The best oregano. Garlic. Amazing olive oil. Olives. Olive paste. Garlic sauces. Feta cheese.
And seafood, fresh vegetables, meats…. Greece is certainly a food lover’s paradise. People who had been to Greece before told me, “You will find that the food just tastes better there. Even Greek recipes we use here just don’t taste the same… ”
They are correct, and I think I know why – it’s possible that it’s due to the high-quality amazing oregano and olive oil that is used in so many dishes. In addition, food is considered a “delight of life” in Greece, and everything is prepared to bring out all the taste that is possible.
I did not take enough photos of the amazing platters of food I ate while in and around Athens for two weeks – I was too busy enjoying the food and looking forward to tasting something new, that I usually forgot to bring out the camera. Next time, I’ll know better. But the above photo was of a seafood sampler platter, one of many platters of food that was brought to our table at a “tavern” with a view of the sea near Mikrolimano, or perhaps closer to Skalakia. To be fair, I sometimes had difficulty with place-names in Greece, and found it hard at times to orient myself as to where I was in relation to other places.
But did I mention the food? Everywhere we went, the food beckoned me – even street side food vendors selling their souvlakia – it was all so good.
My awesome hostess also cooked for me many times, introducing me to homemade traditional Greek dinners, and I would eat until I was stuffed. And all the sauces I enjoyed – of course, I’m already familiar with and make my own tzatziki – but now I have more to try, like “skordalia,” another sauce with garlic but with a base of moistened slices of bread. I’m also on a quest for olive paste, something I first enjoyed while sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Athens.
Moussaka and pasticcio are on my list of things to try here after returning to North America but I doubt I’ll be able to get that exact same taste that I enjoyed while in Greece.
You don’t really know a “Greek salad” until you’ve had one in Greece. The big hunks of feta cheese, olive oil drizzled all over and plenty of the best oregano sprinkled on top.
Speaking of the oregano, I learned a lot about it. I wanted to know why the stuff we buy here is so utterly lame in comparison. I discovered that Greek oregano is of much higher quality and while in the same family as some of the oreganos we get here, is not the exact same plant. Much of the oregano we get in North America is actually “common marjoram,” and even the brands that have imported theirs from Turkey are not using Greek oregano. In addition, much of what we get here is mixed with bulking agents such as olive and sumac leaf.
So it has made me very happy to know that a serious quest is on to bring high quality certified oregano from Greece and make it available! I also learned that you had to be careful of some Greek oregano that is available here; it’s labeled “wild mountain grown” or similar, there is probably a good chance it was harvested illegally. Oregano cultivated for commercial purposes must be done by a certified grower in Greece in order to protect the wild plants from over-harvesting.
You can get a free E-Book with some Greek recipes by visiting and letting them know you are interested in when their Greek Oregano will be ready: Kirian Goods.
I will write more about my Greek culinary experiences over the next little while, but first – a photo of our view from the tavern we ate at, and a second photo of a big slouvaki – a “big one for a big boy,” the owner said. And was it ever good, and such a great deal at only 2.50 Euros!
Food in Greece really does taste better.