Everyone and their mom know that Greece equals culture and amazing scenery; history and beauty blend together to form a marvelous, memorable experience. Alas, the Greek cuisine is equally -if not more- famous. Walking around a Greek city, you are sure to find great food with a huge variety of dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nevertheless, one thing that a lot of people don’t realize is how sweet Greece really is. Living in an ancient, small country, natives carry and impart their heritage from generation to generation and a big part of this knowledge is old recipes of cakes, cookies, spoon sweets, and other wonderful desserts.
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Greek ravani cake - credits: Alexander Narraina/Shutterstock.com
Cake is a very common food that gets served as dessert, breakfast, and, sometimes (If you're naughty), dinner for people all over the world. What makes Greek cakes stand out are their unique recipes that mostly use Greece’s produce. Locals in every city, town, and village bake the most delicious cakes, using nuts and fruits, and, in this way, creating incredible and healthy delicacies.
One of the greatest cake-like foods that you can ever taste is the flavorful cake with syrup, called ravani. Ravani is made from semolina it is drenched in orange syrup, and it is perfectly combined with ice cream. For the jam lovers, the Greek jam tart is a must. From the first bite, you can taste the freshness of the organic, hand-picked fruits that have been used to create this scrumptious dessert.
Traditional Greek new year’s cake known as vasilopita with a lucky coin inside - credits: Athina Psoma/Shutterstock
Last but not least, if you find yourself in Greece during the holiday season and specifically Christmas, you are lucky! The Greek New Year’s cake, called Vasilopita, is a seasonal treat that everyone has to savor, made by following an old, religious tradition. Greek families gather together on New Year’s Eve to celebrate. Then, they cut the cake in pieces and each family member gets a piece. The cake, though, contains a coin and whoever finds the coin in their piece, is considered to be blessed with luck for the whole year.
Greek Spoon Sweets
Greek cherry spoon sweet - credits: Marie C Fields/Shutterstock.com
A single visit to a Greek house will probably lead to someone offering you a small, decorated, glass plate with syrup on it. The treat is considered too sugary, so it is served by the spoonful. Spoon sweets are simple to make and wonderful to taste. The recipe consists of water, seasonal fruits, and, of course, sugar. By combining these simple components, Greek people create a flavor like no other. The variety of Greek produce allows the creation of numerous, different spoon sweets, however, the versatility of the Greek cuisine doesn’t stop there; spoon sweets can also be used as a topping for yogurt or cakes.
Greek Christmas Cookies
Traditional Christmas kourabiedes and melomakarona - credits: stella/Shutterstock.com
Christmas is a great time to visit Greece. Strolling around the buzzing streets, admiring the ornaments of Christmas trees, and experiencing the holiday season, you are sure to detect the aroma of the Greek Christmas butter cookies. Butter cookies, otherwise called “kourambiedes,” are covered in confectioner’s sugar, which might not be the healthiest of choices, it does, however, give them an unparalleled flavor. The Greek Christmas honey cookies called “melomakarona,” are usually made from semolina, scented with cinnamon and orange juice and drizzled with lots of honey. The combination of these local flavors can take you on a quick tour around the Greek holiday traditions and their mouthwatering taste!
Traditional Greek sweets
Greekbougatsa - credits: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.com
Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece, often considered by some the cultural and culinary capital of Europe. If you happen to be in Thessaloniki, stop everything you're doing and rush off to taste bougatsa, a custard pie with phyllo dough that is usually served as breakfast and is a definite locals’ favorite. In the Greek pastry shops of Thessaloniki, you can also taste a Greek rice pudding called rizogalo. You can thank us later.
Tip: Bougatsa or rizogalo are two of the 15 different tastings of Greek food that you can enjoy during our Athens Food Tour. *Wink wink*
Traditional Greek pastries
The traditional dessert of loukoumades - credits: foodlove/Shutterstock.com
Of course, you cannot visit a Greek city, village or island and leave without eating some of the most well-known Greek desserts. These Greek honey puffs, known as loukoumades, are small, deep fried balls of dough with honey on top. If done right, the honey puffs are crispy, golden, and sweeter than Greece’s sunset.
Greek baklava - credits: Alp Aksoy/Shutterstock.com
Greek halva is a vegan semolina pudding with raisins that takes you on a trip at flavortown. Depending on the region of Greece it is produced, Greek halva can also be flour-based or sesame-based. Either way, it is a healthy treat that you are going to love. Traditional baklava is one of the sweetest remnants of the Ottoman Empire. A sweet pastry made of hundreds of very thin layers of phyllo, filled with nuts and covered with syrup. Baclava is probably the most famous Greek dessert in the world, and for a good reason; you can almost taste heaven in one single bite of this pastry.
The history, tradition, and beauty of Greece cannot be contained in museums. It is found everywhere around the country and especially in its culinary tradition. Greek pastries and sweets carry the smell and flavor of the authentic Greek experience. Exploring the country, without tasting its gastronomic excellence is a job half-done; Greece’s flavors will introduce you to a whole new, deliciously sweet world!