The fourth largest island of the Cyclades, characterized by its historical wealth, its archaeological findings and of course its beautiful and blue beaches, is none other than Paros. One of the most beautiful destinations in the Cyclades.
Although exposed to the Cycladic wind, the island’s soil has a lot to offer and the inhabitants invest in it. Mostly in crops with a strong tolerance to heat and sunlight. Among these are various vegetables such as aubergines, pumpkins, kalfa, grapefruit and beans, varieties that are growing and becoming increasingly known for their quality.
In the cuisine of Paros you will find culinary delights of all the Cycladic islands. In this cultural and culinary centre you will find oily dishes, baked and casserole legumes, many kinds of meatballs cooked with herbs from all over the island and other delicious dishes. Chickpea meatballs, tomato meatballs, pumpkin meatballs, potato meatballs! Savoury and sweet pancakes and dry fritters. Meat in the pot or in the oven, festive-stuffed pâtoudo, various traditional pies and of course fish and seafood fresh from the rich seas of Paros.
Apart from the fine cacavas, the fish here is cooked in many ways. You can find them grilled, fried, and cooked along with vegetables, greens, and even legumes! Of course, grilled octopus is one of the most famous dishes, as well as fur (salted, sun-dried fish), stingray (stingray salad) and chirosa. Also , the poor man’s dish, as the caravoles used to call it, has now become a gourmet delicacy. The specific snails of Paros present a taste challenge not to be underestimated, whether steamed, bubbling, cooked with garlic or stewed.
Mushrooms are also one of the “Define Paros” delicacies, collected by the locals in various parts of the island and counted in 300 species. The best known – and safest – are the spiny or red-spined mushrooms (Pleurotuseryngii) and the asprathras or kufardites (Pleurotuseryngiivar.ferulae). In Lefkes they also collect the pine spines (Lactariussanguifluus). Also very tasty are the coastal agaricus (Agaricuslitoralis), collected on the oak shores, the lardmanite (Agaricusbitorquis) or the bulbous agaricus (Agaricuscampestris) and the ‘anonymous’ agaricus (Agaricusbisporus and Agaricuscupreobrunneus). Many people also collect sponges (Suillusbellinii) or slime moths (Volvariellagloicephala), which are found in large quantities after the rains wherever there are cut grasses. Those who know, also consume the laurels (Vascellumpratense), but only when their clot is still white. Mushrooms are usually eaten flourless and fried or grilled with lemon.
The Mediterranean diet is the foundation of Paros’ gastronomic traditions. Fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, wine, spirits (souma) and cheese products. Fresh sauerkraut, oil cheese, excellent Gruyere and Kefalotyri, Touloumi and Kopanisti cheeses. You can make a top accompaniment for your souma by combining them with delicious Coronese olives, the well-known barley cookies or Parian nuts.
The island offers aromatic herbs such as oregano, sage and thyme, as well as capers and produces sweet honey. The taste and quality of the local “seafood” meats is unparalleled.
The people of Paros managed to take only the benefits of the dry wind, sun and salt and use them in their raw materials for their preservation. Sun-dried tomatoes, fur fish (i.e. sun-dried) and dried figs are all ‘cooked’ by the wind, sun and salt. To be preserved and used later, local sausages and steaks, along with octopus, tuna and stripes are dried outdoors.
In addition to being processed into dried fruit, jams and spoon sweets, figs – which are abundant in summer – are also used stuffed with sesame and almonds. Even wonderful cheeses are stored in tulumi (tulomotyrias), but they can also be preserved in jars such as kopanisti. The must is turned into wine, mustard flour, petimezi, mustoukouloura and mustolukuma, and on rainy days the snails are collected and saved.
“Xinomyzithra” is a traditional Greek dish, usually served as an appetizer or side dish. Paros’ xinomyzithra is a variation of the classic Greek dish, with yoghurt as the main ingredient. It also includes onions, cucumber, olives and other herbs. It is usually served cool and can accompany other dishes such as kebabs or souvlaki.
To make it, the yoghurt is combined with the other ingredients and mixed well. It is then placed in the refrigerator to cool and allow the flavors of the ingredients to combine. Sometimes other ingredients such as black garlic, salt and pepper are added to give it even more flavor. Sour cream is a healthy and refreshing dish, as the yoghurt provides protein and potassium, while the vegetables in it provide fibre and vitamins. It is also rich in flavour and can accompany a wide range of dishes, from meat to fish or salads.
All in all, xinomyzithra is a traditional Greek food with a unique taste. If you visit Paros or other parts of Greece, you will surely find this dish in many local restaurants and taverns.
Each dish is a unique and delicious treat for anyone visiting Paros. The local products are dishes of excellent quality and certainly each one individually and all together are the ultimate culinary experience for every traveller.