Messolonghi, the Holy City as it has been called, is identified as no other Greek city with the liberation struggle of 1821. Its residents resisted the attacks of the Ottoman Empire in 1822 and in 1823 without surrendering.
A third attack commenced in April 1825. After a prolonged state of siege, soldiers and unarmed citizens were unable, due to lack of food, to sustain their defense against Turkish and Egyptian troops and began the “exodus from Messolonghi” in 1826. The event resulted in enormous civilian casualties and had a major impact by causing a powerful emotional reaction in Europe, which in turn benefited the Greek struggle.
The gastronomy of Messolonghi is based on the wide variety of fish so generously offered by the Amvrakikos gulf and the lagoon of Messolonghi.
The Lagoon of Messolonghi is a natural paradise and a source of wealth for the inhabitants of the area, giving products of special identity and a source of inspiration for imaginative dishes.
Messolonghi PDO roe (avgotaraho), an internationally recognized product, is one of the top products in the world and inspires top chefs.
Cleaned of its enclosing protective wax it is served in delicate slices with a little olive oil and lemon on thin slices of toast. It combines wonderfully, both in various dish recipes, which it enriches, as with white wine or tsipouro.
The Lagoon is an ideal place for many species of its eels, which are considered as among the tastiest in Europe. They vary in size and weight, and are an exportable product. They are cooked in Messolonghi and Aetoliko in many ways: in the oven, in the pot, salted and grilled, fried, or on a spit.
Salted fish abound in the area. Annular seabream, gilt-headed bream and eels. Especially salted annular seabreams are a famous delicacy of great gastronomic value. The salting process takes place mainly in winter, when the fish are fatter.
Crustaceans exude a fresh-sea fragrance of iodine and support the delicious cuisine of the area. Τhese include havara (Chamelea gallina is a species of small saltwater clam), as well as gialemia, clams, fried mussels, gambari yachni (steamed prawns), and kerathoura, a local red-brown shrimp. The show is stolen by the aromatic dishes where crabs are fried with rice, onion and dill, and the vassilokavoures (‘king crabs’) that are eaten roasted.
There are of course the fish that are eaten cooked as the first dish, such as the bafa (flathead grey mullet) kapama, the mullet savoro, the sea bream and the sea bass with garlic, potatoes and a spicy sauce, fried cuttlefish, ligda, that is, small fried sea bream, extinguished with vinegar and red sauce.
Another great treasure of the Lagoon is sea salt. There are two salt pans, Aspri and Tourlida. Harvesting is done by mechanized means in Aspri Aliki, and in the traditional way in Tourlida.
A special product not to miss, the Agrinio Conservolia, a variety of olives from the demarcated geographical zone of the provinces of Trichonida, Messolonghi – Nafpaktia, Xiromeros and Valtos.