The basic elements of Rhodes’s cuisine been shaped by centuries of conquerors from East and West. Ottomans Turks, Venetians, Franks, and even the Italians in the first half of the twentieth century have left their mark on the flavors of the Dodecanese group’s capital.
Amaranth and purslane ragout, stuffed vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, zucchini blossoms, onions), baked squash, fried zucchini balls, pitaroudia (fried chickpea balls), cyclamen-leaf rolls filled with lentils, green beans simmered with tomatoes and peppers, and fakorizo (lentils with rice) are just some dishes from Rhodian cuisine.
Although the island’s development for tourism has reduced agricultural production, there are regions of the island which have retained their agrarian character and this is reflected in the range of meat and vegetables dishes in local cuisine: goat simmered in a tall, narrow ceramic pot called pydiakos, chicken with bulgur wheat, spetzofai (sausage and peppers simmered in a spicy tomato sauce), and hen with loukoumi pasta. Rhodian cuisine also features several fish and seafood dishes, such as fried fish with bulgur, as well as a range of cheeses made mostly in mountain villages.
Rhodes’s wines have a global reputation as some 1,500 acres are devoted to cultivation of athiri, moschato, and mandiliaria grapes that produce white, rose, red, sparkling, dry, semi-sweet, and sweet wines. The island boasts several small producers and two large local vintners. Rhodes also produces ouzo flavored with aromatic herbs and anise, souma (a local raki), and coriandolino, a liqueur made with ouzo, sugar, and an aromatic plant endemic to the island.
Sweets round off Rhodes’s gastronomic offerings: melekounia (sesame and honey sweets offered at weddings and engagements), psychopita (cake served at memorial services), ritseli (spoon sweet made from grape must, dried figs, quince, and watermelon rind), moschopougia (fyllo pouches filled with ground walnuts), pumpkin preserve, and milk kaimaki (cream) with sugar.