ATHENS – It’s been a good year for Greek food, which was ranked second in the world behind only Italy – but first on renowned chef Gordon Ramsay’s thinking – and now four Greek treats were among the top 50 in the world.
Both lists came from the site TasteAtlas and found that besides Greece the top dishes were dominated by those from Japan, Brazil, Italy and Turkey and provided plenty of fodder for food fights on the Internet and social media.
The top 5 delicacies were Japanese curry, the Brazilian thick beef cuts Picanha, Portuguese steamed clams with a flavorful sauce that is based on olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, white wine, and fresh cilantro. , and two Chinese dumplings, Tangbao and Guotice.
The Greek winners were Paidakia at 15th, Gyros at 31st, Giouvetsi at 36th and the Bakaliaros cod preparation at 41st. Just missing, coming in 51st in the world was a more divisive dish, Kokoretsi, grilled animal internal organs.
The site described the Greek delicacies this way:
Grilled lamb chops are a traditional Greek dish that is popular throughout the country and usually enjoyed as the main course. Lamb chops are usually marinated in various combinations of olive oil, lemon juice, and a variety of fresh herbs before they are grilled on traditional charcoal barbecues. They are commonly paired with potatoes, salads, or the creamy and refreshing tzatziki sauce.
Gyros is one of the most popular Greek street food dishes, consisting of meat such as pork and chicken (in Greece) or lamb and veal (popular in other countries) cooked on a vertical spit. The meat is sliced in thin shavings and is then usually placed in a pita bread along with sauces such as tzatziki and vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and cucumbers.
Gyros is derived from the Greek word gheereezo, meaning to turn, referring to the constantly rotating vertical spit on which the meat is cooked. Some believe that gyros originated during the time of Alexander the Great, when his soldiers skewered the meat on their swords and cooked it over a fire.
Others claim that gyros was introduced to Greece in 1922, with the refugees from Constantinople and Smyrna. Many of the refugees became merchants and opened their shops with tiny holes in the wall, where gyros was sold. After WWII, gyros gained popularity and spread to Europe, Australia, and the United States. Today, gyros is known as one of the most popular street food varieties around the world.
This classic Greek casserole consists of a combination of pasta and tomato-braised meat that is prepared as a one-pot oven dish. Although veal is the traditional choice, various types of meat may be employed, while the rich tomato sauce is usually seasoned with cinnamon, allspice, red wine, cloves, and bay leaves.
Tradition suggests using two types of pasta, the small-sized orzo or the square-shaped hilopites, and topping the casserole with a layer of grated cheese. Giouvetsi, named after Turkish earthenware, is a common meal served on large family gatherings and various festive occasions.
Though the term bakaliaros refers to cod fish, Greeks mainly use it to describe golden and crispy cod fritters. Whether it employs salt or fresh cod, the dish can be made with batter-fried pieces of cod or flaked cod that is then incorporated into a thick batter.
The fritters are mainly served as a meze dish, and when accompanied by a thick, garlicky sauce, they usually go under the name bakaliaros skordalia. Although they are eaten throughout the year, cod fritters are usually associated with a celebration that commemorates the Annunciation of Virgin Mary and the War of Independence, which is celebrated each year on March 25th.