One of the best things about visiting Greece is all the mouthwatering food on offer. Ancient Greek cuisine was founded on the basis of wheat, olive oil, and wine. Since then, the addition of spices from the Byzantine spice trade, and influences from Italian, Turkish, and French cooking have morphed the food of the area into the delectable dishes we know and love. Here’s our list of 5 must-try dishes for your next trip to the taverna.


Papoutsakia

Papoutsakia translates as “little shoe”, a name which is far less appealing than the dish itself - but looking at the stuffed eggplants, it’s easy to see how the name came about. It’s traditionally prepared with a mixture of mince meat and cheesy bechamel sauce and baked to a perfect golden gratination. If you like moussaka, you’ll love papoutsakia.


Stifado

You can never go wrong with a warm, satisfying plate of stew. Stifado, or stifatho, may be made of any number of ingredients - meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables. What makes this stew so distinctive is the inclusion of whole small onions, which often equal or outweigh the chief ingredient. Combined with tomato, wine, and a selection of spices (often cinnamon and clove), it’s a fragrant, flavourful tummy-filler not to be missed.


Kleftiko

If the words “slow roasted lamb” set your mouth watering, this is the dish for you. Marinated in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, kleftiko was traditionally cooked in an earth oven, although now it’s more commonly prepared in parchment paper parcels. The dish takes its name, which literally means “stolen”, from the Klephts, brigands who would cook stolen lambs in underground ovens so that the scent of their cooking wouldn’t give them away.


Fasolada

We can trace this wholesome and hearty dish back to ancient Greece, although the ingredients have changed since those times. The key ingredients in modern fasolada are white beans and tomatoes, both of which are New World plants, not native to the ancient Mediterranean. Recipes vary greatly throughout the region, with some including meat and others replacing the white beans with butter beans or even red or green beans. Delicious!


Bougatsa

Bougatsa is a versatile breakfast pastry, not unlike a danish. Layers of phyllo pastry filled with semolina custard, and dusted in powdered sugar. It’s worth noting that each region has its own take on bougatsa, with varying flavour profiles and textures. Some may even eschew the creamy custard filling in favour of a savoury cheese or minced meat option. Whatever the filling, is there a better way to start the day?

 

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