Prepare your taste buds for the trip of a lifetime in Greece. About 100 Greek products — from wines, cheese and fruits to honey and oils — earned a Protected Designation of Origin from the European Union, and the country’s most beloved dishes include Greek Choriatiki salad, tzatziki, souvlaki and moussaka, with its layers of eggplant, potato, minced meat and bechamel. And those are only a few of the many highlights.
One cannot take on a culinary journey of Greece without understanding the importance of olive trees, which, throughout history, thrive in the Mediterranean sun and Aegean winds. For Greeks, the olive tree is a symbol of peace, social and religious values, progress and wisdom. Olive oil has been produced in Greece for 4,000 years, and the country is the third-largest producer of olives and olive oil with 120 million trees throughout Greece.
With olive oil as step one, Greek cheeses are the next progression. Its cheese for all seasons is feta, but that’s just the beginning. Of the many varieties, consider these standouts:
- Manoura, aged in wine dregs
- Kalathaki, with goat’s milk
- Wine-soaked Krassotyri
- Tart, creamy Sitaka spread
- Kefalograviera, typically found in baked dishes like moussaka
For a main course, there’s an abundance of definitive Greek dishes; the gastronomic excellence is far too vast for any one list, but some to try include:
- Greek pies, in many scrumptious combinations like cheese, spinach, leek, mushroom and more
- Makarounes, a pasta with caramelized onions
- Stuffed lamb or goat with bulghur wheat comprise vyzanti
- Stifado is a beef stew with baby onions
- Pastitsio tis nonas is a baked pasta dish with minced meat and bechamel sauce
- Ofto, or roasted baby goat
A sweet finish is a must on this tasty journey. While there are many options, these may whet your appetite in the meantime:
- Sesame is another crucial ingredient in Greek cuisine, and for a sweet twist featuring sesame, try halva
- Tart Greek pies, and melopita, a honey pie
- Moustokouloura are sweet cookies with grape must and olive oil
- Also featuring sesame, pastelaries feature dried figs, almonds and sesame seeds
No meal is complete without a libation, and Greece’s wine production is large, important and impressive, with 10 prominent grape varietals. Agiorgitiko is the king of red grapes, with Xinomarro curated in several different Greek regions. Liatiko is an exclusive Cretan grape and among the oldest of the Greek varieties, while Limnio is an ancient red varietal. Assyrtiko is the noblest of the whites. More of a beer drinker? Take a sip of Zythos, the Greek beer.
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