Breakfast in …. Greece!

KOULOURI THESSALONIKIS

Greeks are not really a nation of having breakfast. We usually grab a “koulouri” on our way to work with nothing more than a coffee in our belly. If you’ve ever found yourself walking the streets of Athens or Thessaloniki on an early morning, then you might have happened upon a street vendor selling the famous Greek “koulouria Thessalonikis”, otherwise known as “simitia”.

It’s a plain, circular bread, topped with sesame seeds, crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. Nowadays, the “koulouri” has evolved similarly to bagels in the United States; new flavors have been created in addition to the traditional plain variety, so we now also have the breakfast…option of a “koulouri” with cheese (usually feta), “koulouri” with chocolate, “koulouri” with cream cheese and “koulouri” stuffed with black or green olives.

The “koulouri” is a common snack and street food for both Greeks and our neighbors, the Turks. Actually, they were brought to Greece by Greek refugees from Asia Minor and Constantinople (Istanbul) who settled in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, and this explains why their…full name is “koulouri Thessalonikis”.

Local Tip: The “koulouri” must be eaten fresh, so it is best consumed early in the morning (not later than 10 or 11) or at a street vendor that has high turnover.