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Greek cuisine is rated by many as one of the world’s best. While there are, of course, widely known dishes that can be found not only across the country but around the world, there are also many regional specialties. One such delight in Messenia in the Peloponnese is the roast pork dish known as gournopoula.

What is Gournopoula?

Gournopoula is a slow-roasted young pig. The ingredients & process are straightforward. Take the pork & marinate it with olive oil, oregano and/or other herbs, lemon, salt, & pepper, especially taking care to fill the belly.

After being marinated, the piglet is then roasted in an oven on a grill, allowing the fat to drip away to be used on accompanying roast potatoes. This cooking process can take up to 10 hours, but the end result is worth the time. The roasted meat is tender, with crispy skin.

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Generally, the roast pork specialty is available seasonally in the Messenia Region between April & October. It’s especially popular during celebrations & holidays.

Legend has it that gournopoula grew in popularity during the Ottoman occupation of the region. The local residents knew the animals would not be stolen & eaten by Muslims, thus ensuring a healthy supply for themselves while also keeping the invaders away.

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The Best Gournopoula in Kalamata

Gournopoula can be found at several restaurants in Kalamata & the rest of the Messenia region. I enjoyed the roast pork dish at Thiasos (map).

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After we had an appetizer of fried cheese & a plate of French fries, our two plates of gournopoula arrived not long after.

Each dish was piled high with roast pork, complete with crispy skin, all over roasted potatoes. Both the pork & the potatoes had a delightful lemon & herb flavor, while the soft potatoes also inherited the pork goodness from the drippings.

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The gournopoula was amazingly tender, while the contrasting skin crunched with each bite. It’s no exaggeration to say that it was one of the most memorable meals of my life. It paired well with the local Kalamata lager.

Thiasos’ reputation for delicious roasted pork goes beyond humans. Local cats also wander through the patio, hoping for a snack. As difficult as it was to part with even a few bites, we were obliged to share.

Another notable restaurant for Kalamata roast pork is Platanos Taverna (Πλάτανος-καφέ-μεζεδοπωλείο) (map). Further afield, Traditional Pork (Η Γουρνοπούλα) (map) and ΨΗΣΤΑΡΙΑ ‘Ο Γιώργος’ (George’s Grill) (map) also have reputations for serving up some of the best gournopoula in Kalamata.

Here are some great Kalamata tours & activities & other things to see & do in Kalamata.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Kalamata, check out these hotels.

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