The gastronomy of an area tends to mirror its cultural identity. Xanthi is no exception to the rule as local gastronomy showcases the existing cultural mosaic. Greeks, Muslims, Pomaks, Romani, Armenians, Pontic Greeks, Cappadocians (coming from the Balkan peninsula and Minor Asia) have all added greatly to the rich gastronomic tradition of the area.
The district’s produce include fruit, vegetables, potatoes, legumes, asparaguses, mushrooms and recently truffles. Livestock farming and dairy produced in the mountainous areas are very important to the district’s economy. Other activities include poultry farming, freshwater fishing (river trout), salt water fishing in the Thracian sea or fish farming in Porto Lagos.
Local gastronomy is a mixture of flavours and aromas originating from Minor Asia and the Balkans. Taste the local roasted chick peas, fresh fish, kebab, chickpeas with pumpkin and spices, lamb meat with chylopites (a type of pasta) also called youfkades, savoury pies such as pastourmadopita (made with seasoned and cured beef meat), prasokreatopita (a meat and leek pie which is customary to eat on New Year’s Day). Another local delicacy is kavourmas which is seasoned meat –usually veal, buffalo, sheep or goat- slowly cooked with spices (allspice, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg) in fat, a type of confit. The process of curing the meat -in older times- used to be the best and only way to preserve it for long periods of time. Other palatable dishes for you to try would be tsigerosarmades (lamb entrails with herbs and spices), pork or chicken with pickled cabbage, chicken with couscous, lachanodolmades (a mixture of minced meat, herbs and spices wrapped in cabbage leaves), sausages and pulse soups.
Good food should always have the proper accompaniment and this is none other than good wine! Taste palatable wines made from local varieties such as Roditis, Athiri, Asyrtiko, Xinomavro, Negoska as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. You can visit a number of wineries in the area and enjoy the offer of lovely white, rose and red wines. Other options for you would be ouzo and tsipouro especially if seafood is on the table.
Xanthi is also famous for its confectionery, mostly of oriental origin. Local patisseries prepare syrupy phyllo dough pastries (baklava, kantaifi, ekmek, saragli, walnut pie, samali, revani), kazan dipi (meaning “the bottom of the kettle”, an oven-baked vanilla-scented cream from sheep milk), tavouk gkiosou (the only pastry made with chicken!), kiounefe (crisp sweet with a soft cheese filling), muhalebi (creme with syrup made with rose water), seker pare (tasty biscuits made with semolina, soaked in syrup), karioka, the popular sweet made with chocolate, nuts or dried fruits, a confection invented by a local patissier, anomala, also called vrachakia, (an almond chocolate treat), nougat, turkish delights, and soutzouk loukoum (a sausage-like confection with walnuts).
Xanthi’s gastronomic treasures can cater for all tastes. Indulge yourself to offered flavours and aromas and make your trip a memorable one!