Pelion: the mountain of centaurs and... foodies

Pelion: the mountain of centaurs and... foodies

Some destinations are equally enchanting all year round in Greece, and Pelion is undoubtedly one of them. It is recommended both for lovers of the sea and the mountain which can even be enjoyed with a sea view! Pelion is a destination that never disappoints. Whichever village you find yourself in, you will discover a hidden fascination, beautiful sights, breathtaking nature, and hospitable people. It's safe to say, then, that it won't be just one time you visit.

 

And, of course, as every place stands out for its gastronomy, so does Pelion. Because a trip without culinary delights is entirely... tasteless. Pelion cuisine is based not on luxuries but on simple primary ingredients: aromatic herbs, greens, fern shoots, asparagus, tsitsiravla, mushrooms, chestnuts, walnuts, etc. Wonderful vegetables and aromatic herbs arrive on our table from the gardens of Pelion. At the same time, local meats from domestic animal production and fish from the Aegean and Pagasitikos Gulf seas abound and are combined in original and unique ways, seducing even the most demanding palates! The simplest of dishes, such as greens in tomato sauce with sunny-side-up eggs, a recipe born from the farmers' need to eat something to fill them up before working in the fields, can be transformed into a sensational gastronomic experience!

 

The most famous of Pelion's dishes is the spetzofai, made from local country sausage, green peppers, and tomatoes. There are all kinds of pies: meat pies, leek pies, pies stuffed with mushrooms, mountain greens and local meat, spinach and feta pies, lazy pies (easy Greek yogurt and feta cheese savory pie without phyllo or pastry) ... And let us not forget the beloved sweet pumpkin pie and milk pie which, as they come out of the oven steaming, diffuse the nostalgic aroma of childhood in the air...

 

The tsipouradika restaurants serve seafood and fish, and tradition has it that the "good" dishes arrive at the table after several rounds of tsipouro... The more the company drinks, the more refined and sophisticated the appetizers. Very popular are also the crawfish pasta, especially in the villages of South Pelion, as well as the grilled fish with tsichiravla and the fish soup.

 

Spoon sweets are very much loved in Pelion, and serving them is a ritual. Among others, famous Pelion spoon sweets are sour cherry, walnut, chestnut, fig, apricot, pumpkin, baby eggplant, baby tomato, strawberry, chokeberry (a type of blueberry), and, of course, the apple firiki from which is also produced the iron-rich, fragrant aroma and colorful jam that is just the thing for topping waffles and ice cream!

 

Here, of course, it is worth mentioning the local drink, keraso, which is cherry wine made from cognac (or brandy), sour cherries, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon, which is known in Pelion as the first-class remedy for colds. Less well known but no less interesting are also two other homemade liqueurs, the tonic made from green walnuts and the drink made from apricot pits, while aromatic herbs, honey, various kinds of preserves, and tsipouro (with or without aniseed) are just some of the local products worth taking with you.

 

 

The most fertile mountain in Greece is full of products with a designation of origin (PDO) such as apples from Zagora, Pelion's firiki, olives, and cheeses with a unique texture and taste such as manouri, kasseri, batzos, feta, and galotiri. The chestnuts of Pelion are considered among the best in the world, and it is an absolute pleasure to eat them roasted, next to the fireplace, with good company and a glass of fine red wine! The honey, of fantastic quality, is full of nutrients not found in honey from other countries. Greece's vivifying sun is the source of life itself, which is why our country produces some of the best products in the world!

 

Ten delicacies not to be missed

 

1. First and foremost, the most famous dish in Pelion is the spetzofai, a typical dish prepared with local sausage made of goat, sheep, pork meat, tomato sauce, green peppers, and at least one spenza (hot pepper). Don't miss its different variations with Volos' kasseri cheese, which is a great addition to the taste, meatballs, or even cuttlefish!

 

2. Tsitsiravla are the edible young shoots of the wild peanut tree (Pistacia terebinthus) harvested in April, pickled with vinegar and a little garlic, and served as a snack in all homes and all tsipouradika!

 

3. Boubari is a type of local sausage made from beef offal and rice and is mainly eaten in winter and on holidays. It is sold by local butchers in coils, cooked in the oven, and accompanied by potatoes.

 

4. The spicy kopanisti from Volos made with hot pepper, garlic, and tomato paste will awaken your senses with its strong smoky flavor and will light up your table with its vivid orange-red color!

 

5. Kolitsiani, or anemones of the sea, as they are called, are fried in batter and served only in the traditional tsipouradika of Volos. Their unique taste enchanted those who tried them!

 

6. The firiki apple variety, this miniature apple with the pink flesh and the delicate taste that grows only on the slopes of Pelion, is made into compote, spoon sweets, and even molasses.

 

7. White baklava, the king of all sweets, is made with almonds instead of walnuts and is served at weddings, but many tavern owners offer it at the end of the meal.

 

8. Another dessert you should try is the famous Melahrini (Brunette), a walnut pie made in Volos and all over Pelion. It is a syrupy delight, available in a fasting/vegan version as well.

9. If you find yourself in the center of Volos, go for a walk at 135 Gazi Street, near the Courthouse. There you will find a small workshop where you can buy the well-known and beloved to all the residents of Volos must lokums of Pappou (Grandpa), a third-generation specialty filled with walnuts.

 

10. Finally, before you leave Volos, don't forget to get the famous handmade halva of Papagiannopoulos (right behind the Tax Office) for which queues form, especially during Lent! You should also try his tahini.

 

Anyway, one thing is guaranteed: you will leave Volos and Pelion with the best culinary —and not only— memories engraved in your mind!

 

Category: Gastronomy
Interest: Gastronomy
January 12, 2022
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