Gourounopoula from Messinia

During the Turkish occupation in Peloponnisos there was frequently snatching of Greek fortune from the local dominion. Turks used to grab the lambs off the spits awhile cooking.

The Messinian Greeks had to do something about it and so they started to put pigs on the spits. This stopped the Turks from stealing their food because they could not consume pork due to their religion. Since then “gourounopoula” or "Bouzopoula" as the locals call it, became a tradition in Messinia and today one of their famous delicacies. You can find it in every village of Messinia and almost the whole of Peloponnesus as well in every religious festival, most of them now cooked in ovens.

pork disply
Gourounopoula is considered a street food since it is sold on the street. Passerby’s stop with the cars, order the amount they need (many of them who know the process have given the order the night before so to reserve the best parts of the pig) the person in charge will chop it and serve it to you wrapped in parchment paper. Many will eat it there and then with plastic forks and some bread. The tenderness of the meat in contrast from the crunchiness of the skin together with the sweet, smoky, salty and robust taste makes it for sure an out of this world meal!!!

pork eat
It is not easy to get to these results. Tradition has it that the animal needs to be over 80lb in weight, and preparations have to start the day before. The cook will rub the skin very well with coursed salt (I heard that with lemon as well so to get a crispier skin), throw a handful of oregano in its stomach and sew it up. Let it stand for few hours and then place it either on the spit or in the oven, whichever way it will take up to about 9-10 hour of slow roasting. The weight loss on the spit is about 50% were in the oven about 40%.

pork chamber
After the cooking comes the waiting time… it is left in a specially designed chamber made of Plexiglas to cool down and still keep warm. The chamber is then pulled out on the road and waits for the customers. The roasted pig is chopped and served!!! The head is kept to be consumed by the people that cooked the pig or very “special” customers.

pork pieces
Next time you travel in Messinia (mostly May to October), do yourself a favor and stop to taste this amazing dish, it will make your visit a lot better.

pork portion

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