A WAY OF LIFE
If you ask any Greek, eating a souvlaki is something done on a regular basis. Monthly to say the least, if not weekly. Souvlaki is our go-to comfort food, our favourite street food, our most beloved ‘fast’ food, our ‘no-time-to-cook-today’ food, one of the first ‘sandwiches’ any Greek child will eat as soon as we can chew properly and seldom – if ever – will you find a Greek say they don’t love a good Souvlaki.
It is only fair since it has been with us since ancient times – as explained in our Christmas Souvlaki post – and even back then it consisted of grilled pork on a skewer, served on flatbread with cheese and dill.
In later years it evolved (around the 1950’s) into a grilled pork skewer wrapped in a pita with just tomato, onion and parsley.
Nowadays, all over Greece, you will find a plethora of different variations of it. You can have it with any kind of meat, even fish, haloumi or falafel. You can choose to dress it with tzatziki or various sauces. You can add many different vegetables – even lettuce – and freshly fried chips in it.
Different regions of Greece have different ways of making souvlaki – for example, in Thessaloniki, they add ketchup and mustard, in Crete, they add yoghurt with paprika, and in the island of Othoni, north of Corfu, they dress it with a homemade tomato sauce.
Greek people can get very passionate about how they like their Souvlaki, or even get into arguments on how it is supposed to be called: we are referring to the eternal debate between Northern and Southern Greece, about the meaning of the word ‘kalamaki’ and ‘souvlaki’.
To make a long story short, Northerners call any grilled meat on a skewer ‘souvlaki’ meaning ‘little spit’, whereas Southerners call it ‘kalamaki’ which literally means ‘straw’ and they only call the meat wrapped in pita ‘souvlaki’. Believe us, huge debates have been going on for years concerning this touchy subject!
Any way we like to have it, in any Greek area, one thing remains for certain: our most favourite Sunday family outings in Greece involve a Souvlaki one way or another.
Through our restaurants, we have introduced the British public to the concept of the Greek souvlaki, since The Real Greek opened its first restaurant in Hoxton Square in 1999 and we’ve noticed you love it as much as we do. We honestly believe it is a full, nutritious meal on its own, that’s so tasty it deserves to be available to everyone!