The traditional diet of the Cretan people that started from the ancient years seems to collect all the characteristics of an excellent diet. People who follow this diet have less heart attacks and cancer in comparison with other European countries. The excellent health and longevity of the Cretans is attributed to their simple diet, from natural sources, which included olive oil, cereal, bread, legumes, vegetables and fruits and on special rare occasions they would eat eggs, cheese, milk, meat and fish and of course one glass of wine!
The olive oil is essential for the prevention of illnesses and is the cornerstone of the Cretan diet, therefore the core ingredient of any dish or savory pastry. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acid which reduce the LDL cholesterole. It also has a big quantity of antioxidant substances that protect from atherosclerosis and various forms of cancer. An interesting fact is that the composition of the olive oil in fatty acid is similar with the fat oft he maternal milk!
A typical Cretan appetizer includes marinated olives, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, the famous graviera cheese and barley rusks. Don’t miss the chance to taste the ever-popular dakos or koukouvagia. Dakos is made by traditional dried bread topped with grated tomato, feta cheese, olive oil, and oregano: a simple and exquisite snack!
Wild greens constitute perhaps the greatest asset in Cretan cuisine. No one knows exactly how many different species of plants are used for human consumption, but more than 120 have been identified. They grow everywhere, from coastal zones to high mountain regions.
For the main dish there is a selection of delicious traditional delicacies; fried snails, - lamb with wild herbs, smoked pork (apaki), dolmades - vine leaves usually stuffed with rice - and pork meat with celery are just some of the local dishes you can relish, while you are eating your way through Crete.
We didn’t mention anything about seafood, because even though Crete is an island, local people don’t prefer seafood to meat, as the meat is fresh and cost-efficient.
The Cretans eat never alone, always with company, friends or family and a glass of wine. They take almost all the food from nature, eating lots of fruits and vegetables. The only fatty ingredient they use in the food and the salad is olive oil.
The Cretan eating habits are considered as the Mediterranean Diet Model, the Cretan Diet was inscribed in 2012 by Unesco as Intagible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
What makes the Cretan cuisine different from the others? It does not mix the taste. Each material has its autonomy and identity and its own taste. The cretan cuisine is a way of living. Simple, without superfluous seasoning, without flavor enhancers.