This summer, I spent five glorious weeks traveling, studying, and eating throughout Greece —Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Delphi, and Tolo — with 15 fellow Villanova students and two professors.
During orientation before our trip, one of our professors said, “We’ll be doing SO much walking and hiking, I’ll be surprised if you gain weight.” To which I said, “Challenge accepted.”
Two words: Cheese. Pie. This bakery item was one of the very first Greek foods I was exposed to during my trip. When I bit into the buttery phyllo dough filled with that perfect cheese mixture? Let’s just say this photo was my first tiropita, and far from my last.
2. Greek Salads
But more importantly, the feta. I could go on about the juicy tomatoes, the fresh cucumbers, the heavenly olive oil… but, like, that’s a BLOCK of feta cheese on top. And let me get one thing straight: If you’ve never been to Greece, you’ve never tasted real feta cheese.
Did you know the word “gyro” means “turn”? Neither did I, until just now. It makes sense, then, that gyro meat — usually chicken, beef, lamb, or pork — is cooked on a vertical, cone-shaped spinning rotisserie. Add some lettuce, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki, and French fries, and roll it all up in a fresh, warm pita and you’ve got the perfect, portable Greek food.
They may not originally be Greek (sorry, France), but I ate enough of them that they might as well have been. I had this particular Nutella and banana crêpe for lunch, at a waterfront table in beautiful Mykonos. My eyes, heart, and taste buds were happy that day.
Dad: “What do you mean you’re gaining weight? You went on a 9 mile hike today.”
Me: “Yeah, Dad, I hiked 9 miles along the coast of Santorini but then I had an extra large gelato for dinner.”
Speaking of hikes, this photo was taken during our victory meal, post-16-mile-hike through the mountains of Delphi. Yes, that croissant was bigger than my head. Yes, it was filled with Nutella. Yes, I did, in fact, eat the whole thing.
Alright, my secret’s out… I spent about half my time in Greece in bakeries. But take a look at this baklava — layers of phyllo dough, filled with a thick, gooey mixture of nuts and honey. Can you really blame me?
8. Greek Yogurt
Dannon? Yoplait? I mean, I love you guys… but you’re not REAL Greek yogurt. If you haven’t had actual Greek yogurt from Greece, topped with fresh fruit, honey, or Nutella (or all three), then you haven’t lived. I had a bowl every morning for breakfast, trust me. It was probably my favorite Greek food.
Think lasagna, but with a Greek twist. I’m a pasta lover, so this dish, with long, tube-shaped noodles, cheese, ground beef, and a slight cinnamon flavor, was right up my alley.
There’s one important thing you should know about Greece: even the “fast food” is pretty healthy. Souvlaki comes in many forms — chicken, lamb, on a dinner plate with pita and tzatziki, with French fries, or right on the skewer with a backdrop of the blue and white houses of Mykonos.
Greece, man. I miss it.