I’m in the mom’s kitchen and I try to think of something to eat. Knowing that the traditional Corfu food is full of pasta, spices and vegetables I notice that the kitchen cupboards are full of all those things. As I am characterized by my indecisiveness and I am not down to hearing my parent’s complaining about anything I decide to write down my thoughts about the famous traditional corfiot cuisine.
Being a typical Corfiot family we enjoy food at its best, like every Corfiot has since the beginning of time and we always enjoy having a good company of people over for lunch or dinner. The citizens of Corfu are famous for being welcoming and generous when it comes to matters such as food and taking care of their guests. Also, Corfiots are the first who ever tried potatoes, legumes, cocoa and spices, thanks to the Venetians. During the Renaissance, Venice was the main merchant of spices in Europe, something that caused great influence on the corfiot cuisine and the culinary habits of the natives of Corfu.
Corfiot cuisine is mostly Mediterranean, with its main characteristics being olive oil, vegetables, pasta and spices. Everyday dishes are often accompanied by fresh greens that the housewives personally peak from their gardens or the mountains. Some of the foods that are based on vegetables are vastly cooked and served in corfiot cuisine are briam, mousakas (mousakas is a Greek food in general not just a Corfiot one), tsigareli, pumpkin pie, village salads (that also can be called Greek Salads).
Like most of the places in the world, Corfu as well has its own traditional corfiot cuisine. The first and most characteristic traditional food is called “tiganites tou Agiou” and it is a pancake like candy, shaped in little balls that is eaten with honey and cinnamon mostly and it is cooked on the 11th of December when the Patron Saint Of Corfu (Agios Spiridon, Saint Spiridon) is celebrated.
On Christmas day, tradition has it that avgolemono (a yellow soup made from eggs and accompanied with rice) is cooked in every household on the island. When there are festivities at the households the traditional dish pastitsada (pasta with spicy red sauce and rooster or beef) is cooked.
During Easter week, on the night of the Resurrection, chilichourda (the intestines of lamb with either red or white sauce) is that traditional food on every family’s table. On other occasions for religious festivities dishes such as bakaliaros skordalia (cod with mushed potatoes, olive oil and garlic), barbarela and koukloura (two types of pancakes), sperna (boiled wheat with cinnamon, black raisins, aniseed, almonds, coriander, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and sugarplums altogether covered in white sugar .
Another traditional dish of corfiot cuisine is savouro, which basically is the way fish is cooked and maintained in vinegar, salt, thick salt, olive oil, rosemary and caper. Savouro used to be the food of the poor citizens and of the fishmongers. At this point I should point out that the thick salt that was bought in big quantities from the salt pits , was used to maintain food and to dry vegetables under the sun (dried tomatoes and peppers).
During the summer the places where tourists could go and eat something from the traditional corfiot cuisine are places with strictly Corfiot cuisine, taverns, fast foods, fish taverns or Italian, Chinese and Mexican restaurants and pizzerias. Italian food is definitely the one Corfiots are most likely to have, since it is closer to the Corfiot tradition and they are more familiar with pasta. In the fish taverns you can have fresh fish straight from the sea, cooked in many ways, such as fried , on charcoal , bianco (with white sauce) or bourdeto (with red sauce).
Favorite fish on the island is stakofitsi , it a dried cod cooked with hot red sauce. Generally though, the most famous traditional corfiot cuisine both for locals and visitors , is pastitsada which as I have mentioned already is pasta with red sauce, spices and rooster or beef . Another famous food that is also served with pasta is manestra kolopimpiri cooked with orzo , pepper and tomato sauce . One more traditional food is strapatsada, a dish with eggs with red sauce and feta cheese.
When it comes to traditional Corfiot sweets, kumquat is a big part of corfiot cuisine and is used to make a sweet that in Greek is called “spoon sweet” is the most traditional one of them all. Spoon sweets are like marmelaid but the difference is that the fruits used to make them aren’t mooshed but intead either cut to little pieces or used in their original size and they have a kind of syroup. They are called spoon sweets because they are served in a spoon full of the sweet. Christopsoma (they are like pancakes), fogatses (a bread-like sweet) with a red egg in the middle. Sikomaida (fig pie, with aniseed and ouzo) and mantoles, traditional almonds filled sweets.
It’s worth mentioning that the local products of Corfu are mainly used in the corfiot cuisine. Those products are ginger beer, local beer, nouboulo, sausages, butter, cremes, milk, yogurt, mantoles and mantolato. Ginger beer helps digestion , there are many special tastes of the local beer. Nouboulo is the local deli meat (else called Corfiot prosciutto) made from pork marinated with red wine , smoked wrapped over aromatic plants .
After long thought I figured I should take my parents about to a fish tavern , have some fresh fish with local white wine that matches with the fish and enjoy the sea… We are in Corfu after all, we should at least enjoy the beautiful cuisine, the breathtaking landscapes, the sun and the beach…!