Typically served from unhygienic-looking food trucks, the gyro is by far Greece's biggest culinary export. But that cone of spitted mystery meat drenched in tzaziki is far different from what's actually found in the homeland. “In Greece, if you were served that they'd be offended and not eat it,” says Schneider.
The main distinction is the quality of the meat. Instead of sponge-textured mince meat, Greeks use slices of marinated meat that have been seasoned with allspice, black pepper, garlic, oregano, and thyme, then stacked vertically in a form more akin to Mexican al pastor. That meat is served on a grilled pita with yogurt-based tzatziki that's spiked with garlic, chopped cucumber, mint or dill, lemon, and vinegar. French fries usually make an appearance in the wrapped version, but when it's not eaten on a plate, the pita is traditionally used to sop up the leftover sauce.
Mydia me karydoskordalia
Constantinople was once the largest population center in the world and was colloquially referred to as “the city." This inspired a category of cooking called politika kouzana (“food of the city”). A dish that's still beloved to the Greek communities in now-Istanbul is Mydia Me Karydoskordalia, which roughly translates to mussels with walnut sauce. The meat from the shellfish is removed, battered and deep-fried. It's served skewered on a wooden stick, accompanied by a buttery paste of walnuts and garlic.