Prior to spending half of May in Greece as part of a study abroad trip, I'll admit that I didn't know too much about Greek food. Other than gyros, Greek salad and baklava, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. While two weeks wasn't nearly enough time to delve deep into the country's cuisine, I attempted to try anything and everything. Here's what I thought compared to American versions or counterparts.


sandwich, beef, pork, steak
Li Stalder

Before traveling to Greece, I can only remember eating gyros maybe a handful of times. Looking back now, I'm not sure why. However, I made up for the lack of gyros in my life while I was in Mykonos and Santorini. A gyro made for a perfect, cheap lunch (usually only 2-3 euro), but the low price didn't mean bad quality either. I didn't have a single gyro that wasn't fresh. 

#SpoonTip: If you ever find yourself in Fira, Santorini, try a pork gyro from Yogi Gyros—hands down, the best one I had on my trip.

Greek Salad

salmon, salad, tomato, cheese
Li Stalder

For me, lettuce in salads has always been the norm, so imagine my surprise when leafy greens did not appear in a traditional Greek salad. Instead, it just consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, feta cheese, oregano seasoning and olive oil. With its simplicity, it may not seem like it was filling enough for dinner, but I was actually quite full by the time it was all in my stomach. 


Li Stalder

Pretty general, I know. But somehow the seasoning on chicken fillets over there make it taste 10x better than here and the stunning scenery only adds to the whole dining experience.

Another popular traditional Greek dish is souvlaki, which is basically meat on a skewer. However, souvlaki is not limited to chicken, as it can consist of pork, lamb, beef or even grilled vegetable pieces. I actually ordered chicken souvlaki at a Greek-American restaurant once I was back in the States, and it just wasn't the same.


strudel, cake, sweet, pastry, dough, bread
Li Stalder

Behold bougatsa. This breakfast pastry has a sweet custard filling, which is wrapped with crunchy layers of phyllo dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. My high school Latin teacher recommended I should try it, so finding a bakery was a high priority for me. Once I got my hands on it, it was pure bougatsa bliss. Dare I say, bougatsa > donuts?


sauce, parmesan, cheese, spaghetti, pasta
Li Stalder

When thinking about pasta, I'd bet everyone would imagine Italy over Greece. However, I was surprised to see pasta on almost every single restaurant menu. Before doing some additional research, I had no idea Greece is one of the largest consumers of pasta- ahead of the United States. It all makes sense now. And I'm glad to say Greek pasta didn't disappoint. 


sauce, lasagna, cheese
Sara Casagrand

While we and the Italians have lasagna, the Greeks have pastitsio and moussaka. Like lasagna, pastitsio is a baked pasta dish that has stacked layers of tubular pasta, ground beef and béchamel sauce. Moussaka is pretty similar to pastitsio, but instead of pasta you've got layers of eggplant. Both dishes slayed my taste buds. 

Studying abroad in Greece helped me get out of my comfort zone when it came to trying new foods. I usually won't admit that I'm a picky eater—but I am—and I have a bad habit of sticking to my favorite meals. I had no expectations and that probably turned out for the best because I was able to fully enjoy it—so much that I thought the food tasted better there than over here.

So, when can I go back?