It was about time to speak about FOOOOD! If you, too, are a food lover then I have good news for you. Thessaloniki is the gastronomical capital of Greece and in this post we will find out why, how to enjoy the city’s delicacies to the fullest and where – which parts of the city – you will increase your chances of shopping the real local products.
There is a famous quote attributed to Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” But what do we mean by saying food exactly? Is it the cereals; the nuts; the vegetables; the legumes? Would you include the herbs; the fruits; the spices? What about the chilled meat products; fish and cold cuts (charcuterie)?
Nature has given us a plethora of goods and we have been anything but sort of imagination in using these gifts to feed; heal and entertain ourselves with all sorts of flavors. To this end, the Greek fauna and flora are truly privileged: Sun, water and a very fertile land. Greece is located in the temperate zone of the planet with four distinct seasons and mild weather conditions that help the local fauna and flora thrive. If we had to summarize it in one sentence, Greece is the country of the onion and garlic, the country of olive oil and wine.
Now, following this long introduction to Greece, let’s shift our attention to Thessaloniki and let’s find out how this city stands on top of the gastronomical tradition of the country.
Thessaloniki has been a cross road of people, cultures, goods and civilization, even, for over two millennia. The second most important city of the Byzantine and Ottoman empire and the co-capital of modern day Greece. From the 15th century onwards, Thessaloniki was the home of the main three monotheistic religions with Muslim, Christian and Jews co-existing harmoniously. All these cultures and people gave to this city an unparalleled multicultural identity with a unique mix of flavor and aromas. With this pre-existing wealthy of flavor plus the addition of modern fusions of flavor and the increasing presence of international cuisines will make probably have you thinking that it is impossible to fully explore the gastronomy of the city within a day or two.
There is a simple one-word answer to your desire to taste all that there is to taste: Meze! The equivalent of Spanish tapas for former Ottoman Empire’s territory (the Balkans, middle east, Greece and North Africa) will allow to you taste lots of food in a single go.
Although, this isn’t an exact rule or something and the truth is that you will find good meze all around the city, for reason of timesaving your best change is to visit the food market of the city and make the most out of your time.
Sooo…? Are you ready to get a first glimpse into the markets of Thessaloniki?