvlaki is a pita bread wrap with slices of chicken or pork, tomatoes, onions, chips and tzatziki (a sauce made with Greek yogurt, cucumber and garlic). It’s a delicious meal on the go and healthy too, especially if you drop the chips! Makes a great lunch while taking a break from your visit to the Acropolis.
The word “pastitsio” derives from the Italian word “pasticcio” but even though its name is Italian, the dish is Greek and is really tasty. It contains several layers of deliciousness and is really worth trying. The first layer is thick pasta tubes, then comes the minced beef cooked in tomato sauce, another layer of pasta and finally béchamel as the top layer. What makes it unique is the combination of tomato sauce and béchamel giving pastitsio a really juicy texture.
Youvetsi is my favourite Greek dish of all. It’s orzo pasta cooked in the oven with tomato sauce and chicken, lamb or beef. It is fairly simple to prepare and it’s bursting with flavour from all the spices used like cinnamon and nutmeg. Youvetsi makes a great Sunday family meal and is best enjoyed with some grated Parmesan sprinkled on top or feta cheese on the side.
Stuffed vegetables (gemista) is the perfect spring dish! Light and flavoursome, it makes a great vegetarian option. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, aubergine and courgettes are stuffed with rice, parsley, mint and tomato and are baked in the oven. Can be enjoyed both cold and hot and adding some raisins in the stuffing gives the vegetables just the right amount of sweetness.
Spinach pie (spanakopita), cheese pie (tiropita) or zucchini pie (kolokithopita), in Greece you can find any kind of sweet or savoury pie possible. If you try a homemade pie, the filo pastry will most probably be handmade which makes quite a difference in its taste. There are several stores in central Athens where you can try homemade pies, offering from simple flavours like plain cheese to more complicated ones like chicken and pepper.
Gliko tou Koutaliou
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on the traditional gliko tou koutaliou (spoon sweets). They are similar to sweet preserves but the fruits are kept whole and not mashed. From grape and prune to almond and tomato there are numerous options for you to choose from to satisfy your taste buds.
Traditional Greek Spirits
If you are looking to accompany your meal with a traditional drink, try “ouzo”, an anise flavour alcoholic beverage mixed with water and ice. If you would like to go for something stronger, try “raki” also known as “tsikoudia”, a Cretan grape-based pomace brandy similar to grappa, which contains 40%–65% alcohol by volume.
These are just some of the most traditional Greek dishes worth trying. If you are lucky enough and get to visit one of the Greek islands, don’t miss out on the fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables and local specialties.