This may or may not surprise you – there is more than one national dish of Greece. The country known for its delicious cuisine simply could not choose one dish to represent it.
That’s right. While many countries single out one traditional dish to help define their nation’s identity and self-image, Greece — a country made up of extremely diverse terrain and regional traditions — has a total of six dishes that are considered to be the national dish which represents Greek culture.
These dishes represent Greeks’ love for healthy, local produce and meats, as well as the Greek Orthodox faith, which often dictates what believers can and can’t eat at certain times of the year.
In Greece, the national dishes are gyro, moussaka, souvlaki, magiritsa, kokoretsi and fasolada. All of the dishes have a cultural or historic significance in the country, and each of them are made differently, depending on the region or island in Greece.
National dishes of Greece
Here are some more details about these national dishes that are no doubt already some of your favorite Greek foods.
Gyro might be the most well-known Greek food outside of Greece.
Made with meat, either chicken of pork which is roasted cooked on a vertical rotisserie, and served in a pita, with tomato, onion, tzatziki, lettuce and french fries, a gyro is the perfect all-in-one meal.
Moussaka is another classic Greek dish that’s beloved outside of the country. It is a layered casserole dish made of sautéed eggplant, minced meat, and topped with a rich Béchamel sauce.
The third national dish of Greece is Souvlaki, or grilled pieces of meat on a skewer. This is usually served with pita bread and lemon wedges.
Do not be surprised if your Greek friends ask you if you want souvlaki and then you end up eating a gyro. In some parts of Greece, the word souvlaki can also refer to the soft pita bread stuffed with meat, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki, and French fries.
Souvlaki is thought to date back to ancient times. Archaeological findings and writings clearly show that today’s souvlaki comes from the ancient Greeks.
The origins of souvlaki as slices of meat grilled on a spit date back to ancient Greece. This food, known as obeliskos (the diminutive of obelos – “spit”), was even mentioned in the works of Aristophanes, Xenophon, Aristotle and others.
A dish of bread stuffed with meat which resembles the way pita souvlaki is served today with pita bread was also attested to by Athenaeus in his work “Deipnosophistae.”
This Easter dish is a tradition across the country, although the recipe varies in different regions.
After 40 long days of the Lenten fast with no meat, this is traditionally the first meat-based dish eaten on Easter.
Made from lamb offal and seasoned with onions, dill, butter, rice and avgolemono, it is consumed immediately after the midnight Divine Liturgy in the Greek Orthodox Church.
This national dish of Greece is one of those foods that tastes so good, you’d rather not know what it’s made of.
This rotisserie dish is made of lamb or goat intestines, heart liver and other organ meats wrapped in caul fat (or lace fat) and then by yards of cleaned intestines.
Despite the interesting list of ingredients, kokoretsi is one of the tastiest dishes in Greece, and is definitely worth a try. Trust me.
Made from white beans, olive oil, and vegetables, this dish is eaten year round throughout Greece, and is perfect for the many times throughout the year when the Greek Orthodox faithful are meant to abstain from eating meat.