In the southeastern Aegean, just off the Anatolian coast of Turkey, Kos represents a quaint haven of Greek and Mediterranean tradition, with the occasional Ottoman Muslim influences that give its lifestyle charm and flair.
Today, most travelers visiting the island are fascinated by the mix of Greek, Ottoman, and Venetian architecture that define Kos Town, but also discover the charm of the traditional Greek villages in the countryside.
Besides architecture and endless beaches kissed by cerulean waters, Kos is also a destination for memorable foodie experiences, and many visitors purchase edible souvenirs to bring the taste of the island back home, either to share it with family and friends, or just to take a bite now and then to remember or to prolong the Koan experience after their trip.
Among these morsels of taste, here are five of the most delicious to take home when you visit Kos:
Hippocrates praised honey: “Honey and pollen cause warmth, clean sores and ulcers, soften hard ulcers of lips, heal carbuncles and running sores.”
Therefore, honey has a longstanding tradition on Kos, with uses extending beyond cuisine due to its healing properties. Nevertheless, the taste of the Koan honey is unique, owing to the flora of the island, which is rich in fragrant herbs like rosemary and thyme, as well as wildflowers and flowering shrubs.
Because honey is such a prized component of the Mediterranean diet, it would be a pity not to bring a jar or two back home with you.
Glyko Tomataki is a sweet tomato preserve, or “tomato spoon sweet,” made with local vergaki tomatoes, boiled with sugar and almonds, and seasoned with vanilla or cloves. The recipe varies from household to household, but the sweet is also available in souvenir shops, supermarkets, and in the duty-free area at the Kos International Airport “Hippocrates.”
Krasotyri – which loosely translates as “drunken cheese” – is essentially cheese marinated in wine. The wine gives the cheese a unique character, and an unmistakable salty-delicate, yet fragrant taste. The cheesemaking process of Krasotyri follows a few steps: the milk is pasteurized, then set to clot, cut and put into molds to drain, set in brie for two or three days, and finally let to age in wine for 18 to 20 days.
Hippocrates called olive oil “the great healer” – which proves that what Homer once called the “liquid gold” was highly appreciated on Kos, not only in cookery, but for other uses too. Koan olive oil is usually made from Koroneiki olives or local Throumba olives, which produce oils with a distinctive taste and aroma.
Although wine has been appreciated on the island for centuries, the Koan winemaking industry is young. In antiquity, the island was famous for its Melantanon wine, but production faded during the Ottoman occupation. Today, local boutique wineries are reviving the industry, and manage to produce true epicurean sensations. Oenophiles praise the wines of Kos.
Remember that Kos is also well-known for its herbs and medicinal plants – which are also highly recommended as souvenirs from the island. The local baklava is quite a treat too. Whatever you decide to bring back home with you, the quality of the Koan products will not disappoint you.