The Traditional Foods of Corfu, Greece: a Primer

The island's cuisine has many influences

Colourful Greek fishing boats in port of Kioni on Ithaca island, Greece
pkazmierczak / Getty Images

The foods of Corfu are legendary to those familiar with the traditional fare there, but because food on the island varies significantly from the dishes served on the mainland, many people know little about this delicious island cuisine. Not only will the food there make your mouth water, it is also unique because it has been influenced by a variety of cultures. Therefore, Corfu's food is truly multicultural. 

With this primer, improve your understanding of cuisine from Corfu (also known as Kerkyrapronounced KEHR-kee-rah). In Greek, the island is known as Κέρκυρα. And if you'll never visit Greece in person (or sincerely doubt that you will), try making the island's most notable dishes yourself. 

What Makes Corfu Different From the Rest of Greece

Corfu has a parallel but different history from mainland Greece. While the mainland was being occupied by the Ottoman Empire, Corfu (and other islands of the Ionian Sea) were, for centuries, occupied by the Venetians. Corfu is the one part of Greece never conquered by the Turks, and this is reflected in numerous aspects of the culture on the island, including the food.

The fact that Corfu wasn't under the control of the Ottoman Empire doesn't mean that the island is culturally isolated in any way. It wasn't influenced by the Turks, but Corfu was subsequently influenced by the British, the French and the Italians. These cultural influences have completely left its mark on the island's culinary evolution. This means that in Corfu, you'll find a little bit of everything in the food.

It wasn't until much later that Greeks from the mainland brought the Turkish influences of their cooking style to the island (although it had almost no impact on the traditional Corfiot cuisine). So, if you like Western European fare with hints of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, you can find it on Corfu. 

How Corfu Is Similar to Mainland Greece

Because the geography of Corfu is similar to that of the rest of Greece, you'll find the same staples of mainland Greece on the island. This means that olives and olive oil, cheeses, fresh fruits, and vegetables are all basics on the menu. Yet, there is a greater emphasis on seafood, and the tastes and cooking methods are totally and delightfully Corfiot.

And given that the Mediterranean diet is known as one of the most healthful in the world, indulging in Corfu's food is likely to have a number of health benefits and may even prolong your life! You can call around to see if any Greek restaurants in your city serve Corfiot cuisine, but, if not, try making some of these traditional dishes from Corfu below. See for yourself what makes this island's food legendary.

  • Bourou-Bourou - Vegetable and Pasta Soup
  • Bourtheto - Scorpion Fish in a Spicy Sauce
  • Pastitsatha - Rooster with Pasta
  • Sofrito - Fried Beef in a White Wine Sauce
  • Sykomaïtha - Spiced Fig Cakes