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GREEK CUISINE

Greek & Messinian Cuisine

A taste of Greece!

Greece is fast becoming a top gastronomic destination. Discover the traditional products of the Greek land and the secrets of the Greek cuisine. Embark on a journey of flavours, stop in Messinia and immerse yourself in the majestic products of this fertile corner of the Earth.

The Culinary Tradition of Greece

When Greeks sit down to eat, whether it’s a full meal or just homemade mezedes (appetizers) prepared by the Greek mama (mother), they partake in a tradition dating back centuries.

For Greeks, sharing a meal with friends, be it at home or at a local tavern, is a deeply ingrained social custom. Besides, the Greek word “symposium”, itself as old as the history of Greece, actually means “to drink together”!

Food preparation abides by sacred rules. Good amateur chefs are held in high esteem among their circle of friends, while, for Greeks, a good housewife is tantamount to a great cook. And great cooks love to share their expertise and invite friends to join in the food preparations.

In this spirit of sharing, let’s reveal the 4 secrets of the Greek cuisine:

  • Fresh, quality ingredients.
  • The right amount of herbs and spices.
  • A splash (or maybe more) of quality Greek olive oil.
  • Simplicity.

Traditional Greek Products

The Greek land produces quality ingredients, famous the world over:

Greek olive oil – It is a staple of the Greek diet, used in nearly all the dishes.

Fresh fruit and vegetables – Available mainly in season.

Herbs – They are abundant in Greek nature and picked fresh from hillsides and fields.

Cheese – There are many traditional Greek cheeses available, with feta cheese taking centre stage.

Meat – Be it pork, chicken, beef or even game, Greece can satisfy any meat eater’s palate.

Seafood – It is an indisputable fact that the Mediterranean Sea is home to some of the most delectable seafood.

The Culinary Tradition of Messinia

Messinia is a place blessed with fertile land. An authentic Greek region, it has been inhabited since antiquity, mainly due to its verdant valleys, imposing mountains, gorges, fresh waters and golden beaches, bathed by the Mediterranean sun.

Steeped in sunshine, its fertile soil produces wholesome, highly nutritious food. This is the reason why the Messinian cuisine is so flavoursome and captivating, winning over anyone who tastes it. With influences from the greater Mediterranean region, it can satisfy even the most discerning palates.

The Messinian diet is greatly based on traditional local products, with olive oil at the top of the list.

 

Traditional Messinian Products

Acres upon acres of olive groves, fig trees, vineyards, citrus trees and fragrant herbs growing in every crevice: these are nature’s gifts, found abundant in the blessed land of Messinia.

Olive oil – Referred to by Homer as “liquid gold”, Messinian olive oil is top quality, ranked among the best olive oils worldwide, with protected designation of origin (PDO).

Kalamata olives – They are known for their beautiful deep purple-black colour, crunchy texture and distinctive, almost fruity, aroma.

Balsamic vinegar – Made from sun-dried grapes, the Messinian balsamic vinegar is world-renowned.

Raisins – Messinia is one of the top producers and exporters of raisins in Greece. Raisin production in the area dates back 3,000 years.

Figs – Fig production in this corner of the Earth dates back to antiquity. The figs are turned into delicious products, such as sykopasta (fig bar), sykokafes (fig coffee), fig syrup, sykalaki (fig spoon sweet), fig jam, etc.

Cheese – It is made exclusively from Messinian milk. The trademark cheese of Messinia is PDO sfela, but you can also find great local feta, myzithra, talagani and graviera.

Honey – A staple of the Greek land, honey is synonymous with Greece and its culinary tradition.

Pasteli – It is a traditional Greek sesame bar, made from sesame seeds and honey. A symbol of abundance and fertility since antiquity, pasteli used to be given to guests at weddings so the couple would enjoy a sweet life together.

Fruit & vegetables – The Messinian land produces an abundance of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruit, wild artichokes, wild asparagus and prickly pears.

Herbs & assorted greens – The valleys and mountains are home to unique fragrant herbs and edible flora. Picking chorta (assorted greens) – such as Mt Taygetos wild greens, ovries and lergoudes – is a Greek tradition. Boiled chorta served with olive oil and lemon is as Greek as you can get!

Wine, ouzo & tsipouro – A Greek feast is always accompanied by alcohol. Messinia produces fine red, rose and white wines, as well as distilled spirits in the form of ouzo or tsipouro.

Trahana & hilopites – Pasta takes on a new meaning in Greece. Locally produced trahana (fermented milk pasta) and hilopites (egg pasta) are a great side dish to meats, but also make an excellent meal on their own.

Traditional Messinian Food

Wholesome, home-cooked food, where local ingredients are blended together following age-old recipes, is what Greece is all about. And Messinia is a worthy representative of the Greek cuisine:

Gournopoula – Oven-baked pork, roasted with coarse salt, pepper and oregano.

Sygklino or pasto – Cured pork smoked over sage, terebinth and cypress tree leaves. It is then boiled in orange juice, with cloves, orange peel and spices.

Kagianas – Omelette cooked with fresh tomato and sygklino or traditional sausage.

Bardouniotikos kokkoras with hilopites – Rooster cooked in red sauce and served with hilopites and myzithra cheese.

Goat with fennel and potatoes – A traditional dish baked in a wood-fire oven.

Pork with celery – Cooked in a pot and topped with egg-lemon sauce.

Tsiladia – Cured cod fish in red sauce and raisins.

Trahana soup or trahana with sfela – Traditional fermented milk pasta served as a soup with sfela cheese.

Makaronia tsigarista – Pasta topped with sizzling olive oil and served with myzithra cheese and eggs sunny side up.

Fasolia mavromatika – Black-eyed peas in spinach and tomato sauce.

Ovries sfoungato – Assorted greens sautéed with onion, potatoes and dill, and topped with thick lemon sauce.

Kolokythokorfades – Zucchini flowers sautéed in olive oil with green herbs and freshly grated tomato.

Kalamata kapama – Cauliflower in red sauce served with potatoes.

Petoules or Messinian plakotiganites – Messinian crepes stuffed with salty myzithra cheese.

Traditional Messinian Desserts

For those with a sweet tooth, Messinia won’t let you down:

Galopita – Traditional pie without pastry, made with milk, eggs, sugar and semolina.

Diples – Fried thin sheet-like dough, topped with honey and walnuts, traditionally served at engagements and weddings.

Spoon sweets – Known as glyka tou koutaliou, they are made from fresh seasonal fruit.

Lalangia & tiganites – Lalangia are fritters made from fried dough and topped with honey and cheese. Tiganites are traditional Greek pancakes served with honey.

Halva simigdali – Traditional pudding-like dessert made with semolina and sweetened with syrup.

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