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Food

Local Products of the Dodecanese Islands

The islands of Dodecanese are renowned for their abundance of local products such as wine, honey, meat, and cheese which have established a vibrant economy on the islands. Besides its gastronomical aspects however, the picturesque region of the Dodecanese is famous for its folklore traditions which are evident in every island and traditional village you visit. Part of the cultural heritage is the immense array of works created by the local craftsmen which produce embroideries and ceramic items used as souvenirs.

On the island of Rhodes, where the soil is fertile and sunlight is plentiful, winemaking is the ultimate tradition. With wineries encircling every part of the island producing fine wine labels such as Ilios, Grand Maitre, and the dry red wine Chevalier de Rhodes, there are other small wineries found around the island, particularly in Attaviros and Prophet Elias.

Aromatic herbs in Kalymnos such as thyme, sage, and oregano enhance the honey’s fragrance. Photo by Heather Barnes via Unsplash

Among other products which define Rhodes are olive oil, vegetables (tomato), fruits (watermelon, melon), and dairy.

Another high-quality product of the island is honey, which stars in a Rhodian dessert called melekouni. This treat consists of sesame seeds and aromatic thyme honey, as well as additional ingredients such as almonds, orange and lemon peel, and spices. Considered one of the healthiest and tastiest Greek snacks, melekouni is often found at weddings and christenings.

The sponge divers’ island, Kalymnos, offers a wide selection of products including fish, grapes, honey, fruits, and meat. The locals have combined the dominant culture of Kalymnos with traditional products, and this is evident once you walk around the scenic alleys finding local shops specializing in sponge making. The local honey could also be found in local shops and bakeries.

On the lush hills of Symi, wild local herbs and spices such as sage, thyme, and oregano spread their extraordinary scent all over the area. Similar to Rhodes, Symi produces thyme honey with an abundance of herbal flavor. Since the herbs on the island and widely popular, other products like soaps and olive oil are also scented, creating a distinct essence.

Wild local herbs of Symi include sage, oregano, and thyme. Photo by Calum Lewis via Unsplash

The island of Kos specializes in fine porcelains, ceramics, jewelry, and weaving. Specifically, the villages of Antimahia and Asfendiou focus on handmade weaving. Some of the local tasty dishes are pork cooked with cracked wheat, krasotiri (cheese cooked with wine), xinomizithra (sourced local cheese), zucchini flowers stuffed with rice, and stuffed vegetables. For wine lovers, the best to try in Kos include resinated, white, or sweet red.

The one and only pougia, traditional sweets, are found in Patmos. Made of dough, almonds, and walnuts, topped with sugar and syrup, pougia are a classic choice not to be missed in multiple pastry shops and bakeries across the island. Patmos is also known for its high-quality cheese products. The cheese pie made from a combination of local cheeses will give you a taste of Patmos heaven.

The island of Kos produces fine porcelains, ceramics, jewelry, and weaving. Photo by Bradford Zak via Unsplash

The fishermen’s island, Leros, offers great quantities of fresh fish to its people. Back in the day, due to high volumes of fish on the island, locals were unable to sell them, so instead they salted and dried the fish. Since then, kippered fish is combined nicely with ouzo delicacies in local taverns.

The main local product of Nisyros is soumada, a non-alcoholic, syrupy, almond-based beverage. It is made with a mixture of fresh, locally grown almonds, sugar, and water, which is simmered in sugar. Other Nisyros gems include baby tomatoes and caper leaves, two widely popular choices which accompany traditional Greek dinners. The cheese krasotyri, meaning wine cheese, is a sun-dried cheese that remains in a brine of boiled vinegar and salt until ready.

Leros, known as the fishermen island, offers visitors a unique gastronomic experience. Photo by Jakub Kapusnak via Unsplash
Wine in Rhodes has been made for at least 2,400 years. Photo by Alexandra Torro via Unsplash

 

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