A few pictures of Greek food, so you know what to eat in Greece, where to eat it and especially the difference between popular Greek food and authentic Greek food.
I stumbled upon some travel pictures from 2007 on the Island of Kos in Greece and across the ocean: Bodrum Turkey. Have a look of what happens when you follow a tourist tour, what silly "typical Greek food" they will dish out for the un-savvy tourist and what happens when you go off the beaten track.
When you follow Anthony Bourdain’s travel shows, you will have seen "The Layover" series, where he leaves the airport in search of local food in the next 24 to 48 hours. In order to find the best local food, the rule of thumb is: go eat where you see the locals eating because:
- the food must be very delicious
- the food must be value for money.
The opposite happens when you get loaded into a huge tourist bus, and you get dragged to a humongous restaurant where you can only eat what’s available, because the bus is not going to wait until everybody would have chosen something a la carte. Hence you end up with all kinds of inferior food, and sometimes, the flies are added for free.
Anyway, I took an organized bustour around Kos yesterday. Quite an easy and cheap way to cover vast parts of the little Kos Island. The good part is that you can ask the guide for tips off the beaten track that you can go and discover on another day.
The guide had been living overseas – hence he spoke fluent English -, reached retirement age and pointed out a miraculous water well: when you drink its water, you will become pregnant… Now he is a grandfather, so he should know… I guess. Apart from local legends, I was more interested by the hibiscus flowers and I did notice a few hidden away eateries that could be promising when it comes to good tasting authentic Greek food.
So far for the benefits of a guided bus tour, now for the bad part…The bad part is that an organized bus tour sometimes drags you to a place where the food is worse than what cattle gets fed on a mediocre farm. We ended up with this:
Do you have any idea what this kind of mushy concoction is supposed to be? The answer can be found in the comments… and pay special attention to the comment of Greek chef Litsa Bolontzakis.
You have been warned…
So now you know your chances of eating something delicious on a bus tour are slim, you assume that eating "popular food where the crowd eats", is your best option. So you walk around to the market square, filled with restaurants and all with a similar sign board like so:
- First and foremost, the menu is in English, and
- secondly, it’s exactly like what you could find in a local Greek restaurant nearby you.
So again you fell into a "popular food" tourist trap, although this food is not cooked in mass, so at least it could be better.
So where do you eat in Greece?
Always ask where the locals eat!
Don’t follow the tourist crowd, but go off the beaten track and look for a busy restaurant. Even if what they dish up isn’t catered for your taste buds, at least you will discover and have an idea what the locals are eating. And isn’t traveling all about discovering new things?
You can’t go to wrong with the typical "Greek espresso", better known as Turkish coffee:
Stronger, better and much cheaper than Starbucks…
Greek coffee, Turkish coffee…You will be given a spoon, as much sugar as you want and a glass of water. Normally you can specify: no sugar, medium sugar (1 teaspoon) or a lot of sugar (that’s exactly how I want my coffee: bitter sweet!, like the weather here today…).
It doesn’t take too long to make though and it’s equally strong not to say stronger than an espresso from a machine. It’s the good old way of coffee making :
- roasted coffee bean,
- finely ground,
- normally cooked in a copper or more recently stainless steel little pot with a good handle
- to poor your brew (in a few goes) in an tiny cup… coffee grind included.
As far as I asked and understood the Greek waiter (sign language…): you need 1 to 2 teaspoons of grinded coffee for 250 ml (1 cup) of coffee. I imagine mine was with 2 teaspoons of coffee, anyway, I like a strong brew. However, it is said that the true coffee lovers will stir the brew before they drink it, where I carefully sip the drink without disturbing the grind.
…. Yummies! These Greek pastries are the size of my little thumb and oh so sweet! Lot’s of choices… yummies!
This was a no brainer: a pastry shop filled with locals and treats… delicious treats I might add, but then I do have a sweet tooth…
The only difficult thing now is to share with you where this pastry shop is. Print out the picture of the address below and show it to a local: he will point you out to the exact location, somewhere on the main road in Kos City Centre:
Sipping ice coffee in Turkey
One small ferry trip away from Kos Island, Greece you will step on Turkish land in Bodrum. Here I opted for some icecream with coffee:
- coffee and
- a big dot of whipped cream
When you look at the handle of the spoon, it is hollow, meaning you can use your spoon as a straw or use it to scoop out the icecream.
Summarized: I love traditional Greek food, but it can be tough to find when you follow the tour busses that bring you to popular tourist restaurants. Do your own homework and read recommendations in sites like Travelocity. You could also try local bloggers, but sometimes they get paid to write positive reviews. Of course you can never argue about taste, so there will always be a touch of adventure and luck in order to find the best eateries when traveling.
Do leave a comment when you want to share some delicious places to eat, worldwide!