Lefkada is a beautiful island in the Ionian Sea. Turquoise waters and embroidered beaches, verdant forests and springs, mountainous terrain revealing picturesque villages. Lefkada has got it all! Connected to the mainland via a modern road network and a small bridge at Agia Mavra, the island is easily accessible. Hence, it becomes a hub of tourism and a place ideal for a getaway. And the cultural wealth of the island makes it an ideal destination for those interested in tradition and folklore. Which brings us to the most famous local product from Lefkada, lentils of Egklouvi!
If you are wondering what makes these lentils so special that are worth dedicating an entire article, then you will be surprised. The lentils grow on the plateau of Agios Donatos, adjacent to the village of Egklouvi. Their cultivation dates back centuries ago and therefore they have become trademark of the region. What is different about this variety of lentils is that they are extremely high in iron, calcium and nutritional value. But at the same time, they are spectacularly delicious. When you cook lentils of Egklouvi, you need to be careful and check for the moment when they become mushy. This is when they have released their flavors in full. And you only add some extra virgin olive oil, oregano and garlic. The outcome is mind-blowing, trust us!
The traditional way of cultivation survives till these days in Lefkada. More often than not, you will see old women picking the lentils by hand. It is impressive how time has stood still on this blessed part of the world. Lentils of Egklouvi are organically grown local products, included within the list of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) from the United Nations. The villagers understand the value of lentils and so they only cultivate minimal quantity per year. It is just enough for their own needs and for very limited trading. So you should seek a traditional merchant when you visit Lefkada, in order to ensure that you get your share in time.
To celebrate the harvest at the village, locals organize the feast of lentils in Egklouvi. Every year on August 6th, there is a huge celebration for the Transfiguration of Jesus. It is the eve before the celebration of Agios Donatos, protector of the village. After mass, everyone gathers in the village and the housewives prepare the traditional recipe for lentils. They serve it along with other treats. Travelers are more than welcome to attend this wonderful feast, eat and drink with the villagers on this joyous occasion.
When you do visit Lefkada, dedicate some time to reach the mountainous village of Egklouvi. See where the lentils grow, how strenuous the whole process is for the locals to maintain its quality along with tradition. And above all, have a taste of this healthy gastronomic wonder!