As the cost of everyday necessities such as gas and groceries has gone up due to the war in Ukraine, the price of souvlaki, a staple of Greek cuisine, has also reached record highs.
The stunning price of souvlaki has hit Greeks hard; once a quick, cheap meal in itself, souvlaki has now become pricier than ever.
While the word “souvlaki” refers to a stick of meat, in many parts of Greece, particularly in Athens, it also refers to a gyro or pieces of shaved meat with tzatziki, French fries, onion, and tomato all wrapped in a pita.
While many everyday Greeks are struggling to keep up with the rising prices of everyday items, they may go for souvlaki as a solution for a cheap meal. However, the cost of the beloved Greek food has increased, as well.
In the past, one could easily find a gyro in Athens for around two euros, making it one of the cheapest fast foods in the city. Kalamakia, or meat skewers, were even cheaper.
Souvlaki prices reach new heights in Greece
Now, due to rising costs of energy and ingredients, the prices of souvlaki have gone up exponentially. In some areas of Athens and Thessaloniki, the country’s largest cities, prices for gyros have nearly reached four euros.
In many places in Athens, gyros now cost around three euros and fifty cents, while the price of kalamakia has reached over two euros.
A restaurant owner told Greek newspaper TA NEA that raising the prices was the only solution for him and many other proprietors.
“Sunflower oil has gone from eight euros to 30, the electric bill has reached 1,800 euros, what can we do,” he stated.
Sunflower oil is a popular cooking oil for frying in Greece, and the country has been hit with a shortage due to the war in Ukraine, as 80% of the world’s sunflower oil comes from Russia and Ukraine.
Additionally, Russia is a dominant energy provider for much of Europe, and the war has caused prices for gas and electricity to skyrocket in Greece and across the continent.
An ancient Greek delicacy
Souvlaki, particularly kalamakia, or meat skewers, is one of the most iconic Greek foods today, but it also has its roots in ancient Greece.
The tendency to put meat on a stick and cook it is likely one of the most common in the world, as cultures all over the planet have their own versions of the dish, but Greeks have certainly perfected it.
Excavations held in Akrotiri on Santorini by professor Christos G. Doumas have unearthed stone barbecue holders for skewers (Greek: krateutai), which were used before the 17th century BC and were popular before the disastrous eruption of the island’s volcano.
Even later on, during the Byzantine era, references describe street vendors selling souvlaki wrapped in pita in Constantinople.
The spectacular krateutai finds show that ancient Greeks were utilizing new meat-cooking methods, which were so completely different from the traditional boiling process of the Neolithic Age, that they could have been called revolutionary almost four millennia ago.