Food, Restaurants and Cretan cuisine

The Cretan Taste of Life

 Since the middle of the last century, the scientific community has been attracted by the living and eating habits of Cretan people. Many studies have confirmed the benefits of traditional food on the health and longevity of the islanders. Considered in the modern world as the authentic model of the Mediterranean diet, the traditional Cretan cuisine was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2012. Today, it is a source of inspiration for the lovers of healthy cooking and conscious eating, and a tourist attraction that makes Crete island one of the top gourmet destinations worldwide.

 Cretan gastronomy encompasses the tradition of local healthy food production, semi-vegetarian diet respecting seasonality and Orthodox fastings, country-style cooking with fresh ingredients, serving up the meal with a smile, and sharing it lovingly with the family and friends. Due to its geographic position, mild climatic conditions, and fertile terrain that favors unique biodiversity, Crete is the place for the thriving of a lot of native wild greens with excellent nutritional, medicinal, and aromatic properties. These, along with simply cooked vegetables, abundant consumption of olive oil, the “green gold of Crete”, home-made bread, dairy products, and reduced meat, the use of honey as a sweetener, and a glass of wine at every meal constitute the foundation of dietary patterns of Crete inhabitants.

 You will find many ways to experience ethnic food and the Cretan way of cooking, on your holiday. In the supermarkets, food shops, and souvenirs you may find the label of “Crete” as a brand name that marks the traditional local products. Apart from the traditional taverns, more and more restaurants, and all-inclusive hotels offer Cretan dishes on the menu, adhering to the principles of the Cretan diet. As true ambassadors of Cretan lifestyle and traditions, some tourist villages organize harvest festivals, from February to November, while in the cities street food festivals attract tourists in the peak season. Open vineyards and olive groves host organized tours, degustations, and product-making lessons, and agritourism households invite their guests to participate in the activities of their own farms and to cook with the locals. For “gastronauts” some tourist agencies organize thematic culinary tours throughout the island. 

 Cretans acknowledge the ancient wisdom that food means life and enjoy the beauty to live off the land. But what makes the Cretan food culture special is the association of the nutritional benefits of the food with family and social values, transforming the dining experience into a ritual of hospitality, communion, and joy of life. Come along with us to explore the flavors and tastes of Crete! Kali Orexi!