Greek Gods are masters of many trades, but travel to Corfu and you’ll find that even they can’t compete with this island’s culinary creations. What makes traditional food in Corfu so delightful is its focus on wine, garlic, peppers and olive oil, colourful flavours that complement the island’s mosaic of Mediterranean influences. A holiday to Corfu promises to serve up unforgettable dishes, from the scorpion fish-based bourdeto to the melt-in-the-mouth sofrito. Ready to taste a slice of Corfu? Read on to discover some of their most tempting treats...
Corfu comfort food doesn’t get much better than pastisada. Packed with nutrients and calories, it was created with the purpose of protecting locals from the island’s cold winter temperatures – think the Greek version of a Sunday roast. But that’s where the similarities end. Pasitsada is a tomato-based stew made with beef, veal or poultry and flavoured with garlic, onions, chili peppers, cloves and cinnamon. It’s then poured over any kind of pasta that takes your fancy, from penne or rigatoni to linguine or spaghetti. To serve, pair with a glass of Malbec to complement the rich and meaty flavours and get ready for the Corfiot equivalent of a warm hug.
When talking about traditional food in Corfu, it’s almost impossible to avoid mentioning a fish-based-dish. So, welcome in bourdeto, an authentic fish stew. Deriving from the Venetian word for broth, this dish is historically made with a cheap deep-sea fish such as scorpion fish. It’s then simmered in a rich and spicy sauce, whose signature deep-red colour can be credited to fishermen of the past and their abundance of fiery red peppers. Traditionally, tomatoes were nowhere to be seen within a fisherman’s bourdeto, but are often added by modern chefs to soften up this spicy dish for tourists. Finally, pop in some potatoes and serve alongside a simple fresh salad for a taste of Corfu’s Venetian past.
Knock on the door of any household in Corfu during dinner time and we’re willing to bet they’ll be feasting on sofrito. It’s the thin slices of veal or beef, perfectly cooked to melt in the mouth, that make this one of the island’s most popular dishes. You’ll find these slices of meat swimming in a white sauce of garlic, vinegar, parsley and white wine, and generously poured over heaps of fluffy mashes potatoes. While the strong kicks of vinegar and garlic aren’t to everyone’s taste, even the least adventurous foodie will be compelled to give this dish a go when in Corfu.
Fear not vegetarians, traditional food in Corfu has room for you. Tsigareli puts wild greens front and centre, combining the likes of spinach, nettles, swiss chard, dandelions and sorrel. These are blanched until tender, and then tossed in a pan with onions, paprika, cayenne pepper, dill and drizzled with healthy helpings of olive oil. The resulting flavours are bright and bitter, and when sprinkled with some Greek feta cheese, the result is a complementary creamy contrast. When dinner time rolls around, don’t forget to serve it alongside the carby-constant in Greek gastronomy – hunks of crispy bread; perfect for shovelling up your tsigareli.
Written by Evie Buller
Header Image: Dagmar Schwelle/LAIF-REA