I have just returned from a research trip to Halkidiki in northern Greece where I experienced the most wonderful meals.
In Greece you can expect the traditional dishes of fresh feta salads and cheese and spinach pies but in Halkidiki I ate plates of lightly fried courgette slices with fresh tsatsiki; salads of pomegranate seeds, walnuts and goats cheese; freshly grilled tomato, courgette and pepper slices; grilled haloumi slices and the simple desert of loukoumades (doughnut balls drenched in honey and cinnamon).
Honey and olive oil feature a lot in this region’s cuisine. Add that to the locally produced wines and you have the ingredients for a wonderful meal. Meals that can last for hours. The Greeks love the social side of eating. It’s an excuse to get family and friends together to catch up, chat and savour life.
You may notice that I haven’t mentioned meat in the dishes I had. I’m a vegetarian and travelling to different countries can have its difficult moments, but in Greece I do not have to worry. They do eat meat, and my carnivore friends assure me that the meat dishes are very tasty, but they know vegetarian cuisine very well.
The food I ate in Halkidiki was some of the best I have had in Greece. It is said that the healthiest diet is the Mediterranean diet and the healthiest of the Mediterranean is the Greek diet. Halkidiki is proof of that – I ate plenty on my trip but with the healthy menus, good walking and plenty of swimming – I didn’t put on any pounds. A perfect recipe for a good trip!