Wicked Wednesday–Favorite Greek Dishes

Olive and Let Die CoverWe all know that Greek food is to die for, right? Today, we continue our celebration of Susannah Hardy’s latest release, Olive or Let Die.

So tell us, Wickeds–What’s your favorite Greek food? Greek restaurant? Where did you first eat Greek food?

Liz: I worked with a woman years ago who had married into a Greek family. Though she no longer was, her two children enjoyed the traditional food, so she continued to cook and bake it. And lucky for our office, she brought in lots of goodies. I have no idea what half the things were called, but they were all delightful – and she made a mean baklava!

Jessie: As far as I know, I’m not Greek. When I was a child I had a friend named Cassie whose father was Greek. Her grandmother simply would not believe I wasn’t Greek too. Every time she visited my friend she would ask “How’s your little Greek friend.” Cassie would reply, “Yaya, she’s not Greek!”. Yaya would shake her head and say, “It’s so sad when folks forget their own people.”

SpanakopitaOne day Cassie called to tell me Yaya was visiting and insisting that I come over. She was teaching Cassie how to make Spanakopita, an astonishingly delicious spinach and feta pie-type dish. Yaya said every good Greek girl needed to know how to make it and that included me. How could I refuse? I still have the recipe card written in my twelve-year-old handwriting in my recipe box. I’m still not Greek but I do make a mean Spanakopita. Thanks, Yaya!

2010-09-09 22.01.15
Marios just a few years ago.

Edith: One of my best friends in grad school was a big guy named Marios Fourakis. He realized he couldn’t afford to eat out, so he wrote his mother in Thessaloniki and asked for her recipes. What a treat to go to Marios’s house for dinner. Much bourbon would be consumed, and we wouldn’t eat until about ten PM, but then we’d have avgolemono, broiled lamb bones with oregano, or homemade (including the phyllo dough) cheese and meat and spinach spanakopita. Died and gone to heaven!

moussakaBarb: Your reminisces made me remember that when I was young I babysat for a doctor whose family name was Christopoulis. The husband’s mother used to send them the best baklava! But really, I don’t remember eating much Greek food until my post-college trip that included Greece. Everything was fresh and local. The salads had no lettuce, just the best tomatoes, peppers, onions, feta, ever. But my favorite was moussaka. Oh my. Like I’d died and gone to foodie heaven. I did eventually learn to make it myself, though I haven’t in a long while. Just typing this is making me hungry.

indexSherry: The first Greek food I made was baklava and found it wasn’t really that hard  — using store bought phyllo. I’m not sure when I first ate Greek food — sometime well into adulthood — but it was, as they say, love at first bite. When we lived in San Pedro, California there was a wonderful Greek restaurant called Papadakis. We walked in and a handsome man (Mr. Papadakis) took my hand, kissed it, and then led us to our table. The food was excellent but the atmosphere made it even better.

Julie: Jessie, I know what you need to make on the next Orchard retreat! Favorite Greek food? I really can’t. Especially real Greek food, where even a salad is a delightful palette experience. I love fresh feta, good baklava, real pita, stuffed grape leaves. Is there bad Greek food?

Readers: What’s your favorite Greek food? Greek restaurant? Where did you first eat Greek food?

31 Thoughts

  1. Years ago my Mom and Dad had neighbors who were Greek. She did make her own phyllo dough and the best Spanakopita. My mouth is watering at all these wonderful Greek dishes.

      1. OK, I have never tried making my own phyllo, though I have made German streudel pastry, which is similar. My project for the winter: master phyllo! Bonus: spanakopita, baklava, or tiropita (an all-cheese version of spanakopita) on the menu. (See book 3 when it comes out!)

  2. My favorite is spanakopita too. I first had Greek food on a wonderful tour of Greece back in the seventies. Love moussaka and stuffed grape leaves.. I’m lucky to live a few miles from Tarpon Springs, Florida’s own little bit of Greece. So about once a month I get to experience the unique deliciousness of real Greek food!

  3. After college, a girlfriend and I backpacked through Europe. We started out in London and worked our way through Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Yugoslavia. Yes, it was Communist Yugoslavia then, and it was kind of scary, with a strong military presence. We never got off the train, but went straight through to northern Greece, then worked our way down to the islands. Can I just say I’m pretty sure Heaven looks a lot like Greece. The food is amazing, the land is stunning, and so are the people–especially the men. Even the men you might not consider classically beautiful (not that I saw many of those, but again, I was in my early 20s and in an exotic place–everybody was beautiful 🙂 ) were magnetic and charming. I ate rabbit and grape leaves and tomato, onion and feta salads and my favorite thing, gigandes, which are giant beans cooked in olive oil, tomato sauce. Reminiscing about this makes me want to call up my friend Laurie and book a trip to Greece right this minute!

    1. I made an after college trip around Europe, too, that included Athens and several Greek Islands. In addition to everything you observed, I also noticed constantly the Greeks were LOUD. The music on the ferry, the passengers gossiping and arguing and yelling a their kids. It was a shock to my system. Of course, that’s before I married into a big Italian family, LOL.

    1. Mmmmmm. I love spanakopita. So healthy with all that spinach (conveniently not thinking about the butter). I wonder if Popeye was actually Greek? He was a sailor and his girlfriend’s name was Olive Oyl. Must think deep thoughts on this…

  4. Oh dear, I can’t remember any Greek restaurants I’ve been to. Send me to Greece, now! My daughter makes a mean spanakopita, which may explain the four packages of phyllo in my freezer. And I do love baklava!

  5. We attend a Greek fest at a local Greek Orthodox church each year. Excellent food: baklava, of course, spanakopita, gyros with tzatziki sauce, chicken schwarma….I love a Greek salad with lots of feta and grilled chicken. Now I’m starving!Thanks a lot, Wickeds.

  6. I used to live about a mile from a Greek Orthodox church, and would always go to their festival. My favorite treat there was loukoumathis (spelling?) — puffs of dough drowned in honey. They were so delicious — a sticky mess to eat, but they melted in my mouth. Moussaka and spanakopita are also among my favorites. There’s a little hole in the wall restaurant near where I live now that has the best moussaka, and very good tabbouleh (I know, not really Greek, but they serve it anyway). Now I know where I’m going for lunch!

    1. I’m not sure what the correct spelling is, either, but I do know that delicious dessert you’re talking about. The Greeks like their desserts, and their coffee, extra sweet! I love tabbouleh too.

  7. There’s a huge Greek food festival in the town next to me every year, hosted by the Greek Orthodox church, of course. It’s so crowded I never get there. Used to work with a guy who was Greek. He’d have a huge open house party every year on his birthday with the most amazing array of foods (I never did cotton on to stuffed grape leaves, though).

    Mmm, baklava. Grilled lamb. A good gyro. Now I’m hungry.

  8. In 1976, we visited Greece, and my husband fell in love with a lamb shank dish, a basic dish with tomato sauce and rosemary. I figured how hard can it be, so we experimented with lamb shanks, onions, tomatoes and rosemary–and it turned out good. Serve it over orzo and peas. It is one of the few dishes that my husband can make, so if he is willing to cook, I’m willing to eat it frequently.

    1. That’s the great thing about most Greek food–it’s usually pretty simple, with the exception of more complicated dishes like moussaka and pastitsio. That’s awesome you are able to recreate your delicious dish. Now I am super hungry!

  9. I don’t eat a lot of Greek food. I’m not sure why because I enjoy it. Heck, maybe some of what I’m thinking of would just be Mediterranean food. I enjoy pitas when stuffed with delicious food. And I’ve found that I enjoy lamb, although that might be the seasoning more than the meat itself.

  10. cj Sez: Loved that tasty article. There’s a Greek Orthodox Church in Mobile, AL, that holds a Greek Fest every year. EVERYTHING is homemade and to die for. My whole family eats themselves silly and waddle back to the car with bags of goodies. They can’t serve saganaki in a tent, so I’ve been missing that flaming cheese taste sensation since I left Detroit and its wonderful Greek Town restaurants.

  11. Yum, now I am hungry again. My favorite Greek food – hand’s down gyros. Are they even Greek? I don’t know but I love the combination of tastes. I was introduced to Greek food at a friend’s house, her parents were from Greece, I think she was born there–at any rate, one day the invited me over for mousaka. It was love at first bite. I have never been able to replicate the recipe–her mother shared it, but it was some of this and a little of that–heaven on a fork.

  12. I remember the time I was working at a dept. store and some sailors came down to the men’s department and were speaking rapidly. I was so confused because it sounded like Italian but I couldn’t understand a work. My boss said, “No, these guys are Greeks, into the harbor for a few days.” Decades later, gyros! @LatelaMary

    1. Oh my goodness, I have a Greek sailors story too! When I was on that trip after college I commented about above, my friend and I were on a ferry headed for one of the islands. And on this ferry were 300 Greek sailors about to go on shore leave (also see prior comment about Greek men, LOL!). And I was as seasick as I’d ever been. I ended up belowdecks with a mom and her baby. The mom took pity on me and gave me some saltines. Meanwhile, my friend was up above, having an awfully good time flirting with the sailors. Sigh.

  13. My high school physics lab partner was Greek. He’d go home at lunch and bring back Greek cookies to get me to do his work for him. It worked! Seattle has two Greek Orthodox churches, so I took Greek cooking lessons. I always go to the bazaars to see friends, have dinner, and buy cookies. For a long time, my son thought we belonged to the church because it was his favorite.. A Greek restaurant I like is Costas in Seattle. My favorite food is Tiropita, which I make myself.

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