Travel is one of the most enriching experiences that someone can have in their lives. Opening to new cultures makes you widen up to knowledge that sometimes can’t be found in the pages of a book. After so many years of having the chance to do it, I’ve been able to identify specific elements that can change a whole trip around and make you see a city in a complete different way, and the gastronomy is one of them.
A rule that should never be forgotten is to let yourself dig into the depths of the place you are visiting and, as I once read, “Cooking and eating in a foreign country may be the surest, truest way to its soul”, so Greece can be the best example to discuss this.
My last trip to the Mediterranean country was a combination of ancient culture, architecture, history, landscapes and gastronomy. After a week of getting lost in the tiny and colorful streets of Santorini and travelling back in time around Athens, I discovered that one of the elements that makes this country so fascinating is their ability to prepare fresh ingredients and transform them into a sweet memory in the mouths of the tourists.
In general terms, their cuisine is based on freshly picked fruits and vegetables, olives, and wine. Sounds simple, but that’s the main secret that transforms every dish into a unique experience. Due to its wide territory and privileged location, each region has a gastronomic identity that differs one from another, but all of them promise the same result.
Athens is a great introduction to many of the typical dishes that make this culture richer. Your trip cannot be complete without getting lost around the streets of Plaka, choose any restaurant where you can get a marvelous view of the Parthenon and share it with a local wine and, as a starter, the famous Greek Salad, which consists in tomatoes, olives, cucumber, and feta cheese. Even though it goes undressed, some restaurants may prepare it with a bit of vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. As the evening goes on, you can compliment your meal with the typical Gyros, Courgette balls, and Baklava or Amygdalota for dessert.
Moving a bit south to the islands, you can find a whole different experience. As everyone can guess, this zone is rich in seafood, but if there is something I will never forget of my days in Santorini is the freshness of everything you eat, from breakfast to dinner.
First, you have to start your day with a plate of authentic Greek yogurt with honey and a special selection of fruits. After a long walk through Oia, you can make a small break and delight yourself with a seafood platter, some feta cheese, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, of anything else you find amusing on the menu.
Due to its ancient volcanic history, the type of soil has become a fundamental element on the raising of a special type of vegetables as the white eggplant and a kind of “waterless” cucumber called “antzouri”. Many of these dishes can be found in most of the restaurants around the island, where the fusion of the flavors and the ocean view will steal your breath away.
Greece has become one of the ultimate destinations in the past years but, if you think the Acropolis and paradisiac islands are the only thing worth visiting, you need to start digging a bit more in its culture and dare to “go local” for having one of the most memorable trips of your life.