From mouth-watering moussaka to simple (feta) salads, from delicious Tzatziki to sweets dripping in nuts and honey, Greek food is one of the culinary highlights of Europe. If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying a timeshare break on one of the Greek islands any time soon, such as Zante (our inspiration for this post), then here’s our ultimate foodie guide – enjoy!
Greek food on the islands can be out-of-this-world – think plenty of Mediterranean flavours, with a spicy sprinkling of herbs and spices.
Many of the most popular Greek recipes haven’t changed for decades, and the traditions pass down the generations. The Greek cuisine of Zante is based on the age-old olive oil foundation, mixed with strong spices and herbs. You can also expect plenty of simple dishes – lots of fish, meats and vegetables, all dished up with delicious fresh bread (a typical island bread is made with a touch of aniseed and baked with a sprinkling of sesame seeds). You can also enjoy lots of olive oil, tzatziki, onion and garlic, cheese and aubergines.
However, Greek food in the islands depends on the seasons – certain dishes aren’t available during some periods, as well as specific types of seafood or fish. And eating local, and with the seasons, is one of the reasons Greek food is so healthy. In fact the islanders on Ikaria live in a Blue Zone, which means they have among the highest number of fit, healthy people anywhere in the world, who often live beyond 100.
Greek Cuisine: Starters
Starters in Greece tend to start rich, and with many choices. If you don’t have a large appetite, there’s a chance you’ll finish your meal with starters alone. Favourites include salads with many vegetables and minced meat, meatballs, fries, and Tzatziki.
Some of the most famous Greek Appetisers include:
Melitzanosalata– an eggplant dip perfect for meaty dishes
Baked Zucchini with potatoes
Small fried sandwiches
Dolmadakia – grape leaves stuffed with different fillings
Tyropitakia – small crunchy pastries filled with feta cheese
Main Courses – Greek Specialties
There are dozens of meals on the menu in most tavernas, but try sampling the specialties – every place has its own special dish, which they are proud of.
There will often be some kind of performance when dining at a Greek taverna; think plenty of plate smashing, music, and theatre-like attention grabbing.
We recommend that you don’t miss these:
Moussaka– This world-famous meal is made from eggplants, minced meat and béchamel
Kabobs– A mixture of meat and veggies served on skewers
Pastitsio– A baked pasta dish
Stifado– This casserole-baked Greek stew is made with meat, tomatoes, pearl onions, white wine, garlic, cinnamon and oregano.
Paidakia– Deliciously well-seasoned lamb chops
Just remember – to eat like a Greek, you’ll have to eat a lot. Every specialty comes with additional bread or pitta (tortilla), and when dished up with fine wine, or beer, you can be sure your belly will be full.
Traditionally, Greeks aren’t huge fans of sweets – fruit, yogurt and some honey are the most popular puds you’ll find. However, many restaurants in Zakynthos have responded to tourists by adding popular and familiar desserts around the world.
However, wherever you can – go Greek! Our pick of the best include:
Baklava– Delicious pastries with strong flavours, often soaked in honey and sprinkled with nuts
Various fruit cakes
Pastries like Kataifi
Bougatsa– Puff pastry stuffed with cream and covered with icing sugar and cinnamon