Well everyone has heard about the benefits of the Mediterranean cuisine in general, and how rich and tasty the traditional Greek cuisine is in specific, basing its diet on the following three basic principles: Variety, Moderation and Balance. But what about its street food? By far the most popular Greek street food is Souvlaki, probably recognizable globally.
To begin with, besides being synonymous with Greek food, souvlaki has a very long history. Its name comes from the Greek word souvla (meaning skewer), which in turn originates from Latin subula. Even before, its earliest version was called obeliscos (meaning skewer as well) with many references even in ancient texts, such as Homer’s Iliad and Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists, and were sold in the streets at places called thermopolia.
Todays’ thermopolia are called souvlatzidika, and the basic modern version of souvlaki is marinated chunks of meat grilled on a skewer, that can be eaten plain on a stick or served along with sliced tomato, onion and a few French fries, dressed in yogurt or tzatziki (a key ingredient the main ingredients of which are yogurt, cucumber and garlic), all wrapped up in pita bread. The meat can be pork, chicken, beef, lamb or it can even be omitted in a vegetarian version.
Somewhat confusing might seem the difference between souvlaki and gyro. The word gyro, which means spinning around, refers to the way the meat is cooked rotating slowly on a vertical rotisserie, so that the fat drips away and the final result is a crunchy but at the same time moisty meat, thinly sliced and served either wrapped into the pita bread with the rest of the ingredients or on a plate.
The variations are numerous, since upon ordering you may feel free to add or leave out practically any ingredients you like. Experts agree that the secret is in the tzatziki or the yogurt dressing, but mostly in the meat marinade (all the herbs and spices used), which constitutes the seven-sealed secret of every respectful souvlatzidiko. So since souvlaki is easy to find almost in every corner, you can try many different ones until you find your personal favorite.
To conclude, the most popular greek delicacy, the king of greek street food seems to sum up all the basic principles of greek cuisine and culture, in the most simple, convenient, tasty and cost-effective solution. It’s even kind of sexy in a way, depending of course on how many you eat. So you can moderately succumb the temptation, since satisfaction is guaranteed.