To Greeks, food is a way of life and eating out is a national pastime. Greek food is deliciously simple, yet it’s some of the healthiest and tastiest food you’ll ever have the pleasure of eating.
The Greek kitchen is based around fresh, local ingredients. Olive oil, fresh vegetables, cheese, yoghurt, local herbs (especially oregano, rosemary and thyme), seafood, beef, pork, lamb, olives, and honey.
The food in the Dodecanese varies a little from that on many other Greek islands. There’s a subtle eastern influence here – a throwback to the time of Ottoman rule – notable in the spices added to meals. Although you’ll still find all of your favourite Greek dishes here.
Here’s an overview of Greek food, along with a look at some of the specialities of Halki and Tilos.
Greek Fast Food
Yes, there is such a thing! (And it’s much better than the sort of fast food you’re probably used to!)
Traditional Greek fast food is souvlaki. Succulent chunks of chicken or pork, cooked on a skewer, traditionally served with chips, pita and tzatziki (Greek yoghurt flavoured with garlic and cucumber). You can also eat a souvlaki pita, where the chunks of meat are rolled in a pita with chips and tzatziki. Or try gyros, meat cooked on a vertical spit and served in the same way.
Other options for a quick snack can be found in Greek bakeries, where you can grab a slice of spinach pie (spanakopita) or cheese pie (tiropita), both made with flaky filo pastry.
Meze (short for mezedes) are small, shared plates, similar to Spanish tapas, and they’re one of the most popular ways of eating. You can order meze as appetisers, a snack, or as a casual meal.
Some of the most popular meze are taramosalata (pink dip made with cod roe), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), melitzanosalata (roast aubergine dip), saganaki (salty fried cheese), and fritters, which can be made from a variety of ingredients including tomatoes, chickpeas, courgette, and pumpkin.
You can also choose from a selection of fish meze, including small fried fish (sardines, whitebait, anchovies), calamari, grilled squid and octopus. Or meat meze, such as keftedes (meatballs) and spicy Greek sausages.
Typical Greek Dishes
Locally caught fish and locally raised grilled meats and poultry are a staple of many main courses. However, there are a number of traditional Greek dishes, which must be sampled, including:
- Moussaka: Greek comfort food at its finest, comprising layers of aubergine, mince and béchamel sauce.
- Pastitsio: Similar to Italian lasagne, made up of layers of ground beef or lamb with macaroni and béchamel sauce, and topped with cheese.
- Kleftiko: Slow-roast lamb stew marinated in garlic, lemon and herbs.
- Stifado: Rabbit stew cooked with onions. Sometimes beef is substituted for rabbit.
- Yemista: Vegetables – usually peppers, tomatoes, aubergine or courgette – baked and stuffed with minced meat and herbs.
- Horiatiki: Greek salad, made from sweet, ripe tomatoes, peeled cucumber, black olives, peppers and a block of feta. Dressed with olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar, and sprinkled with oregano.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ve come to the right place. Baklava (filo pastry filled with nuts and dripping with honey) is often used to top off a meal, as is Greek yoghurt and honey. Other sweet treats include loukoumades (deep fried honey balls dipped in honey and cinnamon) and halva (sweet dessert that’s either made from tahini paste or semolina, and flavoured with nuts, honey or chocolate).
Specialities of Halki
Each region and island of Greece has its own culinary specialities, which are a great way to sample local ingredients.
As a fishing island, freshly caught fish is always available, and Halki shrimps are a delicious delicacy – small, sweet, local shrimps cooked in their shells and eaten whole.
Halki pasta is small, distinctive local pasta, served with fried onions and goats’ cheese. Ofto is another lip-smackingly good main meal, made of local lamb stuffed with rice and kidneys, and baked in the oven.
Halki is also known for its excellent thyme honey, delicious drizzled over thick, creamy Greek yoghurt.
Specialities of Tilos
Many of the specialities on Tilos revolve around goat, including stuffed goat baked in the oven, goat in lemon sauce, and goat stew. You can also try yiaprakia (vine leaves stuffed with minced meat), kavourmas (fried pork) or koulousoufades (entrails stuffed with ground beef or chopped livers, rice and local herbs). Tilos also makes its own, local pasta, koulouria, often served with tomato sauce or cheese and butter.
Other specialities of Tilos are the local thyme honey, traditional hard cheese, dried fragrant herbs, and lots of sweet treats, including pouggakia (pastry filled with almonds and sesame seeds).
Holiday in Halki and Tilos with Nissia Holidays
If all this talk of Greek food has whet your appetite and you want to sample the culinary delights of the Dodecanese, particularly the two unspoilt islands of Halki or Tilos (or both!), see our accommodation pages.
For more information or to book your holiday in Halki or Tilos, contact Nissia Holidays on 01455 289421 or email us: email@example.com.