Zakynthian cuisine is based mainly on the Mediterranean diet which nearly always includes olive oil and consists of a balance of meat, vegetables, fish, fruit and beans. Other main ingredients in the recipes include garlic, tomatoes, herbs and lemons.
Zakynthian cuisine is similar to the other Ionian Islands but there are subtle differences. There is a big Italian influence in Zakynthian recipes from the time when the Venetians ruled.
A lot of the ingredients used can either be found on the island or are produced by the families themselves and the meals can be very seasonal.
A lot of the homes in the villages have a traditional wood-burning oven outside where they bake their own bread and other delicious slow cooked meals.
Zakynthians love their food and take great care and joy in preparing meals. There is always too much food made in case someone calls in unexpectedly and there has to be enough food to feed them too. It is considered an insult if you arrive during a meal and refuse to sit at the table to eat with the family.
The extended families still gather together for big celebrations and the table is always weighed down with numerous mouth-watering dishes.
A favourite way of eating out for the Zakynthians, is to order lots of mezedes (starters) instead of just one main course per person.