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Rovies Food Festival Draws on Evia’s Ancient Gastronomic Heritage

Medieval Tower of Rovies, Evia, Greece.
Rovies food festival draws on Evia’s ancient gastronomic heritage, sustainable food consumption practices and farm-to-table culture. Above: The Medieval Tower of the village. Credit: Paula Tsoni

A new food festival to launch in the village of Rovies, northern Evia, Greece, on September 1-3, is aspiring to promote sustainable food consumption practices from the past through a series of interactive gastronomic activities for guests.

The schedule is built around local produce and the gastronomic heritage of Evia island, which goes back thousands of years, from ancient olive groves mentioned by Strabo in the 1st century to Byzantine recipes.

“Rovies food festival is based on the principles of sustainability, which the elder knew well and taught us. They would not throw anything away and would consume what they produce, farm-to-table, respecting the environment and their family,” the event’s description explains.

Rovies food festival kicks off with sea-to-table diving and tasting experience

Festival guests will have the opportunity to participate in a unique diving experience in the waters of the Gulf of Evia on the afternoon of September 1.

Participants will dive in the sea of Rovies from Argonauta Diving Resort and later prepare sea urchin salad and fresh fish carpaccio on the beach, with local herbs from Anemoia restaurant’s garden.

They will also learn about the seafood and fish of the region, as well as practical tips how to shop a fresh catch.

Ancient historian Thucydides described how the Gulf of Evia was formed by one of the first tsunamis on record around 427 BC.

“By swimming or diving here, you are diving into a living piece of geological history,” the festival’s website states.

Rovies seafront, Evia, Greece.
View of Rovies seafront. Credit: Paula Tsoni

Byzantine pies, apiculture, and the local Cucina Povera

The following day, guests will be shown how to make traditional recipes from Evia, like the Byzantine-era nettle pie, again in the garden of Anemoia restaurant.

The same activity, starting 11 a.m. on September 2, will feature the local version of Cucina Povera, presenting traditional cooking techniques and recipes from Evia’s rural areas.

At 6 p.m., guests will be able to taste local honeys, learn how to distinguish different qualities and combine each honey with other food items, during a workshop by FaMelaki and local apiarists.

Northern Evia was known for its top quality apiculture since the 15th century, but beekeeping was severely impacted by the devastating wildfires that swept the area in August 2021.

Nonetheless, the natural conditions that emerged after the wildfires, such as the new species of flowers that grew in the ashes, have made local honeys even more special and rare.

The second day of the Rovies food festival will close with local meat tasting at 8 p.m..

The area has been known for its meat produce, from which Evia takes its name, since Homer’s time, some 2800 years ago.

Lambs and goats grown on Evia have a distinct taste thanks to the local biodiversity, such as the sea salt contained in the grass that they feed on. Sustainable growing is also very important to local stockbreeders.

Historic olive grove of Rovies mentioned by 1st-century geographer

The village of Rovies in particular is home to the omonymous historic olive grove which has continued to produce olives since antiquity.

The olive grove of Orovies, as the village was then called, is mentioned by ancient Greek geographer Strabo in the 1st century.

Today, the local cooperative produces Protected Designation of Origin olives which are naturally processed and pickled in brine.

On September 3, at 10 a.m., an organic olive oil tasting will take place, where guests will learn about the categories and characteristics of olive oil, what defines each olive oil’s quality, and how olive oils are different from each other.

The tasting experience will be followed by the festival’s main event at 11.30 a.m.; a large traditional picnic on the grounds of the historic olive grove, like the villagers used to do in the past.

Traditional picnics saw extended families and neighbors gather to share their food under the trees in groves and orchards on public holidays.

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