Ask Greeks about Messinia and they will describe it as a place that has it all. The same applies to ingredients – everything is produced in Messinia. From olives and olive oil, famous all over the world, to honey, fruits and vegetables, spices and herbs, dairy products, and meat. Ingredients are an integral part of Messinian authentic culture, directly linked to local gastronomy and the characteristics of the people it represents.
What to try when you visit Messinia? You should not miss the below ingredients!
Food of the Gods, as they were called in Greek mythology, olives are known for many centuries as a very important ingredient. The health benefits and healing properties of olive oil were first discovered by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who used olive oil to treat his patients.
Olives play an important role in entire Greek history and culture. In the ancient Olympic Games, the winners were honored with a simple olive wreath cut with a golden knife from a wild olive tree. The olive tree was the symbol of wisdom and peace, the sacred tree of the ancient city of Athens.
Messinia is one of the largest olive oil producers. It is the alpha and omega of Messinian cuisine and is used everywhere – and in large quantities. There is no house or restaurant in Messinia that doesn’t have this ingredient. You will find it in every meal that they make: from delicious dishes known all over Greece to pies, even sweets. Chefs in the Costa Navarino restaurants, in Kalamata, Gialova restaurants or Mani admit that for preparation of some of their meals they don’t use butter at all, only olive oil.
Apart from olive oil and olives, olive paste is a product for which Messinia is very famous. A combination of olives, and olive oil, then flavored with other herbs and spices, it is used as a bread spread, dip, or pasta sauce. At some restaurants in Gialova olive paste is served as a starter with bread, so it will be a good chance to try it right from the place where it is produced.
Knowns for centuries as one of the main ingredients in the human diet, the fig is a popular fruit in Greece for more than 3000 years. Admired from ancient times, it was the main food of many athletes in Olympia, used to give them strength and increase their running speed.
Even today, fig hasn’t lost the top place among ingredients in Greece, especially in Messinia and its restaurants. Messinia had among the highest numbers of fig trees in Peloponnese, and it is considered one of its main exports. There is no restaurant in Gialova or Costa Navarino that doesn’t have at least one dish with this ingredient.
Every summer the whole villages in Messinia have this fantastic smell of figs. In Polylofos, every August 18th they celebrate the Feast of fig, with many traditional recipes made from this ultimate summer fruit, extremely beneficial for our health.
Apart from taking it directly from the tree and eating them fresh, some prefer to eat it dried throughout the whole year. If you want to go for sweets next time when you visit some of the Costa Navarino restaurants, you should definitely choose the one with figs.
Grapes, raisins, and wine
Greek vineyards are considered one of the oldest in the world and Messinia has a special place in Greek stories about wines. Known as one of Greece’s most important wine-growing areas, people in Messinia produce grapes in a variety of colors and flavors ideal for different wine types. It makes it a perfect place for a glass of wine while watching the sunset from the Gialova restaurant (after a full day at the beach!).
The effect of the Ionian Sea breeze, water supplies from the Alfios and Pinios rivers, the area of Trifilia, and the land and weather conditions make Messinia a perfect place for grape cultivation. Messinia has 14 wineries with Protected Geographical Indication, producing dry white and red wine. If you visit some of the Gialova restaurants, you will be delighted by the great taste that these wines have.
And when you get enough of the fresh grapes and good wines, try raisin, dried grape produced in Messinia. Put it in the sweets, yogurt, oatmeal, main dish, or a salad and you won’t regret it.
In Messinia every July the whole arias that used to be filled with seawater months before become white. Salt production in this region is known for centuries, dating from the Byzantine period. Salt and sea have a strong connection. The Greek word for salt, “alati”, comes from the old Greek word “als”, which means sea.
The tradition of collecting salt in the old, classic way has been kept in this region of Peloponesse till now. Why? Because salt from Messinia, the large producer of this ingredient is tastier than any other that you will find: it has an excellent quality thanks to the perfect weather and water conditions. Think about this next time when you see salt on the table of your favorite Costa Navarino restaurant!
Aromatic plants and herbs
With its wide variety of endemic plants, Messinia offers every visitor the opportunity to get to know the most interesting herbals in this part of Europe.
Oregano, thyme, mint, sage, chamomile, yarrow, calendula, valerian, dictum, linseed, marjoram, and lavender are just several of those small little leaves and flowers produced in Messinia. They are giving a special flavor to every meal or drink you will try in every Gialova restaurant during your stay in this beautiful part of Peloponnese.
Oregano, for example, with its intense flavor and character is an integral part of almost every Messinian dish and not only. If you prefer a hot drink, then chamomile, with its distinctive aroma and relaxing effect, is a perfect choice, especially on cold nights. The same applies to mixed herbs known as a Mountain tea mix.
For a hot summer evening, there is nothing better than drinking a cocktail in one of the Costa Navarino restaurants. It will have a perfect smell and taste, thanks to the addition of fresh or dried Messinian herbs.
Don’t leave Greece without trying honey from Messinia. This part of Peloponesse is a real paradise for bees, due to the existence of unique herbs, wildflowers, and trees. Every plant in Messinia gives a special touch to the taste of the honey and contributes to its unique aroma, flavor, and quality.
Honey has been used as food since ancient times. In that period, people described it as a "gift from heaven". “Nectar” and food of the Gods” are words used throughout the ancient world to describe its characteristics and health benefits, not without a reason.
Honey from Messinia has fantastic golden color. Its thick texture preserves all the nutrition. You can understand all the advantages of this “gold” after eating just one spoon. Many restaurants in Gialova use it to make delicious sweets or salad dressing. People in Messinia use it a lot as a secret recipe for their health and long life.
Enjoying Messinia threads in Costa Navarino restaurants
When we talk about the local cuisine, we can’t skip the Gialova restaurants. If you want to try all ingredients that make Messinia unique right there at the place where they are cultivated, visit Costa Navarino restaurants, or select one of the restaurants in Gialova. All these restaurants use the local products directly from the local producers and farms. The Deroko Restaurant in Gialova, is famous for its fine dining concept combines all these ingredients to create delicious dishes and drinks.
Make the best of your vacation – reserve a table in Gialova restaurant, select your favorite “Made in Messinia” ingredient and make your stay unforgettable!