The “unofficial” national dish of Greece, the souvlaki, is not as Greek as people believe. The Athens daily “Vima” reports that 190,000 tons of the 300,000 tons of meat used annually to create souvlaki is imported. The cost amounts to a whopping half a billion euros.
Souvlaki is also known as “gyro” in North America, while its non-pork equivalent is “doner” in Turkey and elsewhere. A traditional souvlaki is strips of meats cut from a large mass of compressed meats, cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The meats are placed in a flour-based pita with onions, tomatoes, the local garlic-based “tzatziki” sauce, french fries, with variations differing from region to region. In Greece, souvlaki meat is usually pork, although most eateries now offer chicken souvlaki, too. Establishments specializing in more Levantine (Near East) fare also offer lamb souvlaki.
The basic supplier of souvlaki meats is Danish Crown, which has an annual turnover of 8 bln euros, making it the largest meat producer in Europe and second-largest in the world.