Paros grows much of its own food and produces its own wine so Parians have a deep connection and respect for the land and nature.
The flavours of Paros are plenty, fresh, unique and delicious. Do your best to try as many local delicacies as possible – these include chickpeas in the oven, fried chickpea balls, meatballs and, of course, the king of Parian cuisine, gouna (fresh sun-dried mackerel). Whether your choice is seafood in a taverna overlooking the fishing boats, a French take on world cuisine in Paroikia, authentic and tasty ‘mezedes’ (appetisers) in a characterful cafe in a tiny traditional village, or charcoal-grilled fish in the harbour of Naoussa – Paros and Antiparos are your culinary oyster!
Here are some local specialities you simply must try:
1. SEAFOOD, SEAFOOD, and more SEAFOOD! Especially the grilled octopus. Tender, chewy to the perfect degree, freshly prepared, grilled octopus is a must-eat. Don’t be shy with squeezing that lemon and drizzling that olive oil.
2. Gouna – sun-dried fresh mackerel that is basted in pungent island herbs and flame grilled. Gouna is the pride and joy of Parian cuisine – for good reason too.
3. Baked chickpeas or ‘Revithia sto fourno’. Slow-baked in clay pots with rosemary and onions, this is a chickpea dish that melts in your mouth.
4. Snails or ‘Karavalas’. Karavalas is the word used by locals to describe the large Parian snails. The dish is the Parian version of the French escargot, and is served in a delicious garlic sauce.
5. Fried cheese or ‘Saganaki’. Often wrapped in phyllo pastry and topped with honey, you will find this pan-fried cheese on most restaurant menus and can be described in two words – simply delicious.
6. White cheese or Mizithra is a local cheese made from goat mil that resembles the Italian ricotta. You must try both versions of this this soft, snow-white, creamy, and moist cheese – both the slightly salty version and the sweet and milky one. On Paros, Mizithra often replaces feta in salads. It can also accompany pasta or meat dishes.
7. Fish soup or Kakavia. In French cuisine, there’s the bouillabaisse. In Parian cuisine there’s delicios kakavia. A fish soup with vegetables which is traditionally made with saffron, olive oil, and onions. A variety of different fish can be found in the dish depending on the restaurant, but cod, goliath grouper, or snapper are most often included.
8. Pumpkin pie or Petimezi. This local pumpkin pie wrapped in phyllo pastry is a Paros delicacy. You simply have to try it!
Additionally, you really don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to try other great Parian delicacies that are available at shops selling local produce or in supermarkets:
Firstly, you will love the olives and all the cheese varieties of Paros: Xinomizithra, Touloumotyri, Ladotyri, Anthotyro (and more), produced by the Farmers Cooperative of Paros or private cheesemakers. You honestly should try them all.
Traditional shops also sell wonderful thyme honey from local beekeepers, mainly in July and August. It is of excellent quality but be warned, it sells out in a flash.
You also certainly need to buy the local capers and capers leaves, which you can try either with salad or in various dishes and sauces.
And lastly, for those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on sampling the wonderful Parian “Samota” figs, the “pastelaria” (local kind of brittle), or the wonderful traditional dessert “zacharobaklavades” available at most bakeries.
Greek wines are incredibly underrated. The country has been producing wine for thousands of years, and offer some truly amazing varieties, especially white wines. Paros has a long wine-making tradition, and the vineyards of Paros have been known since antiquity for producing wines and are marked with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The white and red wines from the Farmers Cooperative of Paros, as well as four modern private wineries operating on the island, are the proud face of Paros around the world.
Wine lovers should taste the white wine of the Monemvasia variety, the red of the Mandilaria variety, and certainly other superb varieties, such as Vaftra and Mavro Aidani. Locally produced Malvasia is a superb dessert wine.
The history of wine-making in Paros will fascinate you and the best place to learn everything there is to know about local wine is Moraitis Winery which is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Paros. This winery’s history goes back as early as 1910 and you can visit the old cellars for wine tasting.
As for tsipouro lovers, there’s the famous “Souma” of Paros, a perfect accompaniment for all Parian meze (appetisers). Souma is a local Raki, a product of the first distillation from grape mass. Distillation units fire up in autumn to produce Souma for family, friends and visitors who, after enjoying a glass or more, proceed to stock up a few bottles “to-take” before heading back home.