2014 Food & Travel Expo Speaker Thei Zervaki on Where to Eat in Greece
Thei Zervaki will speak about specialty foods in the Cyclades islands at the 2014 Food & Travel Expo. We asked her how to take a culinary trip to Greece.
Thei Zervaki shares her culinary adventures on her blog www.fullybooked.biz, is a regular food contributor for Southern Hospitality Magazine and whets appetites with cultural tastes for her Just Try It column. She also writes for the Huffington Post, CNN Travel, Harbors Magazine and other outlets. Thei is a scout for trendy and weird foods, organizes culinary tours in Greece and Seattle and enjoys a glass of Assyrtiko in hot and humid nights.
1. Where should foodies go when they visit Greece?
They should definitely visit Thessaloniki, the "food" capital of the country. The Greek islands offer a unique and rich culinary tradition. Each area in the country has something else to offer so foodies have to do their research and identify first where they want to go and what foods to try.
2. What foods or dishes should foodies be sure to try when they go?
There are so many tasty dishes in the country and amazing flavors. The difference for Americans who travel to Greece is that they are used to eating Greek food introduced by Greek-Americans which is not exactly the same found in Greece.
The traditional dishes that everybody should try is a pita gyros sandwich (made with pork); the Greek salad; the traditional Greek "koulouri"; cheese pie; the real Greek yogurt; ouzo with appetizers for sure. I would have a frappe coffee and I also recommend to visit at least one bakery and one taverna.
3. Are there any food events foodies should plan their trip around?
Not really. I would suggest to decide on where to go, then do some research on local food events. Most areas offer culinary tours so this is a good beginning to experience local dishes and ingredients. Greek food has a world reputation based on its qualities and flavors. Try to avoid very touristic areas and buy foods from stores/restaurants popular with the locals.
4. What's the biggest difference between the Greek food scene and the American food scene?
There are two different countries in size and food culture. Therefore, the foods offered are completely different. I would say that the Greek food scene is less international compared to the American. The Greek food has been modernized the last decade and has introduced elements from world cuisines however, the core ingredients are always the same- Greek olive oil, fresh vegetables, red meat, fresh fish and wine. Greek people are less open to international dishes and slightly more conservative to trying new foods -probably as most Mediterranean cultures.
5. What will you be speaking about at the 2014 Food & Travel Expo?
We will explore distinctive flavors, tastes and ingredients of the Cyclades like fava, the yellow split pea, capers, chickpeas, sweet tomatoes, cheeses and pastries not found in other parts of the country. I will share recipes, samples and highlights of Cyclades rich culinary history.