Being a Mediterranean island, Corfu traditionally produced considerable quantities of olive oil, wheat and wine from its agriculture; and these, along¬side fish and wild greens, were the standard foodstuffs for the population in Byzantine times. The majority of people would only eat meat during reli¬gious festivals and on special occasions (such as at weddings).
Imported foodstuffs increased the variety of ingredient available during the four centuries of Venetian rule: cellars and kitchens had by then avail¬able potatoes, maize (corn), tomatoes, beans and peppers, as well as luxury items including coffee and chocolate.
Many of the Corfiot dishes are available at local restaurants, so that visi¬tors may easily taste them and meet the gastronomic culture of Corfu.
Corfiots adopted quite a few Venetian cu¬linary habits, copying recipes still used to-day in unchanged form. Some of the more typical dishes include bianco (fish with po¬tatoes in a garlic and black pepper sauce), bourdetto (fish in tomato sauce with liberal quantities of mild red pepper and cayenne pepper), and sofrito (filleted veal, first lightly fried, then casseroled in wine, vinegar, garlic and parsley), while pasticcio dolce was an elaborate dish dating back to ancient Rome. Such recipes, which both took a long time and required considerably effort to prepare, were usually to be found at the dinner tables of the nobility and the wealthy middle class only, those who had access to the various spices Venetian trade provided, as well as to meats and game.
The poorer classes in town and the farming families in villages had to use their imagina¬tion along with the limited foodstuffs they could produce or gather. Their main dish would be salted cod or dried fish, using a va¬riety of cooking techniques and condiments according to the season; alongside there were wild greens – and bread, which, dipped in olive oil, could well account for breakfast, lunch and dinner too.
Corfu later saw the operation of three pas¬ta factories. In this way the most emblematic Corfiot dish was born, the pastisada: a whole cock or pieces of veal in tomato sauce with red pepper, wine, vinegar, olive oil, and a large variety of spices, served with spaghetti.