Crete is a fertile island. Not only in terms of its culture, but most certainly also in terms of its soil. The cultural aspects of Cretan life are extremely special ones, but those factors belonging to the culinary culture of the area are at least as predominant. In Crete, the language of food is a common language, which speaks of simplicity and versatility at the same time. Cretan food is delicious: it is healthy and colorful; all over Crete tables are set every day with rich and tasty food that is easy to prepare and healthy to consume.
Fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, dairy products, bread, ﬁsh and meat, olive oil, honey and local herbs are abundantly used in Cretan cooking. Although Cretan cuisine is not exactly considered as high gastronomy, but tends to be more on the peasant side with many one-dish or oven cooked meals, exactly there lies its charm: the splendid taste is due to the use of fresh ingredients that are season bound and grown outside, mainly on the island itself. The amount of sun and the rich Cretan soil give the crops / produce a full, rich taste, which makes too much seasoning superﬂuous. Besides the ever so celebrated olive oil and lemon juice, some salt pepper and oregano will usually do.
Recent scientiﬁc studies have shown that Cretans who follow the traditional Cretan diet live longer, are healthier in old age and suﬀer less from heart diseases and cancer than people elsewhere in the western world. That alone should be enough
Your host, family Maris, is immediately linked to Cretan nutrition, as he successfully runs one of the best bakeries in the area of Elounda and Agios Nikolaos: bakery Milo (www.milo.com.gr). It makes the most delicious local kinds of bread, cakes, pies and sweets. You can taste some of these delicacies during your stay at Elounda Maris Villas.
At bakery Milo a special emphasis is put on traditional Cretan products. Syrupy sweets from the baking tin, for instance baklava, kadaiﬁ, galaktoboureko, saragli, bourekakia, walnut cake and many more Sweet and savory cheese pies in various shapes and sizes with a ﬁlling of white (feta, mizithra) or yellow cheese (graviera, kasseri)
Kaltsounia, traditional little tarts with a sweet, so white cheese ﬁlling
Xerotigana, fried rolled up dough, drenched with honey syrup and sprinkled with crushed roasted nuts Galatero or tsoureki, a white, sweet so bread prepared with milk, aromatic spices, fruit juice or nuts, is traditionally consumed at feasts like Easter and Christmas In the bread section you will ﬁnd a wide variety, ranging from the common peasant’s bread to the double baked paximadi.
The peasants’ bread ‘horiatiko’ is made of wheat, whereas the ‘prozimenio’ also has sourdough and is sometimes mixed with barley or oat. It is the most delicious of breads… heavy, moist and so, preferably thickly sliced.
The double baked paximadi is made of barley or whole wheat ﬂour, which is baked, allowed to cool oﬀ, only to be put back into the oven at low heat for several hours to let it dry. Originally used as a preservation method, it is very tasty and widely popular today.
Available in all shapes and sizes, an all-time classic is without doubt the barley rusk, ‘dako’: soaked in olive oil with some slat and oregano, or topped with crushed tomato and crumbled feta cheese, it is unsurpassable!