So you’ve made it to the globally renowned cradle of civilization! Athens is a veritable smorgasbord of antiquities to explore, brimming museums and historical sites at every turn of the road. You’ve found yourself in the birth place of democracy and philosophy, your map app in hand and city guide in the back pocket. As you embark on your exploration and day packed with visits and activities, don’t forget to load up on carbs, giving your body energy to face the day and boost you hikes up Lycabettus hill and strolls down the historic port of Piraeus.
And what better way to get your energy levels up than a traditional Greek snack you can pick up at virtually every metro station or popular town square? Vendors stock their wheeled stands every morning and cater to all passersby. Even bakeries and coffee-to-go places offer it and nowadays you might even encounter specialized delicatessen chains experimenting with this well-loved street food that is suitable for any moment of the day.
We are, of course, talking about the Greek “koulouri”, originally a staple snack of our Northern co-capital, Thessaloniki, but quickly having spread all across the country, earning a place in everyone’s heart. Whether you grab one when you step out of the train station on your way to the Acropolis museum to explore the countless invaluable historic treasures, or you accompany your coffee with it while you board your tour bus to the beautiful Peloponnese, the “koulouri” is the perfect traditional light snack to boost your mood and energy levels!
This roundish ring of bread can be traced back to antiquity, to its ancestor “kollyra”, having survived over the ages as it continues to accompany modern Greek every day life as a cheap healthy street food option you can pick up everywhere. It is believed that the “koulouri” (or “simit” in Turkey) was a popular snack sold on the streets of Constantinople during the Byzantine empire. 19th-century oil paintings about Constantinople daily life show “koulouri” vendors on the streets offering these tasty snacks to travelers and visitors.
Its most usual and loved version relies on its classic bread recipe, sprinkled with sesame seeds. You might stop at the classic street stands and ask for crispy or softer ones, in various sizes. Varieties in flour and toppings, like poppy, flax or sunflower seeds, are always available and of course, nowadays, you are sure to also come across the stuffed version for that extra kick you might need. Commonly, cream cheese or turkey may be used in some bakeries and as times progress, specialized recipes with chocolate and chestnut stuffing or various super-food combinations like cranberries and goji berries are popping up everywhere, catering to everyone’s taste and preferences.
So, pick up a couple while you board the ferry to your island destination, toss one in your back pack while you follow the footsteps of ancient Greek philosophers on the rock of Acropolis, or have a rest and a quick snack while you gaze across the Aegean sea from the temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion. An ideal traditional and healthy breakfast option for the explorer-on-the-go!