Calamari might be the Italian word for squids, but it’s a popular dish associated with Greek food. In Greek, it is traditionally known as Kalamarakia Tiganita (little fried squids). Squid has long been a staple food source in the Mediterranean, but it took its time to make its way over to North America.
Now, calamari is regarded as a delicious appetizer next to popular fan favourites like potato skins, mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers. You can find calamari in countless restaurants, but a Greek restaurant is where you will find the best varieties. In Greek restaurants, a plate of calamari is served with a sprinkle of Greek oregano and lemon wedges – making all the difference!
While Calamari maintained its popularity in Europe and Mediterranean countries, North America’s eastern seaboard didn’t catch on to it until as late as 1981.
It was with the over-harvesting of other traditional north and mid-Atlantic fish like haddock, cod, and flounder that the fish industry started to pay attention to underutilized fish like squid, shark and monkfish.
Restaurant owners were initially skeptical about serving large meal-sized portions of calamari, as they were worried that the main ingredient, squid, might scare away customers. As a solution, they started offering small portions as a trial to see if it would catch on – thus how it became an appetizer.
They succeeded and as a result, squid sales doubled in the mid-90s and small hometown restaurants began to serve it more often paving the way for the rise of calamari as a staple appetizer, especially associated with Greek food.
If you’re feeling hungry for some Greek food after reading this, we don’t blame you! Next time you call Greek on Wheels for tasty Greek food take-out or delivery order yourself a plate of calamari! You won’t be disappointed.