Savor the Flavors of Greece

The best Greek food is shaped by the seasons and the natural bounty of land and sea.

A menu outside a taverna highlights the Greek food available inside.

A menu outside a taverna highlights the offerings available inside

Photo Credit: iStock

Plato must have just eaten a home-cooked Greek meal when he said that the beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.

Moussaka is a traditional Greek food dish.

Moussaka

Photo Credit: iStock

The best Greek food is straightforward goodness, dependent not on fancy techniques but instead informed by the seasons and the natural bounty of farm and sea. Greece, a country that inspired philosophers and birthed modern-day democracy, is home to truly brilliant Mediterranean cuisine—food that is tasty, uncomplicated and irresistible.

While fans of Greek food may be familiar with traditional dishes like moussaka (a layered casserole with ground lamb, eggplant and potatoes in béchamel sauce) and dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice with notes of bright citrus and olive oil), visitors to the country have a feast of regional dishes to discover. For thousands of years, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, grains, lamb, fish, feta cheese and wine have formed the foundation of one of Europe’s healthiest cuisines.

The Greek table groans under influences from Italy, Persia, North Africa and Turkey. To the rugged north, with its fertile growing season and robust wine regions, spicy dishes like soutzoukakia (meat patties fragrant with cumin and coriander) and tas kebab (a simmered stew of lamb, chilies and onion) are prized. Cheese is always on the menu, including pontiako tyri (a semisoft braided cheese made from buffalo or cow’s milk) and kapnisto (a smoked version reminiscent of Italy’s scamorza).

Seafood dominates the Greek food offered at tavernas along the coast.

Seafood dominates the menus at tavernas along the coast

Photo Credit: iStock

Spetsofai, a rustic spicy simmer of thick pork sausages, herbs and peppers, is a familiar comfort food in central Greece. For dessert, try glyko kastano, a chestnut pudding flavored with honey and oranges.

Seafood dominates meals served at the tavernas along Greece’s azure coastline and in the Peloponnesus, a peninsula in the south of Greece blessed with mountains filled with game and seas full of fish and shellfish. Lobster and crab are often simply chargrilled and served with lemon and olive oil, but Peloponnese also cook savory dishes with cinnamon or raisins, like savoro, local fish marinated with rosemary and vinegar and then fried.

In Athens, a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, all kinds of Greek food are served in tiny family-owned eateries and restaurants. Perhaps the one common thread you’ll find no matter where you dine in Greece is a love of sweets. Greek sweets—liked the traditional baklava and galaktoboureko custard and regional classics like Thessaloniki’s triangle pastries—are often drizzled with honey, studded with walnuts and slathered in custard. They’re best appreciated with a cup of strong coffee (or two) and a glass of ouzo (or two!) in hand.

AAA Travel offers a variety of trips to Greece. Call 877-396-7159 or visit your local branch to talk to a AAA Travel Counselor.

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David Kallas, AAA Travel Counselor, Murray, Utah

I'm all about once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations such as the Cook Islands, Australia or an African safari. I love to plan trips that my clients return from not regretting anything.

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