Gastronomy in Crete, Greece
Cuisine and nutrition are an important part of a country’s culture. In Greece and in Crete specifically, people are known for their Mediterranean diet which is one of the most famous diets in the world, due to the products that are used and the benefits it offers.
Mediterranean diet came on the scene in 60’s with studies by scientists, focusing on its multiple benefits. Τhe main aspects of this diet are the high consumption of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, fish and legumes, daily consumption of dairy products, such as yoghurt and cheese and a small amount of meat. Especially for olive oil, studies have shown that it’s consumption reduce the danger of chronic diseases and early mortality.
Nowadays, the food is still very important when we think about the Cretan culture. Some changes have appeared in the years passing, but the specialties of the region remain the same. When you travel to Crete, you will have the opportunity to taste different kinds of food, prepare some plates with local people in the traditional villages or even collect fresh products by your own. Local markets are taking place every week in different parts of the island where you can find local products such as herbs, vegetables, fresh cheese and fruits. In the taverns you can taste many traditional dishes such as Mousaka, snails, pies and local sweets.
Cheese is also an important part of the gastronomy in Greece and in the island of Crete. You can find many kinds of local cheese, such as Graviera, Myzithra or Anthotiros cheese, while feta is also popular among the Greeks. All kinds of cheese can be used in salads or meals, but also can be eaten as appetizers. Tzatziki is also an interesting sauce with cucumbers, Greek yogurt, olive oil and garlic, which is served as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to other foods.
Οlive oil is the crown of the diet in Crete. The island is known for producing excellent quality of olive oil, as there are vast olive groves all over the island, which are harvested by the locals in the winter months. In fact, in some tourist areas, tourists have the opportunity to participate in the picking of olives and to learn the olive oil production process in the local olive mills.
To season a plate, Cretan people use many different spices proper to the island. The oregano can be found in big quantities on the island and used a lot by the inhabitants. Different other herbs are used to make several kinds of teas.
In summary, drinks also occupy an important place in Cretan cuisine. Crete is famous for the production of wines from the vineyards on the island and also for raki or tsikoudia a drink high in alcohol which is considered the traditional drink of the island and is offered as a digestive.